A little while ago I got the opportunity to craft a QR code experiment on the OU campus. The premise was simple: Improve the campus discovery experience for prospective students.
In other words the idea was to digitize, improve and share data about the sooner spirit to future sooner. Campus wide QR implementation meant to serve two main goals:
- To improve campus promotion within the recruiting class by providing cool facts about the campus and the sooner lifestyle.
- To improve campus navigation for the incoming class, while integrating social interaction into our students’ lifestyle.
We chose to use camp crimson as our test field. For your information, camp crimson is a freshman immersion camp where the incoming class learns about campus and campus life.
This article is more like a diary of the things we learned during the process. After the whole experience, here are the five rules (in my opinion) that should guide you in the process of creating a QR campaign.
- Educate/Secure your content: One of the biggest misconceptions around QR codes is that people are automatically going to scan them if given the opportunity. The first thing you need to understand is content safety. People want to know they can trust your content. Reassure them that nothing malicious is going to happen to their device. To fix this, we created a brand for our scans. SoonerScan. In result, if students see a QR code within our logo, they know it’s content approved.
- Understand your audience: QR scanners are not browsers. The reason people will scan your code is because they’re looking for more information, additional content or a limited promotional item (coupons, discounts, etc). QR Scanners are hunters.
- Mobile friendly content: Since QR scanners are hunters; they’ll most likely scan from their mobile device (phone or tablet). To maximize the experience your content need to be mobile friendly. Otherwise they will not enjoy the experience and move on with their life.
- Make the content valuable: Once again, it’s all about maximizing the experience. If you produce a code that links to your regular site, they’re not gaining anything new. Instead create a mobile friendly page with cool/fun facts or a sign up sheet for your organization. The key here is to combine interaction with engagement.
- Code density is critical: You need to control the density of the code you create. The density of the code is closely related to the amount of information you put on it. To facilitate the scanning process, try to limit the data as much as possible. Ideally you will just put a link that will launch a site, a video or prompt you to like a Facebook page.
Now that you now the rules the possibilities are truly endless. We had fun with this project and the students had a blast.
To kick start the adventure we partnered with Camp Crimson to host a sweepstake. The entering process was simple. (Pop quiz at the end so follow through) We sent out a flyer to each student. This is what it looked like.
Can you tell me why we did that? Do you think it served it’s purposed?
Remember rule #1? Educate and secure your content. Once the student participating in the camp received this email. Guess what they did? They downloaded an app an activated the code. The “test” code took them to the camp page and prompted an action. That’s all they needed to enter the contest. And embark in the adventure. Once they are on board, it all depends on how creative your team is to maintain the momentum.
We created a scavenger hunt using QR codes to provide clues to participants. Once at the location additional codes were made visible adding to the overall experience by providing fun facts. In return they walked around campus and learned about cool spots to hangout and important places like the bursar office.
To encourage the OU Green initiative, we also used codes to facilitate data exchange between student groups and prospects. During orientation, each speaker/group had a booth describing their organization. We dressed their booths with our codes and logo. If interested in the group, all a student needed to do was scan the code to save the organization’s contact in his/her phone.
We’re also looking at the long-term possibilities. I can’t share all the ideas we have but I’ll give you a general direction to help sparks some ideas within your teams:
- Geo-tagged locations on campus /map integration
- Campus tour/ customized experience. Make your own tour.
- Augmented reality integration.
I really believe that University campuses are the perfect canvases for QR technology. Campuses give unlimited access to generation Y and their behavior. Whatever millenials do, pretty much shapes the direction of the industry you’re in. I’m glad to say that since we ran our little campaign last summer, QR Codes are popping up everywhere on campus this fall. Few campus departments caught on and are running with it in interesting forms. Keeping the initiative alive. So if you’re looking to create a campaign for one of your clients or any other projects using this technology, I suggest that you get a hold of a University’s IT specialists or marketing/media agency working with #eduweb and ask them for guidance.
Please do share and comment on the best practices you’ve seen or created for QR codes strategy/content.