Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adventures in foursquare and QR codes

This week we were asked to check out foursquare and QR codes, and provide some insight as to whether these social media applications (apps) would be beneficial for public relations practitioners.

Foursquare is a location based application that was created in 2009. My understanding of the app is that users are asked to 'check-in' to venues, be it a bakery, yoga studio, what have you, and send a message via text or mobile device to friends on your list, that you are there. Users can earn points, badges, earn status labels, or even become 'mayor' of a venue simply by checking in numerous times to the same venue. Businesses offer specials or discounts as an incentive to entice new customers, and retain regular ones. I personally think it's a loyalty program disguised as a fun app for friends to exchange information, but it apparently works wonders for businesses (if enough people positively identify your venue, and it in turn attracts a significant amount of traffic to your location).

Since it's been around for a few years now, I feel like I've joined a party about halfway towards the end, but better late than never right? I do see the huge public relations potential with foursquare, what it can do for business, and how it can attract and retain customers. The resulting exposure can be extremely beneficial, especially if you view it from a smaller town perspective (where I currently live). Obviously in large urban centres there will be a lot more choices, which means a lot more information, not too mention intense competition for users and 'check-in's. But, I think foursquare could be perfect for venues in smaller places that are trying to build a business, and simply get their name out there.

As for Quick Response (QR) codes, I can definitely see how it could be put to amazing use from a pr perspective. QR codes are basically barcodes that can be scanned by your smartphone, which in turn uploads information to your phone. Last week in class it was mentioned that at a special event, t-shirts were made with QR codes for the participants. Once you scan the shirt with your smartphone, up pops information about the person. I LOVED that idea. I was also thinking that since I come from a food industry background, QR codes would work exceptionally well in making food labels an easy to read experience for consumers. Consumers always want to know where their food is being made, when, and what ingredients are being used. QR codes on meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, all manner of food products could be revolutionary, providing up to the minute information. This is real-time transparency that the food industry may be reluctant to embrace at first, but could turn out to be an excellent pr opportunity for both the practitioner and the industry. Hey maybe that could be my job one day?

Look what I created!!

I know, it's really simple and I'm getting overly excited about it, but I would never have known how to do this had I not taken this class (special thanks to Jonathan Laba for the instructions)!


  1. The comics were funny. It definitely reflects how much privacy we've given up for Foursquare!

  2. Thanks Emily, that's for sure - makes me wonder how much further we are willing to go/give up in regards to our personal privacy!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post. I'm also new to this social media world, so it's fun to discover everything it offers. I got excited when I created a QR Code

  4. Great post Steve! I totally agree that QR codes are fun and could be extremely great promotional tools if used in the right way to promote the right things. I think the main problem is not everyone in the general public gets what they are all about and how to use them... something that needs to be kept in consideration when using them in promotional campaigns.