CategorySocial Media

Roundup of 2011 Part 1: QR Codes

I haven’t been amazing at updating this blog and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be a bit better at it. For now, here’s the first of a few little roundups of some things that happened in 2011.

QR About Me

Part 1: We all talked about QR codes. A lot.

And I sort of got bored of it. The main points made were as follows:

  • They’re quite cool and we think people scan them because they’re interesting
  • Very few people are actually backing up (or disproving) the above with analytics data
  • They’re not as pretty as we’d like them to be
  • A lot of people are using them very badly (for example to link to a non-mobile-optimised homepage)
  • We can do more with them. But we’re not.

So what can we learn from this? Well, I’m steering clear of any “2012 is the year of the QR code” nonsense, but I can do think that they are a useful and interesting way to provide creative extra content as part of a communications strategy.

Here, then, are my top tips and thinking points for using QR codes in your marketing:

  • Be absolutely certain that whichever URL your QR directs to is mobile optimised. Test it.
  • Try directing QRs to other places. It doesn’t just have to be a URL. What about using it on your gig poster to add the event to the user’s calendar? Or use one on your business cards to add your details to the user’s address book. You get the idea, and there’s a helpful list of possibilities here.
  • If you are going to use a URL, make it a good one. An exclusive behind-the-scenes video, a wallpaper or song download you can’t access any other way, for example.
  • Use Google Analytics (or or other web analytics system) to find out how many people are using your codes and arriving at your site by scanning them. If nobody is, re-think where they are and what they do.
  • Make sure it’s scannable. It needs to be large enough, clear enough and situated somewhere with mobile internet signal. Don’t become one of Mashable’s Top QR Code Fails.

Check back for part 2 later in the week!



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An Art Gallery in your Hand

Poolga have been curating illustration, typography and graphic design work since 2007, with the specific intention of providing high-quality wallpaper for the iPhone. The work included is digital art, sized specifically for iPhone or iPad, and created by established and up and coming illustrators.

They have been offering these wallpapers on their website since 2007 but have recently created their first app. It includes a selection of work by 15 of their favourite artists. It has a great interface and you can save the images quickly and easily to your photo album to set as wallpaper, or Tweet a link to the images for your community to see.

What they are really doing is bringing an art gallery to handheld devices. The Google Art Project is working on a similar basis. Art galleries are wonderful places but you have to have been to one to know that. Online and iPhone galleries are a brilliant way to introduce new audiences to the concept of an art gallery. Whether it’s digital illustration or the inside of the Prado gallery it is an easy way to be exposed to art on your own terms.

Poolga’s ‘share’ function is where the real strength lies. The fact that when I like one of the pieces I can post a link straight to Twitter involves me and my online community straight away in the work.

I don’t see why ‘real live’ art galleries don’t have this function yet. Surely it wouldn’t be so difficult for the Tate to put a QR code next to every work, taking you to a microsite which would share it across your social platforms? I can see this setting off quite a buzz but also continuing to work way down the line when people are still getting excited by the things they see.

Get Offline to Go Online

People socialising in a cafe

I read this post by @documentally recently.

He talks about going to a conference about online interaction and discovering that the real interaction took place on the ground, with the people rather than in the brand-heavy conference space or its associated online space.

It led me to think about what we actually use social media for. There are so many of us (myself included at times) who spend hours online being ‘social’. We’re sharing ideas about digital media, we’re talking about building Facebook pages, we’re updating each other on the status of our websites. The trouble is, does any of it actually mean anything?

From my point of view marketing the arts, I know I need to be using the online social space to communicate about and around the physical experience of live art that we present. There are some brilliant online projects, like the RSC’s Such Tweet Sorrow project, an online telling of the story of Romeo and Juliet, but the main bulk arts events and performances are offline, relying on a very tangible interaction between performer, audience, people and a space.

We use the digital to help us build communities, and to facilitate interactions that may not be possible when relying solely on the people on the ground, but at the end of the day it’s still a community that we’re building. By the same metrics as Documentally’s conference experience, it is not enough for an arts organisation to have 10,000 followers on Twitter. If we’re not socialising within our online community enough that they become our offline community (i.e. paying audience) then we’re not using the tools correctly.

At the end of the day social media websites and new technologies are just tools. It’s up to us to actually be social.


social media girl

So this blog is part of my attempt to construct a clean, organised online portfolio for my professional world. A blog is an obvious place to start, and I have my own domain. So far, so good.

Now, what about other blog-esque social publishing sites, social networks, microblogs, curating and multimedia websites? There are so many brilliant sites out there, it’s hard to know where to start.

Here, so far, are my choices and thoughts:

1. Twitter
It’s easy, it’s quick. There’s a lovely iPhone app which lets me tweet about anything and everything when I’m out and about. It’s also a great forum for taking part in local (or worldwide) conversations and joining in with ideas.

2. Linked In
The professional networking website. Unfortunately, at the moment, I wonder if Linked In is more something I’ve been told I need rather than something I’m convinced of. Still, early days, and I’m happy to keep working it out.

3. Flickr
I’ve been a Flickr user since 2005, not long after it started. It’s a great way to share and enjoy photography and, if you have a Pro Account, useful for storing original-size images online for backup.

4. YouTube
I’m not a vlogger, though it is something I’d like to look into doing when I have the time and equipment. I have a YouTube profile so I can curate a collection of favourite videos from other users and share them easily.

5. Posterous
This is very new to me. I used to use Tumblr to post and store links and photographs that I wanted to keep, but the modern outlook of Posterous and its ability to multi-post across several networks seems to be really useful.

You may notice the conspicuous absence of Facebook. I have Facebook (what did you think, I was a crazed cavewoman?) but I really feel that it’s a social thing with limited professional value. Apologies if you were looking forward to embarrassing pictures of me at university.

What do you use? Do you have any recommendations for me? Comment below!

Image from iPhone Wallpapers HD app, artist unknown.

© 2017 Jen Thornton

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