6-2: Using Social Media Tools

There are many ways to use social media and an equal if not greater number of social media tools. For this post I investigated three different social media tools, and then presented my reasoning behind what might be each tool’s strengths and weaknesses. I chose which social media tools with which to experiment from the list of new media tools found at Aids.gov.

New Media Tool 1: QR Codes

QR Codes, or quick-response codes are a lot like bar codes in that they take text and present it in a graphical manner. QRstuff.com is a website dedicated to the generation and use of QR codes as well as a subscription-based service that provides marketing tools and support for the implementation of QR codes as part of a customer’s marketing campaign. QRStuff.com offers some technical information on their site, “Storing up to 4296 characters they are internationally standardized under ISO 18004, so a QR code is a QR code all over the world – they’ve been big in Japan forever, broke into Europe and the UK a few years back, and are now popular in North America.”

I generated the red QR code above, that when scanned with a mobile device, will simply open my blog in a web browser. QR codes are typically utilized in print pieces and on in-store advertisements – although, QRstuff.com provides links to venders who will print your personal QR code onto virtually any physical product such as clothing and coffee mugs. Adding a QR code to a printed marketing campaign can offer another level of customer interaction and engagement. If a customer wants further information about a specific product they see in a magazine, they can scan a QR code and be taken to the companies website. I think this can be a useful tool, but by itself, I think the QR code is not as effective as it’s inventors would like us to believe. The QR code by itself does not relay much information, and requires context in order for someone to want to scan it. Another downside comes form the fact that mobile phone users must open a dedicated app in order to scan the image. I know that in order to scan a QR code on my iPhone, I had to download a third-party app. I think these extra steps could potentially turn off a customer who doesn’t want waste time performing extra steps in order to simply visit a company or organization’s website. Additionally, the code graphic by itself is not aesthetically pleasing – at least from a design perspective. However, it is possible to integrate logos and images into the QR code itself, enabling the square codes to perhaps be used as stand alone marketing pieces.

Having previously used QR codes in a postcard mailing that solicited potential donors to register for a charity golf tournament, I think QR codes have their uses, but only as part of a larger and more diverse marketing strategy. I think individuals are well versed using their mobile phone’s internet browsers that they would rather skip the scan, and type in a URL. Lastly, I think QR codes may be useful if they are generated with providing convenience in mind. For example, if you need assistance with a product and and to chat with a product specialist, you could scan a QR code which would automatically open, pre-populate the contact field, and send a request for assistance.

New Media Tool 2: Picture Sharing Sites

The photo sharing site with which I chose to experiment is Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. A photographic-based social media platform, Instagram users are able to post square photos to a live feed, as well as apply different photographic filters to their images prior to posting. While primarily a mobile app, Instagram feeds can be access from a desktop computer’s web browser. Users can also post up to 7 seconds of video with audio—a feature that has been widely used by companies like GAP and Mercedes-Benz. In a recent on line article from AdWeek.com (2015), contributor Garrett Sloane cites results from L2 and Olapic stating that Brands are now posting more photos on Instagram than they are on FaceBook. The article points to the Instagram’s wealthy and youthful demographic of users as one of the main reasons for the increased usage by brands.

The app itself is very easy to use once downloaded to a mobile device, and the available photo filters can sometimes compensate for a lack of talent on the part of the photographer.

New Media Tool 3: Twitter

Twitter can be considered a “micro-blogging”(Aids.gov, 2014) platform in that entries are limited to 140 characters. In terms of the app’s popularity Aids.gov (2013) points out that approximately 177 million tweets are tweeted each day—although that number has likely risen significantly in the past two years. A 2014 survey conducted by The Pew Research Center found that despite a steadily rising percentage of adults using Twitter, that percentage is far below that of Facebook users (48% less to be specific).


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