While reflecting on Brenna Roth's new article on QR Codes, I started to brainstorm down the path of what would be fun and novel ways to employ QR Codes in marketing campaigns. In considering the realm of games, it occurred to me that classic (and easy to understand) tile puzzles would be a fun and fairly intuitive option. A tile puzzle is just a NxN square of tiles where you slide around the tiles one at a time until the tiles form a picture. For example, a directing you to Mining the Social Web might look something like this:
Merchants could create a tile puzzle from a QR Code and send out a broadcast message directing customers to the puzzle. Once the broadcast is made, it's a race for the first N customers to solve the QR Code puzzle, scan it with their mobile device and claim their reward through some mechanism. Perhaps the mechanism is just successfully accessing the URL, but perhaps it is even more fun than that. Perhaps it presents you with a special offer or -- gasp -- offers you a special offer OR the opportunity to complete for an even more fabulous prize by completing another puzzle. A more difficult QR Code tile puzzle? Or, it offers you a prize OR what's behind door #3? (Wait, what happened to door #2?) The variations that could be applied to this core idea are too numerous to name. There's lots of potential.
As an aside, if it's a concern that people might share their solution to the puzzle, unique QR Codes could be generated on a per customer basis and distributed privately such as via email or a direct message on Twitter.
Just for grins, I found an online service that allows you to specify a custom image and create tile puzzle, but unfortunately, there's no way to hide the solution. Therefore, this particular service wouldn't be a viable option for a contest since the QR Code solution could be scanned in immediately. Still, the core idea might actually have some merit and is at least one fun example of a creative way that merchants could employ QR Codes.
What's the most creative way you've seen QR Codes used?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matthew A. Russell, Principal and Co-founder of Zaffra, spent the past 11 months writing Mining the Social Web, a concise volume on how to apply lightweight Python technologies to the problem of mining social web data. Learn more about it by following @SocialWebMining on Twitter, visiting (and liking!) Mining the Social Web’s Facebook Page, and browsing the source code for the book on GitHub.