Sitting in the lobby of a major publishing company recently, I looked down to see one of its magazines on the table. I picked it up, surprised a bit to see Microsoft Tags dotted throughout. Since I was about to speak to a group of the company's employees, including their digital strategy team which likely brought about the Tag use, I started snapping.
On the first page, there were four or five headlines, most with pictures. I snapped the Tag and my mobile phone immediately jumped to a web page ... with the same four or five headlines, with the same pictures. The same was true for the second and third Tags I found.
Explain to a national publishing company that people holding the printed version of page 3 don't want to go through the step of deploying a Tag only to see ... page 3 again? That's kind of what I had to do. Fortunately, the fourth Tag I found gave me a little hope -- it took me to an online photo gallery that accompanied the print stories, with additional photos.
The problem with most Tag executions, or even those with QR codes, is that most people implementing them are doing so for the sake of doing so. They aren't thinking the execution through to ensure the experience enhances what the user is already getting out of the brand, company, or publication. Traditional media outlets are the worst perpetrators. They're so lost in analog-land, they don't even see the vastness of the opportunity the digital world gives them.
The one thing your Microsoft Tag strategy needs is for you to understand that the person scanning the Tag expects something more.
Don't send them to your website. Don't send them to your Facebook page. Send them to the next step in something awesome.
Have a Tag on your menu? Send them to a list of exclusive recipes. Tag on your business card? Send them to a video that explains the benefits you get from signing up for the company e-newsletter, then have a link there to let them opt in to receive it. Have Tags implemented on store caps or table toppers? Send the user to deeper informational content about the product in question or the company itself.
Think of the communication where the Tag is located as Chapter 1, then where you send them with the Tag as Chapter 2. The only question left is an important one for you:
What story will you tell?
This is a guest post by Jason Falls, an author, speaker, and digital marketing strategist. His latest venture, ExploringSocialMedia.com, is a learning community and question-answer site for those who need help with digital marketing. He blogs at SocialMediaExplorer.com.