Instagram, like all social media platforms, invests heavily in its e-commerce capabilities. But while its ambitions look to the future, it also looks back to an underrated marketing tool to boost those ambitions. – the QR code.
The QR code is experiencing a renaissance. Once mostly seen in out-of-home (OOH) field campaigns, the code’s value has skyrocketed as marketers have learned to understand its broader implications for attribution and analytics.
Instagram, which finds itself falling behind for e-commerce compared to platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat, is now quietly rolling out a new QR-based feature for all users. After a limited trial of the tool, as noted by Alessandro Paluzzi, the platform is allowing its wider user base to share links to reels and posts through the generation of a QR code.
A Meta representative told Techcrunch, “To make it easier for individuals and businesses to share specific content, we recently launched the ability to create QR codes for profiles, tags, locations, reels and more. .”
It’s a new life for the QR code. In 2015, Snapchat experimented with the launch of QR-based Snapcodes, allowing users to easily follow their friends. TikTok has also launched its own visually distinct QR code to allow users to share their own profiles.
The tool has also been used in the marketing of print titles. Associated Media of South Africa – which among other things publishes regional editions of Cosmopolitan – has seen positive results from printing QR codes next to products in its print magazines. This allowed its brand partners to track the purchase funnel from an analog to a digital product with much greater specificity than would otherwise have been possible.
At the time, Associated Media Managing Director Julia Raphaely said, “We started with a QR code because in South Africa it’s the payment gateway that’s very well recognised. We partnered with a bank-powered QR code technology and started testing it. »
In the rest of the world, however, the QR code was mostly seen as a tool that had never lived up to its potential. Today, however, the public is more familiar with the codes for sharing information and links. In its most recent Marvel series, for example, Disney included QR codes in TV shows that take users to bonus content.
A social strategy
Now, however, the QR code has returned to prominence as a viable marketing tool. On social platforms, as in print, codes are used to open the buying funnel for consumers – and to provide more measurement options for advertisers.
Jordan Lukeš, Communications Director at Emplifi, explains: “QR codes offer a wealth of opportunities for brands in terms of social-forward marketing. We know that influencer marketing is a huge hit with young consumers, in particular. Imagine how it could improve the shopping experience – you could have QR codes linking product information to posts where an influencer wears the item, or even include QR codes on physical clothes racks in stores.
“Not only does this create a phygital experience for the shopper, it provides a new way for brands to drive and monitor their engagement in a way that can be traced back to the bottom line.”
The codes would also help solve one of Instagram’s eternal problems. – that of discovery. As more consumers use platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest to search and discover recommendations, opening up the buying funnel for partner brands, Instagram is struggling to match their capabilities. This QR code integration allows its creators to share their posts off-platform, which could help solve this problem.
Beyond that, the main benefit for Instagram is that of attribution. The QR code allows for more direct and demonstrable measures of effectiveness when it comes to linking to advertising partners’ products.
Max Harris and Ali Moloney of Media Bounty explain: “For advertisers, this trend has provided the added benefit of collecting audience data for future marketing purposes. For example, QR codes can store numerical information such as when, where, and how often you scan a code, which usually leads to an app or website that then tracks your personal information. Therefore, the rise of QR code follows the agreement between platforms and users as we exchange our data for access and convenience.
The QR code fell victim to Amara’s law, and its first use cases were arguably too early to capitalize on the rise of the smartphone camera and social media. As Instagram and other major social platforms make huge strides in developing their e-commerce operations, the QR code has again found its place in the marketing arsenal.