The short answer If you are a techie reading this, skip ahead a bit, because I’m about to explain what a QR code is first. For anyone that doesn’t know what a QR code is, well here you go. This is what they look like. They are ugly looking boxes that remind you of what used to happen when your NES games would get dusty and all the pixels (8-bits) would scatter across the screen. But what is it? Think of it like you would a bar code. These little puppies are scannable and they are mainly used to drive folks to some space on the interwebs.

So what is their purpose? Actually, they are really useful. When you are out and about and you see a QR code, you can scan it with your smartphone (using one of the thousand QR scanner apps out there) and it will take you to whatever URL that particular pixel box had assigned to it. This saves you the trouble of having to stop and try to enter a URL on a touch screen while holding onto your kids, shopping bags or both. The United States is a little behind on this technology, but it is starting to build steam here on the home turf, if people use them correctly.

However, businesses floundering around with their social media agendas see QR codes as just one more thing they have to do online…wrong. I have seen any number of QR codes on businesses’ Facebook walls and have to ask why? I was talking to an executive in Austin who was complaining about QR codes she had to create and post online, and I had to ask her why she was wasting her time? That is silly! If you are already online, on your computer, QR codes become obsolete. They are for people who need quick access and they have a smartphone with a camera to give it to them.

QR codes can help augment a physical location, connecting the online community with the physical one. Think of it as an express lane between brick and mortar and digital. For example, residential real estate brokers should have QR codes on their For Sale signs. Those QR codes should then lead to videos of the home, the real estate broker, the builder, etc. plus incentives. Start thinking people.