The 2010 Barcamp Nashville QR Code Experiment

Barcamp Nashville was held October 16, 2010 and in a moment of inspiration I created a little QR code mobile experiment. The project was setup and implemented in an hour was fun all day. The results were a surprising.

Barcamp Nashville is a free “unconference” conference that is held every fall in downtown Nashville. The event is volunteer where the members of the tech and marketing community come together to teach and learn from each other. It’s an amazing day of networking and a day I look forward to every year.

One of the coolest aspects of the event is the opportunity to signup and speak sharing what you know. Unlike traditional “unconferences” Barcamp Nashville has grown to the point where it needs more structure and allows speakers to signup in advance. Last year it took three weeks for all the slots to fill and this year it was three hours. I was one of the unfortunate people that did not get a speaking spot.

Previously, I was just happy to attend but I gave the speaking role a try during Podcamp Nashville in the spring and to my delight it was an amazing nervous experience. Hence I had set my sights on doing the same at Barcamp in the fall. I had thought about it for a while and decided on giving a presentation called “Facebook is Dead. Hub and Spoke Marketing.” (Maybe next year) So when I didn’t get a spot to present I was pretty upset, even to the point of making a few comments that hurt my friends that were in the process of assembling the 2010 Barcamp Nashville. A lesson in self control learned.

The Setup

Up until the day of the event I didn’t have any plans and an idea struck in me the shower. If I couldn’t present I could at least be creative using technology and make the day a little bit more fun. The idea was using QR codes in sort of a scavenger hunt that led to different quotes online. Each quote was picked for humor or a idea about technology.

After my shower I hopped on the computer and started in with very little time to spare. I setup a subdomain on my website so there I could asset clean stats with out any sort of referrals other than mine. Then I assembled the quotes from around the web and built my simple website. For each page I created a link and grabbed a QR code they provided. This is a new feature which my original idea came from.

All was going well but I felt I needed something as the end kicker and it hit me with an idea of a Rick Roll. Not only that but the final one I set it up that even if you scanned the code with your phone but you needed a friend because on the webpage was another QR code. That way even if you got to it you needed a friend to scan your phone. When you got to the final page I had setup a HTML5 video player so people could see the video, YouTube didn’t work because they don’t play music videos on mobile devices.

Finally, I assembled the QR codes in Photoshop, labeled them one through five with #bcn10 hash tag, printed them out and cut out the codes. This was done so I could distribute them throughout the event.

This whole process of start and finish was a little over an hour.

The Event

I arrived at the 2010 Barcamp Nashville a little chipper than I thought I would have and set my little experiment in action. At first I didn’t tell anybody it was me doing it, I just dropped them on tables and in rooms. This is pretty common at Barcamp for people to leave business cards all over. After about an hour I had covered the place pretty good but I wasn’t seeing much reaction. So I tweeted it. This began the momentum that I was hoping to see, the QR codes started to disappear. I don’t know if they were being collected but something was happening. Shortly others stared tweeting as well.  After a few hours I started to share my little creative experiment with a few people and it seemed like people liked it. By the end of the day I didn’t see a code laying around, again I’m not sure if they were trashed or collected.


So what were the results? Actually, I was pretty impressed. The day of Barcamp Nashville the website had over 300 page views and about 150 people. Each link was clicked between 20-30 times and access via QR codes resulted in 90% of total traffic for the day. The most difficult page to access with the Rick Roll video was accessed 15 times and the nobody saw my final quote. It was a link titled “Who?” below the video. I tweeted a link to that quote and received over 50 views.

So what was learned? QR codes are an interesting way to market since to the general consumer they still are new. They are easy to create and use in order to enhance any promotion. They help you provide more information beyond what’s in front of a consumer in a somewhat easier way than cramming it into a limited space. Are QR codes a fad? I don’t know but they made for an interesting day at Barcamp Nashville.

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About mdave

David has been using computers to create his visions since the early days of the Apple II. When the world wide web hit he dove in head first learning HTML and building his first websites. After spending a few years at a software services firm in Milwaukee he moved to Nashville and shortly after the Music Industry grabbed hold. He joined the Country Music Association as webmaster designing, building and managing the CMA Awards, CMA Music Festival and corporate websites for the 8 years. He started their social media reach-out and when he left the CMA could reach over 50,000 fans directly. David currently freelances by day, codes by night along with producing/hosting the Nashville Tech Feed a technology podcast. David was named by Billboard Magazine as one of the top 140 people in the Music Industry to follow on Twitter. , Facebook and Twitter