Yes, I know, no one seems to care too much about QR codes as a quick connection option on social platforms, and I realize that, despite every social app releasing its own QR code tool, they still don't seem to be gaining momentum.
But that's not true for all regions, and this week, Instagram has launched new QR codes for its profiles, which will provide another quick scan option to help users connect with people and businesses through the app.
But Instagram already has QR codes, right?
Back in 2018, Instagram launched what it called 'Nametag Codes' which were essentially QR codes for profiles, though a slightly different variation.
Nametag Codes, as you can see, were designed to be highly visual and engaging, in order to encourage usage.
But, evidently, they didn't catch on, and now, Instagram is replacing Nametag Codes with QR codes instead.
Why? The limitation of Nametag Codes was that they could only be scanned in via the Instagram camera, but QR codes can also be scanned by regular iOS and Android camera tools, immediately linking to a person's IG profile.
So QR codes are more universal - and while, as noted, it may not seem like that will make much difference, or lead to more people using them, QR codes are actually a very big deal in certain regions.
As reported by The Economist, QR codes are regularly used in both China and Japan - in fact, QR code-enabled transactions totaled more than $1.65 trillion in these two countries back in 2016 (yes, 'trillion' with a 't'). That's why social platforms still see such opportunity in the option – and while Instagram isn't available in China due to restrictions on outside platforms, Japan is one of the platform's fastest-growing markets, and presents significant opportunity for the app.
And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes may once again get a chance to shine in more regions. The need to limit physical contact, and maintain distancing, means that QR codes offer another way to share relevant business information easily, while respecting those boundaries. And with COVID restrictions set to linger for some time yet, that could become a habitual shift, with more businesses looking to provide quickly accessible information via a simple code that potential customers can scan in.
QR codes could also offer an alternative way for customers to share their contact information with stores, in order to get updates and info sent to them. That would eliminate the need for conversations at the in-store counter, providing hokey email addresses that you created when you were a teenager which don't sound so funny now that you're saying them aloud in front of a group of waiting shoppers.
There are various ways that QR codes could assist, minimizing contact and simplifying processes. It still might not seem like they'll catch on in Western markets, but there are opportunities there, and it makes sense for Instagram to continue developing its QR options.