Are You Tech-Savvy or a Tech Fool?

FourSquare FoolBefore I get into today’s post, I must first warn everyone that it might be a little bit of a rant to some and different from my normal how-to type of post.  Here’s why I am ranting today.  I recently received a friend request from someone on one of my favorite social networks to interact with people, FourSquare.  So, I clicked on the request notification on my phone which brought me to their profile.  When I saw their profile image, I almost blew my gasket.

Instead of finding a smiling face for a person named Andrew, I found their profile photo had been replaced by a QR code.  Now, my guess is either Andrew is a really ugly person who broke a camera the last time it tried to take a photo of him, or some marketing genius that he listened to at some point said that QR codes are cutting edge technology that he should implement immediately to make himself look more tech-savvy.

Now, I am not going to get into a debate on QR codes today as that isn’t the point of the post.  Instead I would like to focus on way this tool was implemented.  In my opinion, I feel Andrew did so many things wrong by using a QR code in this manner.

First, social networks are designed to encourage social interactions and connections with others.  When you replace your profile photo with a QR code, or a cartoon avatar, a branding logo, or something else impersonal, you immediately change the mindset people have of you when they are deciding whether to connect with you or not.  I know for me, when I see those, my mind immediately jumps to wondering if this person is going to try to push a product down my throat and beg me to buy something from them.

Secondly, Foursquare is a platform designed and built to be used almost exclusively from a mobile device.  They have had over 2 billion check ins from mobile devices.  In contrast, according to, their website only receives about 2 million visits.  That means that less than 10% of all their members actually visit the full website version.  The point behind a QR code is to give someone an easy way to access your content from their mobile phone from some sort of printed material by simply scanning an image.

Lastly, in order to scan a QR code, you need to have a phone with a scanning app.  So, for me to scan Andrew’s QR code, I would need a second phone since probably 95% of the people who would see it are on a mobile device already.  You can’t use the camera function of a phone to scan something on it’s own screen.  So a second device would be necessary to access the QR code.  Personally, I don’t know too many people who would go through the effort of borrowing a second phone from someone else just to scan your code.

To me this just makes someone like Andrew look like a fool instead of someone tech savvy.  So, before you listen to the next guru or expert who mentions the next latest & greatest technology tool, take a moment to think through how you are implementing that tool.  Ask yourself if this will make me more tech-savvy or look like a tech fool.

Jeremy Blanton

Jeremy Blanton is the Co-Founder of 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors. He is a social media speaker who shares with thousands of people each year on things like how to use Facebook for Business, Blogging, and How to use Twitter.

When he is not coaching or speaking, he spends most of his time working on Custom WordPress Sites for his clients.

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  • sfessel

    Another great post Jeremy. So, I’m just curious. Did you ever scan his QR code to see where it took you?

  • Yes, it went to some bogus site that wasn’t even mobile friendly.

  • David

    Hey Jeremy, did you mean to say this –

    “You can use the camera function of a phone to scan something on it’s own screen. ”

    I’m thinking that you meant, you can’t.

    Great post though.

  • Good catch David.