Round Rock homepage QR Code. Scan to go to our website.

By Jael Perales and Kristen McLaughlin

Social media has been a major topic of interest in the Austin/Round Rock area, especially with the annual South By Southwest Interactive Conference being held in Austin during Spring Break. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and QR Codes are among the many outlets being used and discussed.  As a university in one of the fastest growing areas with a tech savvy customer base, we are striving to implement new social media outlets at Texas State University Round Rock Campus.

This past week, we began using QR codes on the plasma screens that you see around campus. If you have a moment, please scan the QR codes to link to our social media.

QR codes are bar codes redesigned to increase the amount of information that can be stored on them. Whereas your standard bar code is 1D (i.e. it can only store information from left to right), a QR code is considered to be 2D because it stores information and can be scanned both from left to right and from top to bottom.

QR codes were first created to be used by Japanese auto makers to keep track of vehicles as they were being manufactured. However, the potential use of the codes made them ideal for marketing and promotion, and since the individuals holding the patents on QR codes agreed to allow people to create and use them free of charge, they have quickly been put to use all over the world. QR codes are like hyperlinks for the physical world, removing the need to have a computer in front of you in order to use a hyperlink. In fact, QR codes don’t have to be digital. You can print them out or even iron one onto a t-shirt and become a walking hyperlink! And no more grabbing a pen and paper to write down hyperlinks either, because QR scanner apps have been developed and can be downloaded for free to your mobile device. QRafter is a popular choice for iPhones, QR Pal and QR Droid are good choices for Android devices, and Kaywa Reader is useful for many phone varieties as well.

The QR codes you can now see on the Social Media slide displayed on the plasma screens throughout the Avery Building were developed through Microsoft Tag. They are simple and easy to make, and Microsoft Tag will allow you to make both QR codes and their own brand of codes called Tags. Tags are more customizable than QR codes as far as visual design, but the way they function is essentially the same. Microsoft Tag also provides a scanner that can read QR codes and Tags.

You can try making QR codes yourself. Create an account with Microsoft Tag or, if you just want to make one now without setting up an account, try QR Stuff. You can use them to promote your Facebook page by creating a code with the link to your page, or you can even create a hidden word scavenger hunt by using QR codes to store text instead of hyperlinks. The uses for QR codes are many, and the only limitation currently is your own imagination.

Since you are reading this post, you are obviously aware that we have recently started a blog. The blog is produced using WordPress, but there are other websites available (e.g. blogger) for those who are interested in starting a blog. Through the blog, we hope to keep students, faculty and staff updated about the university and also attract the attention of prospective students.

Students are definitely not strangers to social media. This past week, Texas State students had the chance to cover South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin through various media outlets. Shannon Delaney wrote a blog two weeks ago about this amazing opportunity.

Social media has been impacting universities and, many times, it is not even the employees who are starting the conversation. While reading a CNN article, I found a perfect example of college students driving social media about the university. The story was about Lucie Fink, a prospective student who was accepted to John Hopkins University. Wanting to get a student perspective about the university, she looked to social media. After reading the comments, she started her own social media site, Hopkins Interactive.

This is just one example of social media success at a university. Texas State University-San Marcos recently won a social media award from the Austin American-Statesman. They also have a blog, Twitter and Facebook as well as other outlets. We would like to get your input about our social media efforts and ideas you would like to see implemented. Please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our blog. E-mail or for more information.