This post will give an overview of recent news related to Quick-Response codes, privacy and anonymity and the number of social network users.
Quick Response codes
In an attempt to exploit the power of social media and Web 2.0 and introduce successful marketing channels that are based on context-aware information, ‘Paperlinks’, a company which enable businesses to establish their own advertising campaigns, is providing companies with QR codes that can be scanned by customers to get promotions about the products that are offered . By integrating these codes with the label of the business (e.g. a wine producer), a customer can use the Paperlinks app to scan a QR code of product and be redirected to the appropriate page.
This business-to-business platform has been used by more than 10,000 companies in less than a year and has been proven to be more successful than traditional advertising methods (e.g. promotional banners). Because QR codes are cheap and accessible by more customers, this advertising method allows the businesses to extend the brand experience and increase the customer engagement. Interestingly, more than 49% of American shoppers who found a QR code on a product have scanned it using their smartphones . However, the idea introduced by this company is a pure advertising platform which does not allow the users to share ideas about the topics that they are interested in and a page on this application can be created by paying a subscription fee.
Leapin.it allows people to share their interests and create rooms for any product, an event or an object that has a QR code as well as enabling businesses to establish their presence in this system. Mikal E. Belicove  pointed out that many people are using their smartphones to scan product barcodes or QR codes for comparative shopping. By scanning these codes, they can compare the prices of different items and their features to choose what to buy. Belicove mentioned that more than 50% of smartphone users in America used their phones while they are shopping inside a store to search about product-related information. According to a report which studied the usage of smartphones in the U.S. , it was found that more than 20% of the users scanned a QR code as well as different usage of phones between men and women. For example, women tend to take photos, share them with their friends and text other people to get information about a specific product while men are more likely to do some research and read posts about different products . Therefore, people can use Leapin.it system for comparative shopping and are offered many built-in tools that give them a rich and real time user experience (e.g. they can post a video, take a picture, read a post and have voice chatting facilities).
Gwen Moran  emphasized the importance of QR codes for businesses as they were scanned by more than 20 million U.S. users in three months. She pointed out that exploiting the capabilities of this technology can help businesses to come up with creative ideas to connect with their customers . In her article, several examples are given for companies that took advantage of QR codes to advertise their products and the benefits that obtained. For example, WebiMax firm placed its QR code in a banner advertisement on numerous websites in an attempt to track the customers who arrived at their website by comparing which QR codes have been scanned by most of the visitors. They also embed other information in the QR code such as their e-mail address to allow the customer to contact them. Other companies printed their QR code on many of their items (e.g. mugs, T-shirts and pens) to increase the number of visitors to their websites, newsletters and their pages on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and as a result of this more following requests and YouTube views were generated . In addition, it is recommended to use QR codes in business cards to link the real world of a person with his/her virtual world .
In Leapin.it system, the freemium business model is based on allowing individuals to subscribe and have their own rooms and QR codes which will give them the ability to customize and personalize their own rooms which can be accessed by scanning their QR codes. Another interesting project has introduced the concept of “smart pajamas” that have printed images which can be scanned by children to choose bedtime stories to read . The website of this project had more than 20,000 visitors in 2012 and people started to buy these smart pajamas for their children which cost 30$ each . From the above mentioned news about Quick Response codes, it can be figured out that these codes are being used by men, women, children and businesses and because of this, our system has no age restrictions and can be used for any item that has a QR code or a Barcode.
Privacy and anonymity
In an article that encourages anonymity in social media rather than tying real world identities with virtual ones, the author argues that having real world identities is not the only solution for preventing cyberbullying and that people need to have an online presence which is independent from their real worlds . Therefore, having to write your real name on Facebook, sign up with an email on YouTube and provide your phone number to Hotmail in order to get an email address breaks the beauty of anonymity in the Internet. He pointed out that having a real identity, gives people who are not interested in some of these aspects, information that they do not want them to know and emphasises the importance of sharing this information with people who have similar interests .
Interestingly, this can be linked to the idea of our system because the users have completely anonymous identities and at the same time they can share information with people who have similar interests through scanning a QR code that link all the users who interested in one thing together. Furthermore, it has been found that more than 11% of Internet users use tools to help them stay anonymous in the Internet and 56% of users reported that their personal privacy is threatened in social media websites .
Number of users
Videos, photos and text can be shared on our social network platform. Therefore, understanding the number of users and the amount of shared content on comparable social networks such as Instagram and YouTube is important. Instagram was launched in 2010 and within less than four years, more than 20 billion photos have been shared on this platform . Currently, Instagram has more than twenty million active users per month who share sixty million photos daily . For Twitter, the number of active users in the United Kingdom is expected to reach more than 13.5 million in 2014 and more than 80% of Twitter users access it using their smartphones .
The uptake of rich media publishing by social networks demonstrates the growing demand by users. This gives promising future for our social network because it will provide different tools for sharing videos, photos and text all in one platform.
 How One Small Company Is Using QR Codes. [Online] Available:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220359 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Smartphones Become the Go-To Tool for Shoppers. [Online] Available:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/222977 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 2012 Mobile Future in Focus. [Online] Available:
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations_and_Whitepapers/2012/2012_Mobile_Future_in_Focus [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Three Ways to Use QR Codes for Business. [Online] Availabe:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222790 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 8 Ways to Make Your Business Cards Stand Out. [Online] Available:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224000 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Bedtime Gets High-Tech With Digital PJs. [Online] Available:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229375 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Why should I reveal my ‘real identity’ online? Anonymity isn’t so terrible. [Online] Available:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/15/reveal-real-identity-online-anonymity [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Privacy tools used by 28% of the online world, research finds. [Online] Available:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/21/privacy-tools-censorship-online-anonymity-tools [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 Instagram reaches 200 million users. [Online] Available:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/26/instagram-200-million-users-facebook-mobile-photo-sharing [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
 More than one-fifth of Britons will use Twitter this year, claims report. [Online] Available:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/20/twitter-uk-active-users-2014 [Accessed: 25/ 4/ 2014]
Edited by Laura Hyrjak