September 26, 2012

Foursquare: Your New App URL Scheme Is Breaking My QR Code!

More and more local businesses, retailers, and restaurants are using QR codes to help drive check-in strategies on Foursquare. Instead of forcing customers to retype login credentials on Foursquare’s mobile site, some businesses are taking this a step further by linking mobile customers directly into their venue profile within Foursquare’s mobile app.

Totally brilliant, right?


Foursquare's Mobile Web Login Prompt

Why ask for my password if I have the app?


Unfortunately, Foursquare’s revamped app release this summer also introduced a change that breaks some of these “app links” for consumers. One of the changes was to the app’s “URL scheme.” URL schemes are like a meta tag for an app. They’re critical for effectively deep linking iOS and Android users into deep app pages (such as venue profiles), both from other apps as well as from mobile web or barcode media.

Here is the old app URL scheme:

Here is the new app URL scheme:

See the difference? Making the “venue” field plural seems like a minor detail. But since it’s not backwards-compatible, customers who scan a QR that encoded the previous URL scheme syntax are now finding the QR merely opens the Foursquare app, not the location’s venue.

This is like getting a 404 error page on a website. To check-in to the venue, mobile customers must re-navigate within the app to find the profile and then check-in. And unless a user complains, businesses may never know about the issue. (More about Foursquare’s support of URL schemes for deep linking into the app here.)

The point is, if your company has QR codes in production that point to Foursquare’s old URL scheme, update the destination immediately.

This raises an important lessons in mobile marketing agility: app developers for leading social media services (Foursquare, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, et al), can and will change their app data, architecture, and URL scheme support. When that happens, unexpected user-experiences will impact the same businesses trying to integrate these digital social platforms into their physical businesses.

The best defense? Use agile QR Foursquare App Iconencoding services that let you update the end destination as the landscape evolves. Put another way, don’t put QR codes into production unless they provide this control. Better yet, use encoding services that make your social QR codes “app-aware” by adapting the user experience based on whether the app is installed or not.



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