Social Media Tips For Restaurants

How to Use User-Generated Content (UGC) to Promote Your Restaurant

Great restaurants require great marketing and advertising strategies. Fortunately, many restaurants don’t have to hire or pay traditional marketers to come up with great marketing strategies. Restaurants can create strong brand awareness with existing customers. It’s possible to get new customers with old customers.

Not sure how? No worries. We know all about content and are here to help.

UGC (User Generated Content) has become one of the most effective marketing strategies employed by restaurants to keep old customers happy while reeling in new guys. UGC is super useful for many reasons – it’s customer-centric, it offers product authenticity, and it reduces your spend on traditional marketing strategies which are something your competitors are likely doing.

Pro tip: focusing on UGC will set you apart from your competition because UGC can only be sourced from your biggest fans.

What is user generated content?

User-generated content is really straight forward. It’s media content – videos, product reviews, product descriptions, photos etc. that customers create. It highlights your brand as a restaurant. UGC is content created by users online, especially on social media platforms. While usually contributed freely without any compulsion from brands that use them, it can also be driven using contests and other incentives from your restaurant.

As a restaurant owner, brand awareness should be at the top of your list. And, it would be best if you had a great marketing strategy to achieve excellent brand promotion. The best choice you have at creating an authentic and active community that helps your brand go from zero to hero is UGC.  

However, knowing about UGC and making UGC promote your restaurant’s brand are two different things.

Here’s a quick guide to promoting your restaurant with UGC:

Find and Gather User Generated Content

Simple as it sounds, many restaurants forget to gather existing user-generated content. If your restaurant is currently in business, then there’s a high chance that UGC already gets created. The first thing you need to do is find and gather that UGC. This step is crucial because it will help you decide the best kind of UGC created by your customers, allowing you to be more direct in your use of UGC.

Gathering UGC might appear daunting at first, but it gets easier once you know where to look. Review sites like Yelp and Google are great for gathering user-generated content. 

Perhaps, the best place to find UGC for restaurants is Instagram and other social media platforms. Take your time, and select content that tells your stories best.

Bonus, as long as you get permission, consider adding photos of meals to your online ordering platform. With eHungry, you can include pictures of all of your menu categories and items. 

Motivate the creation of more content from your biggest fans

There’s no such thing as too much content. Leveraging unpaid contributors (customers), to create valuable content for your brand gives your restaurant more exposure, which in turn increases the customer base of your restaurant.

Encouraging the creation of UCG is super simple.

Organize creative contests

It’s no secret that everyone puts in more effort when there’s something to gain. As a restaurant owner, you could set up an exciting contest that involves customers bringing up awesome UGC to win a special meal from you. When creating a competition to generate UGC, you must study customer trends and identify the aspect of your business that creates the most buzz. It is also vital to choose the social media platform that has the potential to motivate more contributions.

How to execute:

  • Determine what your customers like and what will create a buzz
  • Offer something in exchange for a prize (a three tiered prize system would be best)
  • Encourage people to engage through shares and likes

Giveaways Mean More Smiles

Customers want to feel appreciated. Reward customers who create fantastic user-generated content with freebies, reposts, discounts, and any other valuable reward. Restaurants who welcome UGC with bonuses are more likely to pull more UGC.

How to execute:

  • Determine what your customers like (use data to see what people are ordering)
  • Create a giveaway that entices people to want to submit their photos or reviews for a chance to win what they like
  • Post the content you’re given on your social channels.

Brand Generated Hashtags

Come up with hashtags that identify your restaurant and encourage users to create UGC with these hashtags. As an example, you could use Instagram or Twitter to spread a hashtag that speaks for your restaurant. To help with spreading the hashtag, you could put up signs (maybe even your restaurant logo) that make iconic backgrounds. Everyone loves a good picture. More pictures, more hashtags, more UGC.

How to execute:

  • Make your hashtag short
  • Ensure it is unique and easy to understand
  • Ensure customers know to use it
  • Search the hashtag on social platforms to find content being posted by your fans
  • If something speaks to you reach out to the user to request permission to use the content piece

Start a User Content Generated Campaign

There are so many great examples of how UGC campaigns have helped promote many brands. One of these examples is the Coca Cola UGC campaign. Coca Cola introduced bottles that had the personal names of consumers and then requested these consumers to share pictures from all over the world with their personalized Coca Cola bottle. People enjoyed posting these pictures so much that Coca Cola didn’t need to do any more advertising. Another great example of UGC campaigns is the socially relevant UGC campaign by Aerie.

Make UGC campaigns promote your restaurant. Select a socially relevant cause. Choose the social media platform with the potential for the most activity. Get people to contribute—repost or Retweet UGCs where you have got consent from the original contributor.

There are so many reasons why user-generated content works. It’s authentic. It’s trustworthy. UGC creates a community. UGC tells your restaurant’s story best. UGC costs very little money.

Perhaps, the best thing about leveraging user-generated content to promote your restaurant is that the very act of creating UGC serves to promote your restaurant. All you’ve got to do is keep the best user-generated content coming.

P. S. It’s essential always to acknowledge the original contributor (your customers) every time you promote your restaurant with user-generated content (UGC).