5 Tips That Ensure Your Restaurant Prospers Via User-Generated Content Marketing
In a perfect world, every restaurant owner would have a professional photographer and a team of videographers on staff.
There would be no shortage of mouth-watering, high-quality photos to use in restaurant marketing campaigns.
But this isn’t a perfect world.
The reality is many restaurant marketers struggle to find quality content to share on their social media channels.
That’s exactly why user-generated content is so important to the restaurant marketing industry.
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content is any content created and posted by unpaid contributors. In other words, it’s photos, videos, testimonials, tweets and any other original content uploaded by fans and customers.
Why Restaurants Marketers Shouldn’t Ignore User-Generated Content
Although marketing trends often change suddenly, user-generated content isn’t just another passing fad.
Successful brands have been leveraging fan photos and testimonials for years.
User-generated content campaigns are perfect for restaurants because they create loyal customers (also called “brand ambassadors”) and build trust among younger diners.
In fact, one study suggests up to 70% of consumers trust online reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy (Reevoo).
What could be more convincing than seeing photos of your best friend enjoying a delicious dinner at a new restaurant and reading his 5-star review of the place?
Restaurant marketers cannot ignore the influence user-generated content has on where patrons choose to dine out.
How to Leverage User-Generated Content in Your Restaurant Marketing Strategy
Restaurant owners and managers are always looking for ways to cut costs and save time, which is why user-generated content campaigns are a perfect fit for the industry.
The best thing about user-generated content is it’s free!
Perhaps the second best benefit is it takes far less time and creativity to share a great fan photo than it does to come up with a content idea, take the perfect photo and post it to your social media networks.
However, just because it can save a lot of time, don’t assume there’s no strategy involved in running a user-generated content campaign!
Every great marketing campaign requires careful planning, and user-generated content marketing is no exception!
The following tips will help ensure your restaurant succeeds at user-generated content marketing:
1. Run a contest
A contest is a perfect way to ask your fans for their best photos and videos of their dining experience. Set a start and end time for the contest (we recommend holding the competition over at least a 4-week period), decide which networks you want to use (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and promote your campaign so fans know it’s happening.
Once you describe the rules, time frame and incentives for winners, then you should advertise your contest in your restaurant, via email and of course, on social media.
2. Set goals for your campaign
Goal-setting is an important step in the planning process for any marketing campaign. If you don’t set simple, measurable goals, then you won’t be able to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign.
Decide what your specific objectives are for each campaign, and make sure you’re driving those actions every step of the way.
Simple goals for your first user-generated content campaign include increasing followers, growing post engagement, increasing sales or collecting more content for future marketing.
3. Create a hashtag for your campaign
A branded hashtag helps you track the content your guests post online, which is critical if you’re holding a user-generated content contest.
Hashtags also organize your content in a way that makes it easy to access later, for example, if you wanted to post some of your favorite user-generated photos later.
Remember, your branded hashtag can be as simple as your restaurant name. It should also be relatively short and easy to spell.
4. Give credit where it’s due
Even though your fans are happy to share their content with you, it doesn’t mean it’s ok to use that content without giving credit to the original user.
A simple “photo credit,” “PC,” or “credit” goes a long way towards building a positive relationship with your followers and everyone else who sees that content.
5. Be selective when re-posting
The content you choose to repost from other users is a direct reflection of your brand. If it isn’t up to par, don’t share it!!
It’s better to choose a few amazing photos and leave out dozens of poor quality shots than to repost every single picture your followers submit.
When it comes to user-generated content marketing, don’t settle for average.
All restaurant marketers should take advantage of user-generated content. Implementing user-generated content campaigns is easy, affordable and can result in plenty of quality content for future restaurant marketing efforts.