User-generated content (UGC) is any kind of online content that’s produced by your customers. Pictures of people having fun in your venue, snaps of wonderfully presented dishes, and even quick videos of someone being showered with attention on their birthday—all great examples of UGC. It’s an incredibly effective and inexpensive way to promote your brand.
In a recent study by TouchBistro, 91% of restaurant-goers said that they’ve chosen a restaurant they’d never been to before because of a friend’s recommendation. 80% of them said they did so because of a promotion or discount, 68% said it was because of positive online reviews, and 41% attributed it to positive feedback on social media.
UGC has the potential to combine all of these factors. It’s a display of positive online reviews and feedback on social media, a recommendation from real people, and when considered strategically, you can attract more of it with promotions/discounts.
In this article, we’ll break down all these advantages and more in order to more fully understand the importance and benefits of user-generated content.
Restaurant Recommendations and Positive Online Feedback:
People tend to trust word of mouth more than paid advertisements. This concept isn’t anything new in the world of marketing but achieving it on a large scale was much harder before social media became so ingrained in our daily lives.
Nowadays, when someone posts a pic of their date night in a restaurant, that restaurant can repost/retweet the picture for all their followers to see. If the post gains enough traction, it’s likely that people who don’t follow that restaurant will see it too. Suddenly, they’ve gotten themselves a free ad. Not just any ad, either, but one that’s perceived as more trustworthy because it’s coming from customers themselves, not just the business.
Engaging with brands online has become more commonplace for many people. Customers can tweet at brands, leave reviews on their pages, and directly message them instantly. In return, brands are building communities of followers, which tends to drive brand loyalty in consumers as they have fun, share, and discuss the business in different ways.
It’s about being human, being real. People are less trusting these days of “faceless” businesses but bringing UGC into your marketing efforts shows that there are actual people enjoying what you offer—not some stock-photo models or paid actors. Authenticity reigns supreme in online marketing.
How do you get customers to produce UGC?
The benefits are pretty clear, but how does a restaurant brand actually get people to post about them? Well, like every marketing effort, it needs to be handled with strategic effort. Here are a few less obvious points to consider when attempting to gain more UGC for your brand.
- In-house Promotions: Yes, you should definitely be engaging with guests online as much as possible. And yes, offering a discount or freebie in the comment section of your posts will gain some great attention—but there are more places to advertise than online.
Use your TV screens for digital signage to promote brand awareness in the restaurant space while people are there. Sometimes people want to take a selfie or a food pic, but just don’t think to do it or maybe get embarrassed to. Encouraging it inside your atmosphere can boost the amount of UGC you see by quite a lot.
Offering a discount, free desert, etc. for their efforts of tagging you in their social media is also an easy win when displayed on your TVs.
- Think Outside the Table: Maybe the first, and possibly still the most popular, form of UGC is food pics. Instagram is flooded with literally millions of pictures of meals and drinks from restaurants and bars—it’s almost become a cliché. So, while the ever-fashionable food pics are always going to be around, try asking people for their actual faces in the frame. Not everyone will want to put pics of themselves online, but those who do can show a real human side to the guest experience you’ve crafted in your venue. In fact, even pictures of the venue itself can be just as interesting/appealing as the food you serve.
- Give Them Reasons to Share: When people go out with friends/families/dates these days, they’re looking for more than just food and drink, they crave full-on experiences. Modernizing your venue and giving them a real ‘wow’ factor from the moment they walk in is great incentive to start snapping some pics.
Special events and theme nights are also great ways to get people talking about your restaurant. Think up a clever hashtag related to your brand and event and display it around your venue to get people sharing their content in one online space that’s easy and fun to find.
- Get the Staff Involved: Sharing pictures or quick, funny videos of staff having a blast at work is a great way to humanize your brand. It shows you culture and the fun that’s spread throughout your business. People love a little “behind-the-scenes” look into how their favorite restaurants operate!
Of course, there are many more ways to attract UGC to your business. The more creatively you can approach the effort, the more people will take notice and participate.
Staying modern and relevant is just one of the ways Control Play helps our subscribers. Revamping your interiors with innovative video experiences could be the missing ingredient to give your guests that necessary wow-factor that gets you noticed even more.
For more industry insights and tips for the food service industry, subscribe to the Control Play blog today: