One of the cheapest and easiest ways to put your restaurant on the map and acquire new customers is to rely on user-generated content. Especially if you’re a beginner restauranteur, you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to involve your customers and followers in the process of promoting your business. Below, we explain what user-generated content is, what you can gain by using it, and how to use it effectively.
What Is User-Generated Content?
As the name suggests, user-generated content is content that users create on online platforms like review websites or social media. It includes testimonials, reviews, images or blog posts that feature a specific brand, and it’s usually available to the public. The best part? These users post about your business voluntarily, so you don’t have to pay a dime.
Benefits of User-Generated Content for Restaurant Websites
1. You Get More Engagement and Credibility
Social media posts that rely on user-generated content are 2.4 times more likely to be viewed as authentic by consumers rather than content created by the brand. Moreover, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.
And it makes sense. Would you be more inclined to believe a company advertising itself or a customer just like you praising the services of a brand they love? Of course you are going to speak highly of your restaurant, but when someone else does it, it adds to your social proof.
2. You Draw People in with Heartfelt Stories
Admit it, how many times were you stopped in your tracks while browsing social media by a brand story or a great photo of a delicious looking meal? We feed on seeing what other people are doing, experiencing, eating, etc.
When potential customers see a story about an incredible experience someone had at your restaurant, they will remember it and most likely pay you a visit hoping for the same kind of experience. This brings us to our next point.
3. You Build a Community around Your Restaurant
This type of word-of-mouth marketing is remarkable at building an engaged community. Positive experiences beget more positive experiences, especially in the online world, where news travels incredibly fast. People tend to bond over shared positive experiences online, and you should capitalize on this by facilitating their communication.
4. You Spend Less on Marketing
As we mentioned before, this type of marketing can be entirely free if you don’t want to invest actual money in UGC. Once people start sharing stories about your restaurant, posting pictures, and leaving reviews, it creates an inexhaustible library of content you can repurpose for your marketing efforts.
How to Grow and Promote Your Restaurant Using User-Generated Content
1. Keep an Eye on Your Customers’ Instagram Stories
Every time a customer tags your restaurant in their Instagram story, they give you a chance to share it with your followers as well. Just add the story to your story for all your fans, as well as people who visit your profile randomly, to see.
Since Instagram stories go poof after 24 hours, make sure they’ll stay on your profile by adding them to highlights. You can name the highlight “What Customers Say” so people know what to expect when tapping on it.
2. Spruce up Your Menu with Quotes from Testimonials
Regardless of where you got a stellar review (social media, Google, Yelp, etc.), you can take the best parts of it and add them to your menu, especially if the person is praising a particular dish. This will convince other customers to try it, knowing people did and loved it.
However, when it comes to using customer quotes for marketing, remember you need to ask for their permission first. You want to be 100% sure they’re on board with you sharing their thoughts as part of your marketing strategy.
3. Embed UGC on Your Restaurant Website
You already know people trust UGC more than anything you could say to market your restaurant. Use that to your advantage on your restaurant website by embedding a couple of reviews and social media posts about your business right on the homepage for people to see.
4. Don’t Forget about Good Old Fashioned Paper Marketing
The same reviews and praise work on flyers, posters, and cards as well. The best way to market your restaurant is to let the reviews speak for themselves. You don’t want to overcrowd your paper marketing materials with a lot of reviews, so choose the best one and use key phrases from it to make your materials stand out.
As always, remember to ask for your customers’ permission before using their review, and explain exactly what you’re going to use it for.
5. Host a Contest to Get More UGC
One of the best ways to get a ton of user-generated content is to host a contest in which people have to chime in for a chance to win either a free meal at your restaurant or something like a goodies basket.
For instance, you can ask every participant to share a photo of them eating at your restaurant using a personalized hashtag for a chance to get a free meal for two. Don’t forget to ask them to tag your restaurant in the post as well. This way, every time someone looks at your tagged images, they’ll see a plethora of photos of customers having a great time at your restaurant.
6. Offer Freebies in Exchange for Content
People love getting free stuff. Promise them a free drink or a complimentary dessert if they follow you on Twitter, tweet about your restaurant, and tag one friend in the post. You won’t break the bank with these free incentives, and you’ll get a lot of exposure on social media in exchange.
User-generated content is one of the lowest-risk types of marketing you could use as a restaurant owner. It’s free, easy, and extremely effective. Leverage all social media platforms and review websites to take advantage of every opportunity UGC has to offer.
Guest author bio: Laura-Andreea Voicu is a content writer and marketing specialist at GloriaFood, a company offering a multitude of solutions to restauranteurs looking for more online exposure, including a Restaurant Website Builder.