It not only keeps your brand fresh and authentic, it helps attract guests.

Word of mouth still reigns supreme in the realm of marketing. After all, you’re more likely to trust the opinion of someone you know than an advertisement tagline. When it comes to restaurants and food, the same idea is true. People take positive restaurant reviews from friends and family as personal invitations.

Fortunately for restaurateurs, these positive reviews often come in the form of user-generated content. A photo or video here and a glowing review there can all add up to a positive online reputation. That user-generated content can also help form an influential and affordable marketing campaign.

Ways User-Generated Content Helps Your Restaurant

A marketing strategy that includes plenty of user-generated content isn’t only fresh and authentic, but it also helps your brand.

Builds Community

People today mostly connect and interact with brands online. Ergo, restaurants need to have an engaging online presence. Prospective guests will feel attracted to space where current restaurant-goers are free to share their positive experiences. Not to mention that this community will allow existing guests to bond over experiences in your restaurant.

Customers will be able to share in big moments for the restaurant such as celebrations and milestones. If customers love your restaurant enough to want to follow its every move, that speaks volumes about their experience. This admiration will not go unnoticed.

Makes Your Brand Human

Marketing often has the goal of showing the best or most “marketable” parts of a business. There are photos of the delicious dishes and the trendy dining area, but what about the rest? Showing the more human side of your restaurant is essential, too. The things that make your business different are also beneficial for your marketing. Often, those things can be your staff.

Customer reviews that highlight friendly and helpful wait staff can have a considerable effect on your brand’s persona. Many restaurants of today understand that and have begun to spotlight or even interview their sparking personnel online. User-generated content that addresses the same topic can help provide further detail and evidence of your achievements.

Shrinks Your Marketing Expenses

One of the most immediately noticeable advantages of user-generated content is how much money it saves you. When happy customers are keen to share their photos, videos, and opinions, you will have plenty of content for promotion. Sharing your customers’ content will create a marketing strategy that is both authentic and affordable.

While you may not want to forgo marketing altogether, you can significantly reduce the amount you need to do. Instead of continually organizing photoshoots and promotions, you can focus on running and growing your restaurant. Talk about a tasty (and cheap) alternative!

Ways to Incorporated User-Generated Content into Your Marketing Strategy

Fortunately for restauranteurs the nature of the restaurant business today lends itself well to user-generated content. Here are some ways in which you can utilize user-generated content to market your restaurant:

Long Live the Repost

Geotagging and mentioning brands on social media make it easier than ever to find content to repost. A push notification will let you know when a customer has shared something about a recent experience at your restaurant. While you may not want to repost every single thing, taking the time to read through the content will help you decide. Regularly reposting user-generated content will also help keep your social media presence alive. It can provide feedback on what your restaurant is doing well, too.

Work That Hashtag

The power of the hashtag isn’t limited to its ubiquity or catchiness; it’s also the fact that it helps grow your online following. Creating a marketing campaign with a hashtag is a great way to get customers excited about your restaurant. Hashtags help advertise new products, promote content, and cultivate interaction with the brand. Furthermore, they can expose prospective guests to your community. A successful marketing campaign, coupled with an effective hashtag, can get your restaurant trending in no time.

Share Reviews

With the popularity of sites like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, restaurants are highly aware of their online reviews. Taking the time to respond to and share good reviews is an excellent marketing strategy. Moreover, ensuring that your profile on each of those sites is up-to-date is helps to further promote your restaurant. Unfortunately, sometimes negative reviews may sprout up. It’s crucial that you promptly respond to all of the feedback you receive and offer a solution, your credibility depends on it.

Include A Photo Gallery

Humans are visual creatures; we crave visceral experiences. Great chefs know that presentation is just as important as taste. Your restaurant’s marketing strategy should also be a feast for the eyes! Compiling several photos of your mouth-watering dishes into an online gallery is a great way to impress prospective guests. With user-generated content, you can collect great pictures of your restaurant without even using a camera, just ask their permission!

Ways to Inspire Users to Send in Content

The uses and benefits of user-generated content are apparent, but how do you get customers to deliver it? Here are some sure-fire tips on inspiring users to create content for your restaurant.

Provide Some Motivation

Let’s face it, people today love to take pictures of food, especially if they’re ‘foodies.’ Therefore, motivating people to take photos of their food can be as easy as creating the perfect environment. Carefully decorating your restaurant to be more “Instagrammable” will spur clients to take more photos. Also, paying attention to the presentation of dishes will ensure that they are more photogenic for clients. If you provide people with visually enticing food, they’ll be compelled to photograph it.

Use Calls to Action

Sometimes customers need a little nudge in the right direction. A simple call to action can be effective when it comes to getting customers moving and interacting with your restaurant.

Try CTAs like:

As long as you keep it short and to the point, people will know exactly what’s expected of them. Calls to action are a straightforward but super effective way to mobilize your following and promote your restaurant.

Hand Out Freebies

Giving away freebies is a tried and true advertising trick that dates very far back. These days, an effective way to do this is with online contests and giveaways. Inspire customers to send in photos or reviews by telling them they’ll be entered into a competition to win a prize from your restaurant. You’d be surprised by just how many people will participate with the promise of a tasty freebie. After you’ve announced your winner, you’ll still have an excellent reserve of user-generated content to promote your restaurant.

Pro tip—never forget to edit your user-generated content. There are now multiple tools and services like Top Writers Review and Hemingway that will allow you to quickly address any minor and major grammatical and stylistic issues in the content that your followers send in.

Wrapping Up

User-generated content can be a gold mine for people looking to promote and grow their brand. Of course, it’s crucial to always revise the content and share only the best of the best. Your restaurant’s marketing strategy should stick to using the best photos and well-written reviews. Nevertheless, regularly reposting customer photos and reviews will have a significant impact on your online following.

Positive feedback in the form of user-generated content can also boost your restaurants’ credibility. Additionally, it helps attract new customers and helps spread word of mouth. People who are unfamiliar with your restaurant will be more likely to try it out if they see content from happy customers.

Perhaps one of the best things about using user-generated content to promote your brand is the fact that it is free! Skimping on promotion dollars here and there can be just fine, as long as you don’t cut corners in the kitchen. Deliver on the promise of delicious food and user-generated content will keep flooding in.

Expert Takes, Feature, Marketing & Promotions