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Full Guide to Restaurant UGC (User-Generated Content)

Guide on Restaurant User Generated Content (UGC)

Table of Contents

What Exactly is User-Generated Content & Why It’s Important for Restaurants

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that users or customers produce and share online.

For a restaurant, this can include reviews, social media photos, blog posts, Reddit threads, or video content on YouTube and TikTok.

UGC is vital for restaurants because it works like word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most effective forms of marketing available.

Even if it comes from strangers, we humans tend to follow the crowd in nature, as it feels like the safer choice. That’s partly why restaurants with better reviews usually perform better.

User-generated content is the reason why sites like Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram have become so popular over the years.

People enjoy user-generated content because it offers an honest and human perspective that most corporations and brands lack.

Prime Examples of Restaurant UGC

Instagram Posts and Stories

Instagram posts and stories are the main sources of user-generated content for restaurants. In the past, most people used Instagram to share photos of their food.

Now, with stories, posts are more genuine and spontaneous, which highlights the human side of it.

Many users will mention and tag the restaurant they ate at, which makes it easy for the restaurant to reshare them!

Reviews on Google and Third-Party Sites

Reviews as UGC
Reviews are the bread-and-butter of UGC!

Reviews are the most influential user-generated content for restaurants. People who want to try a restaurant will often look for reviews before going or ordering.

The importance of reviews also stems from the fact that if people are searching for reviews, they are close to making a decision to visit a restaurant. The number of good reviews will sway them to go or not.

This makes reviews vital for not only online reputation management, but also a mark of quality from the local community.

Google is one avenue but there are others that you should keep on top of like TripAdvisor or Yelp.

For more information, feel free to check out our article on restaurant reputation management to learn more.

Reddit Threads and Facebook Groups

Facebook group as UGC
Facebook groups are still some of the most popular ways that customers share their UGC!

Reddit threads and Facebook groups are also important sources of UGC, as they often consist of local people.

For example, Reddit threads like r/HongKong or “Hong Kong Foodies” are platforms where people discuss and recommend places to eat and things to do for both locals and visitors.

People who seek advice from these groups will trust the suggestions from the contributors, who are usually locals who guide tourists to genuine and authentic places to eat and steer clear of tourist traps.

Some people even make itineraries for their trips based on suggestions from these groups. So don’t underestimate the power of UGC from locals!

TikTok and YouTube Videos

There's even a "Food Review" category on TikTok

TikTok and YouTube are platforms that enable individuals to impact people on a large scale. These influencers usually reach a global and local audience, which is helpful for restaurants in touristy areas.

Most of the YouTube videos often involve the YouTuber exploring a city and suggesting food places.

These videos are then often edited into shorter clips (less than 60 seconds) to be posted on TikTok, Instagram reels, and YouTube shorts.

Hence, collaborating with influencers can be a good way to use user-generated content at scale (which we will talk about later in this article).

The reason why these platforms are effective is because, unlike reviews, the content cannot be faked, as people can easily see the food, location, etc. Therefore, it really highlights the genuine human experience.

Blogs and Review Sites

Food Blogger Restaurant UGC
Food bloggers still have massive influence even in this day and age.

Blogs and review sites are also similar to YouTube and TikTok creators, but they use their review sites and blogs to influence people through search engine optimization (SEO).

The advantage of sites like these is the stage of the funnel they appear in. For example, people searching for “restaurants in Tokyo” are probably ready to find a place to eat, which means conversion is very high.

These review sites target keywords like these and have their own list of restaurants to suggest, and the best ones rank well and the suggestions are trusted as word-of-mouth by consumers.

If you want more conversion, rather than branding or impressions, you can work with bloggers to get more customers to your restaurant.

How to Encourage Restaurant User-Generated Content

Now that we’ve established the types of UGC for restaurants and why they’re crucial, here’s how you can encourage customers to create UGC!

Give Out Freebies or Vouchers for Reviews and Posts

Voucher Gift Card Sample
Click the image to go to our voucher management product page to find out more!

A simple way to get more reviews and posts is to run a freebie campaign. The concept is easy:

  • Offer vouchers or freebies for each post.
  • Choose the items that you offer wisely. They should be cheap but appealing. Things like onion rings, garlic bread, ice cream, or french fries are low-cost but popular.
  • If you use vouchers, you can be smart and set a minimum spend for them. This way, you can motivate your customers to return with their friends and families and spread the word about your restaurant.

You can also plan and buy more ingredients at lower prices. Vouchers also give you more opportunities to spread awareness, as they can be passed on to family and friends.

This strategy has a high return on investment (ROI) because if you do it well, each piece of UGC content will cost you almost nothing!

Have an “Instagrammable” Area in Your Restaurant

Courtesy of (https://klfoodie.com/22-instagrammable-cafes-2023/)

This is a one-time strategy that can work well, depending on your type of restaurant. Creating a beautiful area in your restaurant for people to take photos is a great way to generate UGC naturally.

Most people will also take pictures of your food along with the Instagram-worthy spot so that you can display your food and your unique features effectively.

When collaborating with influencers, they will probably feature the spot too, which can make your restaurant unforgettable.

As for what you should add, it depends on your restaurant type. If you have a Japanese restaurant, you could choose a Japanese dry garden with some bamboo to finish the look.

If you’re a retro American diner, you could get a vintage truck and turn it into a piece of decoration.

The main thing here is to be creative, as the options are limitless. If you need inspiration, just ask yourself: what would you personally post on your social media profiles that would be appealing? Keep that in mind.

Run Contests That Encourage User-Generated Content

Another good idea is to run contests on social media. A simple way to do this is to have a food photography contest that asks people to take photos and post them on their Instagram.

Make sure they mention your Instagram handle and add a location if possible. You can use the Instagram story feature as it requires less effort and lasts for 24 hours.

You can repost their stories on your story – this is great because you don’t have to do much and you can connect with your followers on a human level, which can increase engagement and loyalty.

To take it a step further, you can also opt to do something out of the box, like creating your own Instagram filter!

AR technology has become so advanced that it’s not too difficult for you to have your own.

Our sister company, PRIZM Group was able to create Instagram filters for clients and even celebrities in Hong Kong!

We’ve taken that expertise and can scale to a point where we’re able to provide similar services and features at a more affordable price.

Sounds interesting? Click the button below and contact us!

Work With Influencers

Types of Food Influencers for Restaurants
There are many types of influencers!

We mentioned influencer marketing before, right? Working with influencers can create a huge snowball effect on your UGC marketing campaigns!

Here’s how it works, a YouTube video or TikTok short-form video can go viral if done well, and people will often ‘react’ to the original video.

For example, an influencer posts a review on your restaurant on TikTok. Depending on the outcome, people might challenge their opinions and try it out for themselves.

They’ll usually record the process and post their reactions to your restaurant on TikTok or YouTube, creating a second wave of exposure.

Depending on how popular the original video becomes, you can get dozens or even hundreds of reactions from micro-influencers or regular customers!

If you need more information about working with influencers, check out our complete guide on working with food influencers as a restaurant.

Practical Ways to Repurpose UGC for Your Restaurant’s Marketing Campaign

Now that we’ve established the ins and outs of user-generated content for your restaurant. Let’s see how you can repurpose and take the correct steps to turn UGC into an actionable marketing campaign.

Repost and Share Stories & Reels on Instagram

Reposting Instagram Stories for Restaurant UGC
Reposting stories can make your brand feel more engaging to users!

UGC can help you connect with your audience on a human level by reposting and sharing your customer’s stories on Instagram.

You can only repost their stories if they tag you, so ask them to tag you in any campaigns you run!

Customers will feel valued if you acknowledge their engagement, which is a powerful way to build loyalty for any restaurant through content.

Create “Testimonial” Highlights on Instagram

Posting Regularly on Social Media for Restaurant Reputation Management
Being active on social media helps in bolstering your online reputation!

You can also add some of the interesting stories to your profile as a highlight.

This is awesome because users who visit your profile will see a lot of social proof that your restaurant is great and worth a try. You can make a story a highlight after you repost it.

Unlike stories, which vanish after 24 hours, highlights can stay forever, unless you delete them – which makes for awesome content.

Having a testimonial highlight not only builds trust but also shows that you care about the community, not just the money.

React to TikToks or Reels of People Trying Your Restaurant

You can also join the conversation when people react to the influencers’ reels and add your flair to it.

If the reviews are bad, you can apologize and invite them to give you another chance.

If the reviews are good, you can express your gratitude and share your secrets, like using the finest ingredients or following a family recipe.

You can also spice it up with some humor to increase engagement on these platforms.

Remember how Wendy’s Twitter account became famous for its witty, but sarcastic comments?

The person running Wendy’s back in the day was really something else!

You can do something like that but with your style and branding. You can also do this while reposting Instagram stories!

Use Reviews on Menu, Posters, and Other Marketing Material

Reviews in your marketing material like posters and flyers can also help you attract more customers. You can include reviews as text, but we suggest taking a screenshot to prove that they’re real.

Reviews or other user-generated content on your restaurant’s menu can also boost your sales.

By strategically adding good reviews to high-margin items, you can make people more likely to order them!

You can also reuse reviews to create monthly Facebook and Instagram posts, like “review of the month” content, which is an easy way to enrich your content strategy.

You can do this by using a template and changing the reviews every month to utilize UGC!

Include UGC in Your Website/Landing Page/Email Marketing

There’s a reason why good-converting landing pages have some sort of user testimonial to increase conversion.

For a restaurant, it’s great to include user-generated content on your website, landing page, and email marketing.

Some companies even have it at the very top of their homepage to boost the trust signal!

You don’t have to cover the whole page with it but having 3 to 4 really good ones can help in conversion.

It could be the difference between an order booked on your delivery platform, or even a link click to book a reservation.

That’s why companies spend a lot to optimize their landing page to the max even a 0.1% difference can mean dozens of bookings.

That’s why KlikNRoll, our online booking system, stands out. Instead of using a generic app like everyone else, you can improve conversions and make your page unique with our customizability.

You can customize every aspect of your booking system, down to the smallest detail.

Not sure how to improve your conversion rate? Just let us handle it and we’ll use our experience from working with dozens of clients to create the ideal booking page for you.

If you’re curious, feel free to visit our product page to learn more about the booking system!

The Bottom Line

As you can see, user-generated content (UGC) plays a huge role in your overall marketing strategy.

Oftentimes, they can be as powerful as word-of-mouth marketing, because, as we’ve mentioned before, they provide social proof and a stamp of quality from an unbiased perspective.

To learn more about interesting topics like these, why not check out our other articles like how to improve your restaurant’s first impressions, or maybe free ways to increase restaurant sales without advertising.

Last Updated by February 23, 2024
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