Marketing Strategies for Restaurants – Weighing the Pros and Cons of User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC), which is anything that a customer shares about a brand on social media, seems to be a marketing golden ticket for restaurants. It speaks to the public’s demand for authenticity and is budget friendly. We have seen restaurants use tactics like aggressive review requests, flashy in-restaurant photo ops, and even online sweepstakes to drive more diners to post about, tag, and review restaurants. However, before chasing after this highly sought-after marketing content, the pros and cons must be weighed to avoid any severe marketing missteps.


Low Financial Cost

Online marketing has been dominated by cost-per-click advertising campaigns. User Generated Content is a welcome respite from these technical and often costly social media ads. Creating hashtags and making it easy for diners to leave reviews is simple and costs nothing to restaurants. Other strategies, like giveaways or using local influencers, might cost only a comped meal. No matter what a restaurant’s budget is, there is no shortage of tactics available for UGC.

Creates an Authentic Voice

It’s no secret that people trust people more than they trust businesses. Restaurants can form strong connections with diners by authentically engaging with user’s content, which then encourages more UGC. By featuring UGC on websites, social media accounts, and advertising content, restaurants can create an authentic voice that better connects to their market.

Broadens Market Reach

When a restaurant shares marketing content on its social media page, it only reaches existing followers and customers. However, when a diner shares their experience online, that content reaches the individual’s network of followers that might have otherwise never heard of the restaurant. A restaurant’s online visibility grows exponentially when a constant flow of users does this.


Strategies are Time Consuming to Implement

Unfortunately, most diners are not naturally motivated to share their experiences. Restaurants must actively encourage customers to come out of the woodwork. Some strategies, like email or text prompts for reviews, can be automated. Others, like creating a trendy selfie hot spot, need more creativity up front.

Even then, it may take incentives like sweepstakes to encourage users to consistently mention the restaurant. To top it all off, restaurants must actively engage with UGC to maintain that flow, which can be tedious for restaurant managers also trying to run daily operations.

Difficult to Monitor and Measure<

Even when a restaurant gains a steady flow of UGC, restaurant owners will want to measure the results of their efforts. Since time and effort are the biggest investment in most UGC strategies, it can be difficult to calculate the return on investment. Tracking the content is even more challenging, especially for small restaurants without a marketing team. This is especially tricky with third-party apps like Yelp or Grubhub that may have murky content moderation strategies.

User Generated Content Could Potentially Damage Restaurant’s Image

Seeking out User Generated Content makes restaurants vulnerable to the unpredictability of the public. Restaurants are susceptible to having every mistake aired online, and potentially going viral. Also, quality control is impossible, as even the best-plated meal can look completely unappetizing due to a diner’s poor photography. Some users may simply take an opportunity to post something shocking or offensive, which if not moderated immediately, can damage the restaurant’s brand.

It all starts with Hiring Strategic Restaurant Leaders

Building an effective marketing strategy requires a skilled restaurant marketing professional. Horizon Hospitality’s Restaurant Recruiters have an extensive database of hospitality marketing, sales, and social media professionals. Contact us today to see how they can leverage cutting-edge recruitment techniques to attract these candidates to your restaurant.



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