November 3, 2016

How Restaurants Can Get Started with User Generated Content – Part 2

Which Campaigns to Use as Inspiration

Consumers tend to place more trust in content created by friends and other consumers than they do in content created by professionals.  This is the situation that led to the rise of USG; User Generated Content.

man typing on a keyboard

But, as we established in Part 1 of this article, this is certainly not a bad thing, especially as far as a digital restaurant is concerned.

Restaurants have a unique opportunity to harness User Generated Content and use it as a means of both simplifying the content creation process and publishing content that their customers, and prospective customers, truly believe.

This is possible through the creation of social media elements which inspire engagement (such as hashtags and competitions), the addition of customer recommendations to online menus or ordering apps, as well as the encouragement of user-written reviews.

But, if you’re still slightly sceptical about the potential of UGC for marketing, just take a look at some of these successful campaigns and let the inspiration flow.

Brands That Really Nailed UGC and Reaped the Rewards

1. Starbucks – White Cup Contest

In 2014 Starbucks launched a competition that spanned the US and Canada, and simply called for coffee fans to design a new Starbucks cup.  The premise seemed tantalisingly simple, but in reality that was a very clever competition.branded cup

Starbucks customers had to buy a cup of coffee, which came in an all-white cup emblazoned only with Starbucks’ signature siren.  They then had to decorate the cup in whichever style took their fancy and finally take a photo of the cup, which was to be posted via social media under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

What made this campaign so clever was the fact that it created a great deal of media and crossed multiple channels, all without taking customers through a rigorous submission process.

For starters, customers had to purchase a cup of coffee just to enter the competition, which certainly didn’t hurt sales.  But then the competition had them creating content in both online and offline environments.  They doodled on their cups in the physical world, then created online visual content by photographing and posting them, and finally created written content that accompanied their hashtags.

The three weeks of the competition saw Starbucks receive almost 4000 entries – which meant 4000 individual pieces of User Generated Content – and the company was able to show consumers how much it cares about their ideas.

2. Walkers – Do Us a Flavour

Following the success of its 2008 competition asking the public to decide on a new flavour, Walkers once again turned to the public for its opinion in 2014.  Offering a staggering grand prize of a £1 million, the public had to suggest new flavour options over the competition’s year-long duration.

variation of crisp bags

Once the final six had been chosen, the winner was left to the public to decide.  Walkers sparked conversations on social media by creating vending machines that responded to social posts.  The ‘Tweet to Eat’ vending machines offered the public a chance to taste the final 6 flavours, and all they had to do was post about Walkers.

The campaign upped Walkers’ advertising impact from 17% to 27%, meaning that it was more memorable to consumers than past advertisements had been.  It also increased the brand’s word of mouth exposure, bringing the figure up to 10% from 6%.

3. Coca-Cola – Share a Coke

cans of coke with names on it

Coco-Cola didn’t need to offer a large prize in order to generate a great deal of UGC.  In fact, it didn’t even need to run a competition at all.  All the drinks giant had to do in order to increase the amount of content generated by online users was start producing drinks with people’s names printed on the cans and bottles.

The campaign began in Australia but, thanks to a very positive reception, it soon spread to the US, the UK, and many other countries across the globe.  Soon there was a great deal of content being generated, as the brand’s customers were taking the ‘Share a Coke’ theme to social media, and customers were getting very creative with their posts.

Despite not offering a prize like Starbucks and Walkers, Coca-Cola was able to put a stop to its declining revenue and boost its sales by 2%. And, you don’t need us to tell you what 2% amounts to for a brand like Coke!

4. Applebee’s – Fantographer

applebee screenshot

Applebee’s is another example of a US food company, this time a family restaurant, that managed to generate a great deal of User Generated Content without having to offer a prize.  The good feeling that comes with posting a photo of a delicious meal is all that was on offer, but customers of the restaurant chain jumped on board wholeheartedly.

Applebee’s created a hashtag called #Fantographer and encouraged their customers to post their meals to social pages.  Though there was brief concern that the amateur photography might not show the restaurant’s meals in the best light, quite literally, the company decided that this UGC campaign was the best way to go.

The executive director of marketing communications, Shannon Scott, reaffirmed the current belief that consumers prefer content generated by their peers by mentioning that people “prefer the stuff they create versus the stuff we create.”

UGC Lets Customers Tell Their Own Stories

Brand storytelling is huge in the digital marketing world, but customers don’t want to be spoon-fed content any more.  Recent digital trends have empowered consumers and been responsible for a swing, of sorts.

taking picture with a phone
Good content marketing now means that brands don’t dictate the direction of a campaign.  Instead, they gently guide the campaign while letting consumers decide on, and create, the content they want to see.

This strategy worked to the advantages of the brands we detailed in this piece.  So, if you want to run a User Generated Content campaign for your restaurant or food brand, the above are some great examples of well-managed campaigns to act as inspiration.