January 23, 2014

Ten Ways Restaurants and Bars Can Gather Content from Their Customers

People are social and love to have their photos selected for inclusion in promotions, commercials, Facebook pages and other on-line forums.

Restaurants, which keep management and staff busy with ordering, inventory, cooking and managing staff and guests, have little time to devote to content marketing, writing fresh content or optimizing websites for SEO purposes.

Fortunately, restaurant owners and managers can turn to their customers for content – an easy way to increase on-line marketing efforts.

Ten Content-generating Ideas for the Progressive Restauranteur

The following 10 ideas will generate astonishing marketing benefits with little or no cost by tapping the potential of customer participation.

1. Create a Signature Event

The signature restaurant event could generate extraordinary business and media attention. Customers willingly weigh-in with their opinions about events such as holiday celebrations, weekly tapas bars, specialty ethnic cuisine nights, cooking classes or anniversary events with historic pricing for certain menu items. Bars could hold a drink-naming contest once a week and create excitement that would draw convivial crowds. Customers are both willing and happy to share their thoughts, comments, photos and videos to generate a promotional bonanza. For example, Lonestar uses Independence Day to generate publicity for the restaurant and its signature ribs during the height of barbecue season.

 2. Offer Nutritional Counselling and Involve Community Health Organizations

The trend for healthier eating has become noted by restaurants all over the world, and restaurants can generate extraordinary publicity by offering nutritional counselling. The marketing value of such an initiative could be doubled by partnering with a local community health organization, fitness facility or nutritional consultant. Restaurants could capitalize on the event by agreeing to serve a low-fat lunch or dinner. Diners could offer their thoughts and opinions to generate popular and newsworthy content.

3. Hold a Photo Contest

Photo contests offer rich opportunities for relating to a restaurant’s demographic profile, generating conversations about local history, showing how silly people can be when they overindulge and building loyalty through interactive customer submissions of creative and compelling photos. Tiger Tiger is a UK based night spot running a photo contest with a trip for Ibiza up for grabs. Shuttlerock provides an excellent white paper which provides all the information on how to set up a successful photo contest.

4. Create a Social Blog, Email Campaign or Newsletter

Restaurants can generate content by getting their customers to sign up for emails or newsletters, or servers or hosts could recommend that each customer check out the restaurant’s social blog. Active customers who know the restaurant’s food and history can supply amusing anecdotes, photos, opinions and other comments that will generate strong customer-oriented content that will drive SEO efforts into uncharted territories.

5. Hold a Wine, Cake, Beer or Other Food Tasting

Managers can choose from a variety of crowd marketing strategies to generate social media buzz, customer loyalty and attention from conservative media. Consider hosting a barbecue tasting, wine workshop, hybrid and specialty beer tasting or other crowd-pleasing event. Ask customers to share their photos of the event for a restaurant newsletter, lobby display or social media post. This kind of publicity can generate tremendous traffic to websites.

6. Hold a Cooking Photo Contest

People have always insisted that diners eat with their eyes, so restaurants could hold regular or one-time photo competitions where foods are judged strictly by their appearance. Contestants cook their favorite dishes and take pictures of their finished presentations. Dish online magazine gives viewers two chances to win each month in its food-photo contest, and viewers vote for their favorite photo to determine the winner. Restaurants could agree to serve the winning dish and generate big crowds for the event.

7. Interact with Customers Through Social Media

Social media sites are big on sharing all types of links, reviews, messages and opinions. Get involved with the most popular forums among the bar or restaurant’s demographic mix of customers and find out how much easier it can be to generate ideas for content marketing. For example, Juan in a Million apparently hopes to display a million photos of owner Juan with customers at Bay Restaurant. Look at the Bay Restaurant’s Facebook slide-show, and think about the possible ways to leverage photos and crowd marketing to generate social media content.

8. Start a Customer Dialogue on Current Restaurant Trends

Customer wisdom can help savvy restaurateurs distinguish between fleeting fads and genuine trends. Shuttlerock, a leading crowd marketing consultant, suggests that a photo competition can provide enormous benefits for identifying what types of interests restaurant customers have. Managers can study the submissions and their customers’ responses and comments to get valuable marketing intelligence that costs nothing, focuses on the restaurant’s demographic customer profile and makes customers happy to participate.

9. Use Customer Suggestions to Generate Rich, Relevant Content

User-generated content can satisfy many marketing strategies including generating fresh content for blogs, newsletters, websites, podcasts, how-to cooking videos, reviews and question-answer forums. A suggestion box can provide ideas to start stimulating dialogues.

 10. Leverage Tourists by Promoting Historical Photos

Ask customers to contribute their historic photos of the city and publish them in a newsletter, e-book, website forum or through traditional media outlets. By combining modern and classic techniques, marketers can generate crowd marketing content that creates an enormous customer draw for restaurants, websites, venerable city farmers’ markets and central business areas.

Both fast food restaurants and upscale eateries increasingly turn to social media promotions. Two representative examples of these cuisines include Subway and the Capital Grille, and both organizations create active conversations and generate fresh content through inspired posting of photographs, videos and customer comments.

Customers actively upload videos to Subway’s Facebook page, and viewers post stimulating comments. For example, Debbie posted her travel video that linked healthy dining while traveling with eating at Subway. Comments on Subway’s Facebook page: “Debbie stopped by for lunch during her trip abroad and discussed her travel essentials, healthier food options on the road, among other fun topics. What are your healthy must-haves while on a trip?”

The Capital Grille proves that higher-end restaurants have the same positive response to social sharing. The restaurant brings visitors into personal relationships with the restaurant, chef and wine selection through photos, events, videos and news. Check out these mouth-watering offerings at the Capital Grille Facebook Page.

Trends can prove difficult to research, but crowd marketing allows restaurants not only to identify bold trends that are about to impact the industry but also to get targeted intelligence without spending money while making customers happier and more loyal. Huck Finn made his friends happy to paint a fence, and restaurants can persuade their customers to supply photos, videos, and fresh content without straining the budget or taking much administrative time.

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