Social Media Series: Here’s everything you need to know about stimulating user generated content



One of the biggest challenges in your online social media strategy is to get your guests to start contributing online. This step in your DIY social media masterplan, is the step that primarily distinguishes social media from old-world media like Broadcast and Print. In this article we will discuss how we can aggregate content across platforms, ideas for contests, in-restaurant communications, designing hashtags, and even at the use of physical spaces to help your audience generate content for you.

1. Choose sensible handles
Handles is the name of your business’s online account, that reflects the name of our business. For example @juhu.bar may be the handle for the imaginary watering hole Juhu Bar. So the first order of business is to make sure your handles are standardised across platforms, to save post space. Let not your Twitter handle say @bangalorebites while your Instagram handle say @blrbitesr. This would mean that your uploaders would have to tag you twice which in itself becomes a barrier to upload. Also let the tag be short and crisp enough to be memorable and easily typable, without autocorrect being too much of an interference. If you can help it, try to make sure that you keep in mind availability or URLs and handles when naming your business in the first place. Anything more than 15 characters, unless it is a simple sentence like @ilovepizzasomuch, is definitely too long.

2. Communicate your tags, hashtags and online addresses
Once your online labels are created, make sure that people know your online handles, and that they can check in. Ensure your chosen hashtags and handles are easy to find, either in the menu, or on tent cards, printed on the walls or on waiter t-shirts. Whatever element you choose, just make sure that this is communicated in the first place.

3. Give your customer a reason to upload
Some businesses don’t need any more reason than the just service that they provide. People are excited to be there and just telling people that they are there is reason enough to upload photographs, videos or tags. However, most businesses do not enjoy this, whether they admit it to themselves or not. So think about how your business can give you customers a reasons to upload content. Some examples to kick off the thinking would be: A vineyard in California built themselves a load of online presence by offering 35% off on their wine tasting sessions for every check in. A music school in Bangalore offers Rs 5000 off on their courses for people that share videos of their alumni performing. A famous Greek restaurant in Goa ensures that their live performances on weekends are always viral worthy, just through diligent curation.

4. Leveraging physical spaces
Invest in spaces to let people look and feel good about themselves in and you are less likely to need to bribe them. A well-lit bathroom mirror can do wonders for otherwise dull cheekbones. This small step can amplify a nightclub’s online presence, where all the guests are dressed up and are looking for that opportunity to record that moment and show off. Photobooths are cheap easy to put together with some props, costumes and fun lighting. Wall murals can be designed to encourage people to pose with it. Interactive installations are almost a sure shot chance at some free publicity.

5. Aggregate and reward existing uploaders
Give away exciting freebies to some of the people that have taken the initiative to upload and praise you online. Put some of these online evangelists on a pedestal and appreciate them for appreciating you hardwork. It’s important to not let this slide. If there is too much praise, then pick one favourite guest a week, or month.

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