NutriSystem zeroes in on bloggers

When diet brand NutriSystem launched in Canada last December, it opted to use social media to augment PR tactics and ads adapted from its global HQ in Horsham, PA.

When diet brand NutriSystem launched in Canada last December, it opted to use social media to augment PR tactics and ads adapted from its global HQ in Horsham, PA.

Mississauga, Ont.-based NutriSystem Canada enlisted Toronto Web 2.0 boutique Com.motion (a unit of PR firm Veritas Communications) to give cyber social butterflies all the info and tools they need to share their ‘find’ with others.

Com.motion invited bloggers to test-drive NutriSystem and document their experience in their blogs.

‘Although a blogger may not have the audience a traditional journalist has, they’re an important part of the mix. When people type NutriSystem into Google [they often find blog entries first],’ explains Keith McArthur, Com.motion principal and senior director, media innovation at Veritas, who says they opted to set up a separate site for the release so bloggers have everything they need, without having to navigate through the homepage.

NutriSystem.comestocanada.ca includes a fact sheet, ‘share’ buttons to post on Facebook and del.icio.us and downloadable photos and videos.

At press time, blogs like Bargainista and I like to cook had begun writing about their NutriSystem tests.

We asked two social media experts, Janice Diner, GM/CD of Toronto-based Ripple Social Media (launched by Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG), and Ian Barnett, VP business development at Toronto-based agency Spider Marketing Solutions, to weigh in.

Concept

Diner: Kudos to Com.motion for helping move the needle towards full adoption of social media tools. This is a great example of a social media release, the new PR format that all should follow. Having a social media release to support (or launch) this initiative is a perfect way to get the word out to the news media and bloggers. It provides the right tools in the right way.

Barnett: I might be missing something, but why a separate, practically unbranded site/release that contains a fraction of the information on the product itself? Nutrisystem.ca is pretty good, so why not just add social media tools there and send a release driving people to it?

Tools available

Diner: It’s easy to read and navigate and takes advantage of some of the multimedia tools firms can utilize.

Barnett: The easiest and best free tool is found at addthis.com. It’s a button that can be applied to any page easily, that lets the user select which social media sites they want to attach the content to. I just don’t see why sites/this release would add three or four different tools when this one tool covers pretty much everything. Sure, there is one extra click, but then it reveals so much choice and it is simple to use!

‘Share’ options: Is the info appropriate for each network?

Diner: Without question. It provides the ability to share information on a variety of networks in an effective manner. Take note. This is how you do it.

Barnett: It is getting easier to create content specific to networks simply because the networks have attracted huge, diverse groups. Coca-Cola did a great job by posting their The Coke Side of Life spoof ad of Grand Theft Auto, ‘Coke GTA,’ on YouTube. It really fit the network and has over three million views. But as networks like Facebook grow beyond control and lose that specific target…suddenly the content doesn’t need to be as relevant to just the network. So will someone post this content? Sure. Probably the same person that keeps sending me pictures of cats.

Blog coverage to date

Diner: The Bargainista’s NutriSystem Challenge [in which readers could win a free product trial] was a great idea, but at the end of the day, it was a one-week contest that generated nine entries and two posts. I’m sure there’s a left-brainer out there somewhere mumbling the letters ‘ROI.’

Barnett: I tried to find a disclaimer somewhere that explained NutriSystem’s involvement, but couldn’t find it. This is a pretty hot topic and the credibility of a lot of people and agencies has been affected by flogs. The content sounds too pretty. [Editor's note: while bloggers weren't paid by NutriSystem, they were provided with free trials of the product.]

The creds

NutriSystem Canada

Lou Carsley, GM

Veritas Communications/Com.motion

Keith McArthur, senior director, media innovation;

Brenna Flynn, Com.motion coordinator; Karen Cleveland, senior consultant