As the 20th century became the 21st, the blogosphere evolved from a smattering of virtual diaries to a network of interactive websites covering topics from politics to dog grooming and gardening to technology. Slowly making its way into the foreground of the digital communications stage, blogging has become a staple in information production and consumption.
An interesting thing about bloggers is that while they are, indeed, relaying information, they are telling their personal stories at the same time. A travel blogger may write a piece about selecting luggage that lasts, but at its core, the piece is about her disastrous honeymoon travels and how it brought her and her partner closer together. A fitness blogger may write a review about a pair of shoes she loves, but her readers are viewing her content through the lens of her inspiring weight-loss journey. Each blogger has a story to tell—and our industry has stories that need to be told.
Supplementation is personal, too. No two bodies are the same and everyone cites different reasons for supplementing. Maybe you take vitamin C because your mother told you that you should. Your doctor suggested it, so you take fish oil. You saw an ad in a magazine that inspired you, so you use a protein shake to enhance your morning workout. The reasons are endless.
One thing is for sure: As our industry seeks more ways to build alliances, educate consumers and tell the story of our products and our people, we want to be tapping into the blogosphere.
We have an opportunity to embrace this new landscape of “byte"-sized factoids and shared experiences in addition to all the other communications tactics we’re currently using. So CRN (Council for Responsible Nutrition) went to #BlogHer16, the leading conference for female bloggers, in hopes of connecting with those who write about wellness, lifestyle and fitness. The lone trade association amidst a sea of high-profile companies with popular products (Velcro, Baskin Robbins and Garnier, plus three of CRN’s own members, Garden of Life, Herbalife and Smarty Pants), we sought to set down a tried and true footprint with a new audience and establish CRN as the educational go-to resource for this community. Think of us, we told them, when you’re looking to supplement your content with science-based, well-supported information on dietary supplements.
The response was encouraging, with almost non-stop traffic making its way to our booth—a notable exception being the hour when uber reality star and social media guru Kim Kardashian was the featured lunchtime speaker. However, the bloggers weren’t just there to meet me and CRN’s communications team. At our booth, we set up a rotating schedule of doctors and registered dietitians to greet our visitors. These “Wellness Ambassadors" were more than welcoming (and more than welcomed) as they spoke one-on-one with the bloggers, listening to their stories about why they blog and why they supplement. Presenting a spectrum of credible, science-based perspectives, the Wellness Ambassadors were questioned by the bloggers on topics such as women’s health, sports nutrition, dietary restrictions and other issues that women and their families face on a daily basis. By conversing face-to-face, hearing their stories, and having candid conversations, the CRN staff and Wellness Ambassadors were able to humanize our industry, find commonality, and start a real-life dialogue about the power of dietary supplements.
CRN’s communications team returned from #BlogHer16 with a renewed energy reflecting the enthusiasm from bloggers for our industry. As we pinned blogger after blogger with a button reading “68%," we were reminded that we’re part of the more than two-thirds of Americans who take dietary supplements—and so are so many of the bloggers we met. We hope they returned to their computers equipped with new perspectives, new information and new ideas for creative and dynamic content. Certainly, we’ll continue to reach out to those we met who expressed enthusiasm in working together. In blogging about the supplement industry and supplement usage, these women present themselves as more than just a statistic in a magazine or study. Utilizing their online presence as a platform for their own experiences, they become a powerful voice to increase the positive narrative of responsible supplementation.
Judy Blatman is the senior vice president of communications for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry.