A Case Study on Blogger Engagement: Nuun’s Hood to Coast Team

When done well, a promotional partnership between a brand and an online influencer is mutually beneficial. Though it sounds simple, it is often difficult for companies to develop strategies on how to best engage bloggers in a meaningful and effective way. Over the last three months, I’ve watched closely as one company – nuun  – has, in my opinion, brilliantly executed a blogger engagement campaign in conjunction with the popular Hood to Coast relay race taking place this weekend in the pacific northwest.

Unless you are an athlete, you probably haven’t heard of nuun. As an avid runner, even I hadn’t heard of nuun until late May of this year. That’s when all my favorite running bloggers starting posting about this seemingly obscure product. My interest piqued, I did a bit of digging and discovered that nuun is an electrolyte-enhanced hydration product.

“Okay… I don’t get it,” I thought. Yes, the product is certainly relevant to runners. But it didn’t look big enough for all these major blogs to start posting about it almost simultaneously.

Through some additional research, I learned the reason so many blogs had mentioned nuun was a contest of sorts had been announced:

Nuun is putting together an ALL FEMALE, ALL BLOGGER team for the 30th anniversary running of the Hood to Coast epic relay event

A blog post on the company website provided more information about the contest, which asked bloggers to submit creative applications on why they should be chosen for the Nuun Hood-to-Coast team. Those selected for the team would have everything taken care of during race weekend, except for travel costs to and from Seattle.

Image from the 2010 documentary "Hood to Coast"

As the bloggers began submitting applications, they began promoting their entries through their own, very established social channels. I was hard-pressed to browse my Google reader that week without seeing mentions of the Nuun Hood to Coast team.

In late June, Nuun announced the bloggers who had made the team – and to everyone’s surprise, the company ended up selecting two teams comprised of 20 bloggers (and four nuun employees).

As a runner who one day hopes to compete in a relay as exciting as Hood to Coast, I was excited for all those selected, eager to read their posts as they trained and planned for the event.  As a communications professional, I couldn’t help but admire nuun’s genius campaign. Through the initiative, the company handpicked 22 influential fitness bloggers with large communities to be ambassadors for nuun in the months leading up to Hood to Coast.

When nuun announced its teams of bloggers, I added all the blogs I wasn’t already reading to my RSS feed.  Since then, I’ve noticed weekly posts from each of them covering their training, packing plans, team bios, information about their specific relay legs and, of course, the nuun product. A couple of weeks ago, nuun sent the bloggers a care package filled with products. Around the same time, the company provided a 25% off promotional code the women could share with their readers.

The best part? The bloggers’ posts never seemed overly promotional. From what I read, they did not feel taken advantage of or under-compensated. Instead, they were all genuinely excited to be a part of nuun’s team, which made me – as a reader – excited about Hood to Coast and even got me to check out the nuun product website several times. In fact, I’m planning to make a trip to Washington CitySports soon to pick up my own tube of nuun as I hit the homestretch of my Army 10 Miler training plan so I know the program gained nuun at least one new customer…

Kudos to the nuun team – this certainly made for a great blogger engagement program. To all the runners, good luck this weekend!

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13 thoughts on “A Case Study on Blogger Engagement: Nuun’s Hood to Coast Team

  1. This is great. I’m glad that a company offered something like this for people to try and participate in. I’d like to see more companies in the future do stuff like this.

    I ran Hood to Coast last year–my first time. It was an epic, amazing experience. Good luck to the runners today!

    • Same here, Lisa. I think these types of partnerships are much more effective than standard reviews/giveaways (although these tactics were definitely included, nice to see them as part of a whole program rather than stand alone).

      So cool that you’ve done H2C! I have added it to my bucket list, and can’t wait to check out the documentary when it comes out on DVD.

  2. It’s funny, I never heard of nuun before I noticed some of the bloggers in my Google Reader mentioning it. And last time I was at City Sports, I picked up a tube and I’ve been trying it out this week, so nuun’s strategy certainly worked! So far, I like the way it tastes and I’ll drink it during/after short workouts, but for long runs, I’ll still use Gatorade for the calories/carbs.

    • It really was a brilliant way to build awareness about the product while also building important relationships with these bloggers. Glad to read your review of it, too!

  3. This really is a good article and you hit everything on the head! We were truly excited to be a part of Nuun’s Hood to Coast team, and while they provided us an amazing opportunity, I only hope we were able to do the same for them.

    • Thank you, Alyssa! I love reading your wrap-ups of Hood-to-Coast weekend – I never want them to end! It really was such a fantastic program, and it’s amazing to read how honored you all felt to be a part of it.

  4. What a GREAT post!! COnsidering this was partially my brain child I am pleased to have such a glowing review. FYI you were linked on the nuun main page 🙂 Have you tried the tube yet?

    • Tall Mom! So glad to have you stop by as I love your blog! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know that Nuun had linked to this post – I thanked them for the support. That simple link shows how much the team over there gets and understands the blogosphere.

      I haven’t been able to get to my local sports store to pick up a tube yet, but it’s on my To-Do list, especially after reading how much you guys loved using it during Hood-to-Coast!

  5. Pingback: runDisney Heavily Promotes Princess Half Marathon Online, Builds Community Along the Way | Staying On Track

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