Case Study

The case study for 2015 was the digital strategy of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

About ASN

The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) (www.nutrition.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together the world’s top researchers, clinical nutritionists and industry to advance our knowledge and application of nutrition for the sake of humans and animals. Our focus ranges from the most critical details of research and application to the broadest applications in society, from the U.S. and around the world. 

Through excellence in nutrition research and practice, ASN's more than 5,000 members enhance scientific knowledge and quality of life. The Society supports its members and fulfills its mission by fostering and enhancing research in animal and human nutrition; providing opportunities for sharing, disseminating, and archiving peer-reviewed nutrition research results (at its annual meeting and in 3 official publications); fostering quality education and training in nutrition; upholding standards for ethical behavior in research, the protection of human subjects, and the care and treatment of research animals; providing opportunities for fellowship and support among nutritionists; and bringing scientific knowledge to bear on nutrition issues through communication and influence in the public domain.

ASN was founded in 1928 as the American Institute for Nutrition. In 2005, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (formerly the American Institute for Nutrition) and the Society for International Nutrition merged to form ASN. Today, the Society encompasses both research and clinical focuses. ASN is also a constituent society of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and benefits from their collaboration on advocacy activities.

Digital Strategy Efforts

ASN established a targeted digital presence starting in 2008. ASN was finding its feet after a merger of 3 different societies in 2005, starting with a newly established identity as "ASN," a new logo and enhanced branding efforts. A redesigned website was launched in January 2008 which included a blog for the first time.

ASN’s strategic map outlined the following guiding principle: Promote ASN as the authoritative, global leader in nutrition through science. ASN’s digital strategy has the following major goals:

  • Communicate to our members and potential members the value of ASN membership
  • Disseminate science-based nutrition information to fellow scientists, the public, and media
  • Promote the following: journal content, attendance at professional events, advocacy relationships, the ASN Foundation
  • Raise awareness about the Society among thought leaders in nutrition and increase engagement with them

The Society is active on the following digital platforms:

For metrics, ASN uses Hootsuite analytics and Google Analytics (minimal costs). Over the past few years, ASN has occasionally purchased advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook. These campaigns focused on recruiting members and promoting upcoming events. Facebook advertising did not show a connection to increased attendance at events. Twitter ad campaigns were initiated in Fall 2014; over 30 days we paid $637 for 165K impressions. For Google AdWords in 2014, we booked more than 122,000 clicks and $88,591 in free advertising.

Strengths:

  • A reputable body of members who can promote our mission and explain the science
  • An active blog with visitors averaging 6,000/month (how to best utilize this content?)
  • A good Klout score (78) and a steadily growing number of followers on all outlets

Challenges:

  • Digital media in the food/health arena is saturated with content, from reputable to bogus; standing out can be difficult
  • Determining when to react to negative Tweets, blog posts, etc.
  • Determining if we are truly reaching the audience(s) we want
  • Should we initiate our own Tweet chat?
  • Are we spreading our efforts too broadly for limited staff resources?