Getting Serious By Segmenting Influencers

John Bell VP Enterprise Digital Marketing, Travelers

Posted on February 8th 2010

We manage databases of influencers for particular subject areas and clients that are 500 influencers strong. We know them all in one way or another. We respect their authority and their interests. And we only want to engage them for things that make sense to them (and our client). We want to respect their time and expertise.

We segment our influencers in absolute categories and in categories that are specific to a particular client project. Ever try engaging Food bloggers over a frozen food? You quickly realize that there are many segments of food bloggers. Some will put convenience on the front burner and be receptive. Others would just as soon burn you at the stake for ignoring their "pure" interests in food and presuming that they would ever engage with an FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) product like frozen peas or prepared meals.

I have spoken about our approach toSocial Influencer Relationship Management (Social IRM) which is really the grown-up management of our influencer relationships for their benefit and the brands we work with.

Everyone goes in the database. We track the following types of data:

1. who they are - we love to get to know the influencers we connect with often
2. how influential they are following our 6 measures (it ain't always about "reach")
3. what are their interest by categories and subcategories
4. what have we learned from talking with them about their interests (some really want to hear from brands on certain things and not on others)

There is nothing diabolical about keeping track of this information. Influencers who want to engage with relevant brands appreciate the disgression this breeds. Everyone hates indiscriminate "pitches."

Here's an example of a visualization of a segmentation we have done for a food related project (note to anyone featured here - don't worry, we are not targeting you. This list merely notes your authority and influence):


Segmenting Green

Jacquelyn Ottman had a great post on segmenting green consumers on HBR Blogs. This is the  type of useful segmentation that helps both us, the marketers, and the consumers or influencers (note: our online influencers range from professional witers to proam experts who are essentially regular consumers who have earned some authority in a certain area of interest)

Here's how she sums it up

"Ask: To which environmental organizations do members of our target audience belong (The Appalachian Mountain Club or Greenpeace)? Which types of vacations do they take (hiking or the beach)? Which environmental magazines and websites do they read or visit? (Sierra or Animal Fair?) Which types of products do they buy? (green fashions or energy-sipping light bulbs)? Which eco-labels do they seek out ("USDA Organic" or "Energy Star")?

In observing green consumers over the past twenty years my colleagues and I have found that asking questions like these allows companies to distinguish between four subsegments, which we've dubbed "Resource Conservers", "Health Fanatics", "Animal Lovers" and "Outdoor Enthusiasts." Of course, there are some overlaps among these groups, but discovering which subsegment your customers mainly fall into can sharpen your marketing. The following descriptions are generalizations, but they capture the spirit of each type of consumer."

She continues in describing each segment and importantly some ways marketers can be relevant to them. Here's an example fo her description for Outdoor enthusiasts:

"Outdoor Enthusiasts spend their free time camping, rock climbing, skiing, and hiking. They vacation in national parks and plan their next adventure using tips from Outdoors Magazine. Whether they're purchasing Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap to reduce the impact of washing dishes while camping, or toting reusable bottles like Kleen Kanteen to avoid littering the trail, they seek to minimize the impact of their recreational activities. When shopping, they look for FSC (sustainably harvested) labels on their products, are also likely to purchase outdoor gear made from recycled materials, such as Synchilla PCR (post-consumer recycled polyester) from Patagonia.

Some ways to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts:

1. Conduct a joint promotion with national parks or manufacturers of boots, reusable bottles, and trail mix snacks.
2. Advertise in Sierra Club magazine or online at"

How do you segment and organize your online influencers?

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John Bell

VP Enterprise Digital Marketing, Travelers


I head up Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers. Just as Travelers anticipates the needs of personal and business insurance customers in an ever-changing world, we approach marketing differently. The customer journey has changed. To meet these new behaviors, we put data-driven content, digital marketing and social engagement at the heart of marketing.  


Previously, I developed, grew and ran Ogilvy’s global, social media solutions practice – Social@Ogilvy.  The world’s largest network of social media and business strategists, the team believes in the power and impact of truly integrated social media business solutions. I drove senior client engagements, the development of Ogilvy’s social planning framework, and a global training program for staff and clients, alike. Our work  combines deep disciplines like crm, public relations, advertising and shopper marketing and rooted in what drives behavior.  

I have developed and executed enterprise social media strategy for the Ford Motor Company, Nestle, IBM, Coca Cola, and DuPont - including work winning a Silver Lion at Cannes.  I launched a single brand Facebook initiative in 20+ countries, helped telcos in Australia and Greece adopt social care and marketing and consulted with consumer goods marketers in Turkey. 

Discovery Communications

Discovery Channel was one of the first media properties to really experiment with the Web. I was brought in as Creative Director to transform a single Web site into a network of 14 Web properties known as We had live, online expeditions from the field. Reporters posted stories, audio and video from Australia in search of giant spiders and from the bottom of the ocean where they explored the Titanic wreckage for the first time. All while the events were happening.  I designed and built online experiences for TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids, Discovery Health, Travel Channel not to mention a host of digital TV network sites and global sites.

AT&T, Viacom & Media Circus

The first wave of innovation was Interactive Television (iTV) in 1990.  I headed up the Visual Design Studio at Downtown Digital, a joint venture between Viacom and AT&T to create the most futuristic vision of interactive television anyone could imagine. I created programming for kids, gamers, and fully interactive applications for Paramount Studios and Entertainment Tonight.  This model of set-top box delivered interactivity remains a vision for all iTV innovation.

I created the first Interactive Advertisement for American Express during that ITV trial. Then, as a founding member and Creative Director, I formed Media Circus Interactive Advertising in New York during the 1990's. We created award-winning CD-ROMs including designing the first interactive advertisement on Launch, then a CD-ROM zine, for Sony. I also designed the first I-Spy CD-ROM for Scholastic extending the brand into the electronic space and pushing the limits of what an interactive experience could be. At the same time the Internet was exploding. I designed and built complicated transaction sites for Gateway Computers and wild experiments like MTV’s Web service that connected “stringers” all across the country reporting on the music scene in their community (sound a bit like blogging? It should and the year was 1995).

Charlex, M&Co. and RGA

My early career was in television design and production. I literally grew up at Charlex, a design and production company, producing some of the most artful and innovative television commercials and pioneering the use of complex blue and green screen effects. I count Alex Weil as a huge influence as well as Tibor Kalman. Tibor ran M&Co. (and  was CD at Interview Magazine) and taught me what it really means to be a Creative Director. We produced his first moving media designs including a design prototype for Godfather III titles using a vacuuform machine. I produced complex, design-based television commercials with RGA and learned a tremendous amount from Robert Greenberg and, at that time, Executive Producer Andy Arkin.   

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in European history and spent a lot of time at the Annenberg School of Communications.I loved Philly and worked at an innovative, post-punk restaurant - the Knave of Hearts - on South Street.  

Memberships & Affiliations

  • I served on the board as past president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)
  • I currently serve on the Advisory Panel for Social Media Today
  • I served on the advisory board to PBS Engage at
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