How Hallmark Uses Social Media to Understand People – Via Tom Brailsford

Posted by Ben Smithee Thursday, July 21, 2011 18:40

Hallmark has taken a holistic and innovative approach to exploring how social media can be used to understand people. Tom Brailsford gave a wonderful presentation on Hallmark’s approach and learnings at this year’s Merlien Market Research in a Mobile World conference in Atlanta.

Hallmark is inherently a “listening company” from the time when J.C Hall used to stand outside his stores in the 50’s and elicit feedback from his customers.  Though not probably one of the companies that initially comes to mind when discussing innovation, Hallmark has been utilizing the social web and online methods for research before most, and has taken an extremely forward-thinking approach to being innovative and knowledge expansion.



Tom Brailsford presented several frameworks that Hallmark uses when implementing social media for “understanding people,” primarily through listening.  To start off, he mentioned five key steps in Hallmark’s journey:

  • 2000 – Hallmark created some of the first, if not the very first, online communities for MR
  • 2005 – Hallmark piloted a Social Media listening experiment with Umbria (there were about 17million blogs)
  • 2007 – Hallmark undertook a study with Spiral 16 to understand influential bloggers
  • 2009 – Hallmark underwent an RFP process, thoroughly examining about 8 social media listening  vendors
  • 2010 – Hallmark worked with Spych Market Analytics (Social Media Consultation)
    and Collective Intellect  (Holiday Ornaments study)

The overall efforts have come down to one major objective and three sub-questions:
the major question of “Is there a framework we can use to understand SM data?” was supported by three “simple” questions:

  1. Can we use social media sources to get new product ideas?
  2. Can we use social media data to create marketing initiatives?
  3. Can we use social media to understand people’s lives?

Tom then led the audience through a series of findings and understandings that Hallmark learned throughout their collaborative efforts:

  • Venders emerge on a daily basis, with most containing relatively the same capabilities;
  • SM data is very messy and you need to be careful on how companies (vendors) are cleaning it;
  • Text analysis capabilities vary from vender to vendor, and you need to know what questions to ask in order to validate them;
  • Sentiment is still marginally accurate;
  • It is difficult to classify individual contributors – but not impossible and more costly;
  • Need very specific goals and objectives;
  • Social media conversations are very rich and can support many different aspects;
  • Amazingly deep and rich emotional content is present and able to be uncovered;
  • To get meaningful learnings and insights, it is very time and labor intensive,
    even with software.

Tom provided a thorough and impressive look at what steps Hallmark took to determining
the best application for social media for understanding and consumer insight.  For more information, you can download a white paper on their efforts by clicking here.





You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “How Hallmark Uses Social Media to Understand People – Via Tom Brailsford”

  1. Pingback: Debriefing on Market Research in the Mobile World | GreenBook

  2. Matt Warta says:

    August 24th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    One of the other issues we see at GutCheck is that with social listening it is often times hard to separate the signal from the noise. The social listening platforms are great at aggregating and streamlining a lot of data, but one needs to remember that not all of those social conversations are coming from your customer. We’ve found clients who are using GutCheck’s online qualitative platform to quickly suss out whether what they are hearing in the social sphere is really representative of how their specific target market thinks. This makes social listening an even more valuable tool for these organizations.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We value your privacy . We will not rent or sell your email address.