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Leveraging Social Media + Online Listening to Inform Your Product Marketing
October 15, 2019
Leveraging Social Media + Online Listening to Inform Your Product Marketing
Liz Brohan

We know people aren’t shy about sharing their thoughts online. Social media platforms are awash in opinionated chatter — plus there’s similar content found on blogs, review sites, forums, and other online public venues.

Tracking, summarizing, and analyzing this tsunami of content is increasingly important to brands and businesses of all types. It’s like accessing a giant focus group happening in real time. And while looking at a business’s own social media platforms can be helpful for tracking consumer conversations, it’s never a complete or accurate picture. That’s because 96% of people who talk about brands and companies online don’t actually follow those brand’s social media platforms. The conversations and posts that companies see on their own platforms is a very small percentage of the total.

So, how do you find all those other conversations?

With online listening.


Online listening allows you to access all online conversations regardless of where they’re happening — ranging from social media to review sites, news sources, blogs, and more. Online listening software strategically tracks conversations based on keyword searches filtered by demographic variables — like age, gender, location, and even interests — across all online platforms to deliver insights that can inform marketing and other business decisions.

Using online listening software, you can gather insights as to what’s being talked about in almost any industry, on any topic, in any area of the country or world.

Here’s a good example using a “hot” topic in an even hotter industry — the use of CBD oil as part of the larger cannabis industry. We used online listening software to determine how the different generations are talking about their preferences and uses of CBD oil.

We found out who is talking, where they’re talking, and what they're saying. If you’re a manufacturer or retailer of CBD oil, this information would be very helpful when making marketing decisions about your products.


Using our online listening tool, NetBase, we conducted a study analyzing 1.3 million U.S. social media posts and other online mentions of CBD oil specifically for a one-year period ending in January 2019. This is a small fraction of the global conversation about cannabis in general — which was over 18 million mentions in that same time period. People talk online about its legality, its benefits, its impact on other industries, and more. For those in the cannabis business, it’s important to keep up with that conversation.

For our U.S. sampling, we looked at how consumers in three different age groups — baby boomers, generation X, and millennials — commented on their experiences and preferences around CBD oil on social media and other online platforms.

Overall, conversations about CBD oil were on a steady upward trajectory over the 12-month period we studied, with conversation distributed fairly equally between men (48%) and women (52%). Across all generations, one thing was clear: people are actively sharing recommendations and opinions about CBD oil online — regardless of age. Here are a few insights our online listening tool provided about CBD oil conversations, by generational group:

  • Baby Boomers (ages 54–72)

Baby boomers, along with millennials, were the main drivers of conversation about CBD oil. This generation talked about CBD oil in relation to its healing qualities for a variety of health issues ranging from arthritis to anxiety. They also touted the efficacy of CBD oils for pets, saying it “works wonders.” However, baby boomers are questioning the legality of CBD oil, which speaks to the urgent need for more educational messaging in the market.

  • Generation X (ages 38–53)

Gen X was the most positive generational group in conversations about CBD oil, and much like baby boomers, talked a lot about its specific health benefits for chronic pain, anxiety, depression, inflammation, and even schizophrenia. There are some skeptics among this generation, with some assuming that CBD oil contains THC, and is therefore illegal.

  • Millennials (ages 22–37)

Edible CBD was the most widely discussed consumption method across all age groups, with millennials talking about it the most. They spoke about its ability to help with pain, and they like that it’s a natural pain reliever. Overall, millennials are major advocates for CBD oil, talking frequently about it across social media platforms as well as blogs. However, negative millennial conversations touched on the high price tag of CBD oil.

These are just some of the insights uncovered by this study. Of key importance, however, was the clear need — regardless of the age group — for better education and information around CBD oil, as well as specific messaging that resonates with each demographic.

Tracking social media and online comments about your brands or business is easier than ever using any of several online listening software tools available, which are well worth the time to investigate. For more insights from our CBD oil generational study, to request a copy, or to learn more about online listening, get in touch with us here.

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