The place of Social Media Platforms in Advertising Cannabis

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Social media is one of the best ways for business, including the cannabis industry, to connect with their customers. Be careful, though, because running your account will be like living on the lamb, one wrong turn and your account is gone forever. Months and years of hard work can be wiped out at the whim of a giant corporation. 

Some cannabis businesses go so far as to ignore the power of social media simply because of that specific risk. With such high demands of time and curating the perfect content, the effort just isn’t worth the risk for them. Opting instead to focus on a high level of SEO and email advertising.

Others continue to put in the time, keeping the risks in mind, simply because so many people rely so heavily on social media for news and day-to-day information. With the majority of everyone you know using at least one of the social giants. Most of them are on their accounts daily. All the platforms offer access to a diverse user population, giving you the ideal marketplace to reach your target demographic, whoever that may be. So, the platforms are incredibly lucrative, constantly drawing the attention of many small and large businesses alike.

Keep reading to figure out how the biggest social media platforms might impact your business in a positive or negative way.

Social Media Giants and Cannabis Ad Campaigns

The biggest bottleneck for cannabis companies is a huge number of restrictions when running the ad campaigns through different social networks. The theory is that social media giants (FB, IG, RT and YouTube) all ban cannabis advertising as no minors should come into contact with advertisements for adult substances. In practice, however, it is drastically different. Canna-biz can, and does quite effectively, grow their audiences organically on any of the platforms.

Restrictions of sales, not education

A restriction sign with a hand.
There are a lot of restrictions regarding advertising of cannabis.

Technically, cannabis businesses are heavily restricted on the majority of social media platforms and often aren’t even allowed to have access. However, there are special guidelines they can follow, notably restricted advertising (no advertising where minors may be or see them) which would normally affect TV and radio ads. A simple age restriction goes a long way on shared content and also helps the business remain compliant.

E-commerce is heavily restricted, posting prices or sales will surely get you shut down. Most cannabis brands will resort to more of a lifestyle and educational approach rather than direct sales. All the while they have to manage the normal social media advertising struggles every business faces. Every brand has to manage compliance, grow their brand, and constantly improve engagement with their buyers. While you are not allowed to directly sell your cannabis goods, try to use different media to educate your potential customers. For example, the video format on YouTube is a great way to tell your buyers why cannabis is safe and may be used to treat different diseases, relieving the pain. In addition, such approach helps to:

  • Increase Brand image
  • Build Brand awareness
  • Evoke customers’ interest in your products
  • Stand out among competitors

Twitter’s freedom doesn’t mean it’s the best platform

A screenshot of a Twitter post.
Twitter doesn't seem to be a good channel for cannabis advertising, but it may still work for you.

Even though Twitter is tired as THE platform for B2B business communication. As you’re getting your breaking, real time news, you can also be checking up on the business you follow. However, the cannabis industry isn’t as prevalent on this platform. 

Twitter’s the adult show that comes on a little too early. Of the big three, Twitter allows the most adult oriented content, including cannabis. It doesn’t necessarily translate to a better experience for businesses or customers. Twitter’s hyper-reactive content and laborious interactions doesn’t give you the same top-of-the-funnel experience you’ll get from Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter really doesn’t appear to filter cannabis accounts, or anyone for that matter, but the limited character counts could lead to custom marketing platforms for this channel.

Treating it as a platform for customer service is a great option to remain active on the platform. This media usually used to:

  • Post daily announcements 
  • Inform about discounts
  • Run promotions
  • Post different memes and pics to get on the same page with your customers

Facebook & Instagram

Icons of Facebook and Instagram on the phone screen.
Instargam and Facebook provide users with powerful ad tools.

With the ever growing power of smartphone cameras, Instagram has taken over our lives. Changing how people keep up with their friends and family, but also the businesses consumers love. Every single day people post photos of themselves and their families, even tagging where exactly they are in the world. 

It’s openly owned by Facebook and follows the same restrictions on the cannabis industry. Moreover, to run any paid ads you still have to use FB business manager even if you want to promote your local business on Instagram. Same goes for preparing your content. The rules are identical.

To build an online presence as a cannabis business, Instagram (and Facebook) is essential. Content curation is key, you have to ensure your content is:

  • Targeted
  • Educational
  • Entertaining

With legalization imminent, Instagram’s guidelines are bound to loosen up around advertising and will be a key component to your cannabis business.

While FB and IF are great to establish B2C connections, for B2B you might find better results pushing your efforts off these platforms. 

As social media and cannabis meld into the social fabric we all live in, it’s important to remain connected to your consumer in this increasingly connected world. Cannabis businesses still find a lot of success in public events, usually centered on 4/20, but it’s important to remember that no single message is going to reach your whole consumer base.

Grow your audience with YouTube

A screenshot of Youtube page.
Youtube is a good platform for posting educating videos.

While you cannot directly sell cannabis in your videos on this platform, you are to educate you customers and attract new ones though useful videos.

The first step is establishing your YouTube channel with a company's brand name. Then, take a look at what YouTube cannabis-related videos are trending. Think about what is of interest to your potential audience and why. Go through the comments. What are people saying? What info are they looking for? This is a valuable source to come up with video topics for your cannabis channel. But how to start growing your own audience on the platform, converting it into real sales? The following are some of the steps to consider:

  • Subscribe – Engage: As you discover channels that are either influencers or customers that would be a good match for your brand, follow their channels. Go through videos that are of interest to you and leave a comment. Although you’re a brand, you’re still human and humans are engaged via conversation. The most reliable channels are the most engaged ones. Who knows, you may publish your videos someday. That influencer may do some community growing for you just because they appreciate your conversation. This is a very fundamental source of organic influencer marketing.
  • Publish: After you have obtained the right pro-consumer video stuff and have decided on video topics, it is time to craft your videos. The key point here is how useful your material is. Remember, you are here to educate your audience not to sell something in a fuss.
  • Guests: When you have a few videos up and running and you’ve made connections both with a target audience to your dispensary and cannabis influencers within your area, strive to invite a guest on a video. This is an extraordinary way to highlight others from talking someone’s favorite strains and marijuana-infused products to asking influencers about their place in the cannabis industry. It’s an organic community growing approach. In addition, it brings your company that needed "weight" in the industry.

So, what will make your cannabis social media account successful?

Social media is a reliable marketing and customer engagement tool. While you have to stick to strict rules and legal compliance issues, overall the platforms connect you to a broader, more diverse audience than you might see in-person. As a business, there’s no one way to connect best with your audience. It also is drastically impacted by the type of business you are running or working for and the outcome you’re looking to achieve.

A good rule to work off of is to ensure your channels focus on displaying and teaching valuable, visual, and easy to digest information. Gone are the “hard-selling” tactics of vacuum sales, hello bringing value directly to the customer.

So, when it comes to social media it's a game of content. An educational approach will even push growth through non-social media engagements with your cannabis company’s customers.

Solver Author: Solver
31.03.2020

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