Marketing Your Cannabis Business on Social Media
The cannabis industry is slowly breaking out of its stereotypes. From a taboo topic, the discussion and trade for this business are being stirred by users, supporters, and even the politics governing the use of the cannabis plant is being restructured making it more accessible.
While the world is opening up to the cannabis industry, there are still proper ways or unwritten laws on how to introduce a controversial product to a conservative audience. We are here today to give you a rundown on the basics of social media marketing as well as integrate how to responsibly market your product without causing backlash.
First and foremost, you need to be adept at the basics of social media marketing across platforms. Here's a brief pre-launch checklist to prepare for your social media marketing.
Prepare a Sound Social Media Marketing Plan
Your first step into making your presence felt on social media platforms is to create a sound marketing plan. No goals were ever achieved without a plan. When drafting your social media strategy, you need to answer the following questions:
- Does your branding shine through?
- Do your materials reflect your branding, mission and vision?
- What do you want to achieve once your brand goes online?
- Are you ready to keep up with trends or flexible to adapt to changes?
- Are you ready to keep a standard schedule of posting and engaging?
If you have a clear answer to the following questions, you can start laying out the foundation of your plan and outline what you want to see from general to specific. Make sure that your content will address your target audience and is tailored to reflect responsible cannabis marketing.
Know Where You Want Your Brand To Be Seen
As a brand, you need to decide on which platforms your products, services, and ads will be seen. You need to know where your audience is as well. Are they on Facebook? Instagram? Linkedin? or other frictionless platforms? By defining which platform to build your presence on, you can tailor-fit your content to how each platform’s audience consumes them.
Mind you, it gets tricky from here.
Know The Ins and Outs of Community Guidelines
One of the most important things you need the most knowledge about is social media guidelines. Social media might be a place where you can freely express your thoughts but as a brand, it is important to adhere to the rules. Facebook’s community guidelines are not the same as Linkedin’s so while it is tempting to just accept the terms and conditions, as a brand owner, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with what is acceptable on the platform and which actions to avoid.
Prepare A Budget
Surprise! While marketing on social media is mostly free, you can invest in paid ads to further boost your brand. Each month, set aside a certain budget to utilize for paid initiatives and then map out which platform will receive more budget than the other. It is best to invest in a platform where most of your customers are present. Aside from your actual budget, make that product, website, and application links available so you can maximize your material.
Once you have all these four in check, you can now start conceptualizing and scheduling content per platform. In case you need an extra hand in identifying how you can use Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin for your business, here’s a breakdown of each platform and how you can leverage them for your business:
- Meta Business Suite for Facebook and Instagram
Facebook is the largest platform to grow your business. With 2.936 billion users worldwide, whatever industry you're in, Facebook is the go-to whether you’re a start-up or looking to launch your business online.
But here’s the catch, Meta considers cannabis or CBD as an “unsafe substance” and is included in their prohibited content list. There seems to be a loophole in not mentioning “CBD”, “Cannabis” or another related lingo on the ad content itself, or wherever the ad is linked to. If you want to take this approach, consider rebranding it as a “hemp-based topical product”, however, this simply implies that the products are not ingestible, hence making it counterproductive and confusing for your buyer. But still, it can get your brand seen and searched in one way or another.
One of the booming platforms in terms of promoting your business is Linkedin. Users don’t just celebrate a new job or getting out of a toxic company, but they also use LinkedIn conversations and reviews as a basis for brand and product consumption. Considered a cannabis-friendly platform, here are a few reasons why you should consider getting your brand out there:
- LinkedIn is Pro Business
The platform does not actively remove Cannabis related content and business pages like Facebook and Instagram. You can represent your brand the way you want to. It’s important to keep in mind though that much like the leading social media platforms, you cannot sell cannabis products directly from LinkedIn, but you can keep the conversation about cannabis flowing and consumers interested.
- LinkedIn Links You To The Right Audience
The network is filled with professionals who have the spending power to buy your products. With the modern workplace being a highly-stressful environment, many seek relief through lifestyle activities and consumer products. This is how LinkedIn can get you within arm’s length of your ideal customers.
- LinkedIn Has Less Competition
Not many know about the platform being cannabis friendly so expect to find less competition at the moment. This means that your content, comments and tags will most likely shine through.
- LinkedIn can grow your dispensary audience organically or through paid efforts
Organic Marketing: Freely promote your brand but avoid directly selling the actual products as this still go against the platform’s community standards. Keep things conversational, entertaining, educational and aspirational and maintain your posts with a consistent publishing schedule. In social media, creativity and consistency is key to growing your audience organically. Here are some ideas to start:
- Brand engagement posts such as Meet the Team, Behind The Scenes and any content that can make your business fun, responsible and relatable
- Bust a myth about cannabis products
- Industry trivia and relevant statistical data
- Keep the engagement flowing by sharing interesting content posted by other cannabis companies and key opinion leaders in the field.
- Comment on other companies’ posts so you can be exposed to their audience. Make sure to leave thought-provoking comments to lure the right audience in and keep your page active without many posts on your own feed.
Paid Ads: While LinkedIn is a cannabis-friendly platform, having paid ads approved is still not a walk in the park. Ads are still approved by real people with rules to follow. In any case, here are ways how you can increase the chances of having your paid ads approved:
- Avoid advertising cannabis products, but consider how you can market your brand as a “lifestyle” or an experience.
- Don’t use words such as “cannabis, marijuana, pot”. Maintain conservative content in both words and imagery.
- Don’t use images that show the plant or any acts of using the product. You can opt for safe imagery such as a person smiling ear to ear, adding products to a cart on a mobile app or a hand handing a dispensary go bag or delivery package.
- Get your ad in front of an age-appropriate audience. Consider increasing the target age to >30 for better chances.
Not all ads get approved since it goes through a thorough screening. If your content gets rejected, make further tweaks to your material and resubmit. However, if luck is not on your side, make sure to maximize the potential of organic engagement.
For marketing cannabis, make sure that you adhere to each platform’s branding. Understanding how to approach various audiences on varying platforms can help your brand and content succeed. But if you find marketing on social media a real challenge, consider promoting on “frictionless” platforms such as podcasts and mobile apps.
With podcasts, you can collaborate with industry leaders or lifestyle influencers who have an appreciation for the green lifestyle. After all, talking about it online is much more impactful rather than just posting products online without much context on legality, safety and overall benefits. Podcasts make it easier for consumers to understand how cannabis products can better their lives and how they can gain access to it.
On the other hand, we have mobile apps.
While a mobile app is not an advertising platform per se, it is a customized platform where you can truly be yourself. You can introduce your brand, promote products and offers, securely feed ads through push notifications and be searched on leading app stores through app store optimization. You can also integrate your own social feature where you can connect users together for a stronger brand community.
After all that has been said, marketing your cannabis brand in the virtual landscape all boils down to staying true to your brand’s identity and integrating and addressing the needs and requirements of each platform. With a lucrative business like cannabis trading, we believe that owners are very much aware of the ins and outs of creating conversations and disrupting social media with impactful educational materials that will help further the cannabis industry’s advocacies and help the industry reach new heights.