April 16, 2018
CANNABIS MARKETING: DISPENSARY SOCIAL MEDIA
Dispensaries and cannabis brands alike are constantly looking to increase customer acquisition through the power of social media. In fact, dispensaries are searching day and night for ways to ramp up brand loyalty in an industry flooded with competitors. However, as an industry that isn’t even fully legalized, the challenges can be quite immense – particularly when it comes to advertising. Thus, it is crucial that your brand is represented in the right way and following cannabis-marketing best practices when it comes to social media. Let’s dive in!
Every social media channel has its own policy providing how you can and cannot advertise on their platform; there are especially restrictive policies towards cannabis. To dispensaries trying to utilize social media, it leaves an enormous gray area where owners aren’t even certain what is allowed. In fact, Facebook is the most well-known for this because it is so widely used and since they own Instagram, both channels take a unified approach, completely restricting cannabis-related advertising.
According to a Leafly report, a popular California-based edible company Kiva Confections was the victim of ongoing impersonations which led to the termination of a couple false Instagrams. Through their efforts to get the accounts removed, Kiva received a full statement from Instagram, one that appears to outline their existing policies:
"Instagram does not allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. This is primarily because most federal laws, including those of the United States, treat marijuana as either an illegal substance or highly regulated good. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. We do however allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug. Dispensaries can promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also promote its sale or provide contact information to their store."
The emphasis above has been added to highlight that one big contact element has been left of that list: your website. Thus, if you can drive customers to your website, you will have all the same benefits as having it on Instagram. This is MONUMENTAL for the industry. Finally, a definitive guideline to abide by and clear the air on this smoky topic!
All in all, as long as you are not promoting the sale of cannabis, you should be safe. You can promote use and legalization of cannabis – more or less meaning advocacy, product reviews, strain reviews, and anything else you can think of excluding a sales pitch or direct contact information. Ultimately, getting customers to your website should be the end all goal. From there, you can implement coupons and promote “online-only” deals.
Social media is ever changing and so are the tactics used by marketers to achieve brand loyalty and growth. Below we have our own guidelines listed based on some of the industry’s real owner’s/expert’s thoughts and opinions.
Find Your Target Audience and Engage with Them
The cannabis industry is growing so fast in today’s society that one must be able to target exactly who their target audience is in order to effectively market to them. Using some of today’s social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. one is able to become closer to our consumers than ever before. So, how do we find and pinpoint this target audience?
To hone in on a target market, it’s important to think like your target market; ask questions like your target consumer would… What does your ideal customer like and do? For example, do they enjoy learning about new strains or perhaps the legal side of the cannabis industry? Asking these kinds of questions will help you narrow down the type of content you should create to best market and advertise to those target consumers. Asking these questions will also illuminate how to position your brand’s marketing strategy, how to frame your brand’s image, and how to create the social presence your brand seeks on these media channels.. Thus, it is important that you think like and engage with individuals who are already active in the cannabis industry!
Brand Your Company with a Human, Professional, and Relative Voice
Although cannabis is becoming more and more accepted by the general public, it is very important you display a tone reflecting the business side of your brand as well. The key is to maintain a professional but friendly tone – you don’t want to come off as too casual or improper, but you also don’t want to sound like an automated sales pitch. Stick to your brand story – if your brand is fun, show that with each post. Your brand should be as transparent as can be when telling your story. Lastly, make sure you speak from the company’s point-of-view leaving the first person perspective for your personal posts.
Sponsor, Develop, and Collaborate on Digital Content for Your Community
Content, content, content. Content is king and your avenue to each and every potential customer. Share the content that makes your brand special. Whether you increase awareness via articles, snap photos of your grow rooms, or promote cannabis legalization news, show your audience that your brand is more than just a catchy name. Mix up your content, poll your audience, and analyze what information or content they would like to see.
Cross-Promote with Other Brands to Increase Your Audience
Utilize big names in the cannabis industry to increase your growth rate. Today, our consumers understand they are being marketed to by brands online 24/7. This makes it crucial to generate positive word-of-mouth advertising about your product and brand through influencers that have a powerful effect on their follower’s opinions. This can be paid, through mutual trade, or some other arrangement, but no matter the agreement, you’ll want to find influencers that fit your brand well. Tap into each influencer’s audience, expand your following, and broaden your reach.
Develop Brand Loyalty Through Customer Satisfaction
Respond to your audience when they interact with your business online, by doing so you will create a positive association with each and every individual your brand interacts with. Responding in a friendly, professional, and timely manner is how you will gain the loyalty of the internet. Not to mention, your responses are seen worldwide and by other potential customers, so this creates another opportunity for you to enhance your brand’s reputation.
Utilize Analytics to Guide Your Strategy
There is no better way to tell if your current strategy is working than by looking at the numbers. Analyze your social media metrics to see which posts are performing well with your audience and which ones are not, make the necessary adjustments, and duplicate your successes. This data will offer insight into what content your audience enjoys, the best times to reach your audience, as well as the days. As your audience grows, be sure to revamp these strategies accordingly to optimize for growth.
Take Advantage of Advertising Opportunities on Industry Relevant Websites
Utilize cannabis-specific website and online communities to list your business and look for advertising opportunities. Websites such as these have no guidelines when it comes to advertising your product and can often be your number one source when to comes to reaching your target market. Websites like Leafly, WeedMaps, HighTimes, etc. are prime examples of avenues to cannabis audiences.
Just like that of every other industry, businesses in the cannabis industry should be utilizing every marketing medium possible, including social media. With around 2.77 billion social network users worldwide brands are becoming household names over night. Utilize these tips and try your hand or leave it to the experts, but either way make your brand BLOOM!