A Little Help from Your Friends: Cannabis Marketing and User Generated Content
User-generated content is the digital evolution of word-of-mouth marketing, and it can light your cannabis brand on fire!
Before social media, there was word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth (WOM) was organic. It was powerful and it was invaluable. Add social media to word-of-mouth and it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. In a recent study, 83% of respondents said word-of-mouth influences their purchases.
Who’s king of the mountain when it comes to swaying our opinion? SurveyMonkey data shows that word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are twice as influential as any other type of marketing.
So, how can you pour some social media gasoline on that word-of-mouth fire? How do you harness word-of-mouth to market your cannabis brand? Help your customers become advocates. Encourage word-of-mouth by facilitating user-generated content (UGC).
More with less
Let’s stay on WOM for just a bit longer before moving to UGC. There are two potent reasons why marketers strive to generate WOM:
- WOM generates sales faster than increasing your ad spend: Word-of-mouth marketing costs less but has a higher return on investment.
- Building a community vs viewing customers as a commodity: Word-of-mouth engages and facilitates relationships. Engaged customers buy more, and more often, and they recommend your brand to more people. Your investment in encouraging them to talk about the brand generates more revenue and it increases their lifetime value (LTV). Winning a new customer because of a recommendation dramatically lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC).
When you build a successful word-of-mouth marketing strategy, you create a machine that pumps out new customers who are loyal to your brand. Social media is the framework on which to build this machine, and user-generated content is its fuel.
Marketing past the limitations
A shifting landscape of local and federal laws and regulations, combined with general consumer lack of knowledge, makes it difficult to find the right marketing story to tell for a cannabis brand. What you can and cannot say about cannabis is highly regulated and limited by nearly all social media platforms.
Those limits apply to what you can say, not necessarily to what your customers can say.
What do your customers have to say? Use social media to focus on the experience your customers have with your cannabis brand. The FDA prohibits you from making any sort of health claim, but your customers don’t have that obstacle.
Today’s most successful cannabis brands are hard at work sparking conversations on social media and seeking out reviews. They’re focusing on creating demand for use, not buyers. A recent Harvard Business Review article says that these usage-focused brands pay more attention to finding ways to get customers to talk to each other — as opposed to purchase-focused brands that instead worry about what they are saying to customers.
Many cannabis brands struggle to find ways to engage customers with social media. This may be because they focus on the wrong “moment of truth” to spark a conversation. Instead of facilitating customers to talk about what’s happening before the transaction, look for ways to spark interactions about those moments of truth that happen after the transaction. Guide customers towards sharing personal experiences — especially those that are educational or offer perspective.
User-generated content is amplified word-of-mouth
People are talking about your cannabis brand. They’re recommending it to friends and family. Your challenge is to get them to move this conversation online. Not long ago, Marijuana Business Daily published statistics showing that word-of-mouth and social media were two of the most effective marketing and advertising methods for those businesses surveyed.
Combined, they are a community-making powerhouse that allows user-generated content to increase reach, build trust, and build brand recognition. Encouraging customers to talk about their experiences with your brand helps you to create a community of educators. These participants are hungry for even more information, which you can provide as a subject matter expert — following the appropriate social media guidelines.
You’ll have to fan the fire. Significant user-generated content usually doesn’t happen just because you throw out an invitation. Acknowledge every social post and move it beyond a reply. Don’t close the loop. Look for ways to turn it into an ongoing conversation.
- Reward those who post photos. UGC photos are five times more likely to generate customer conversions.
- Repost stories along with encouraging comments
- Never stop asking for participation
- Mine customer reviews for topics
Word-of-mouth transformed into social media posts is the most trusted form of marketing content, and rightly so. It’s not sponsored. Best yet for you, it’s free. It’s engaging and most of your customers will appreciate it if you select their content to be highlighted. But do ask for their permission first.
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