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Cannabis Banned on Social Media: Says Who?

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So what if you can’t explicitly advertise your cannabis on social media? There are other ways to use it and build your brand.

It hardly seems fair. You’ve got hundreds, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of followers on a social media platform. Yet, when you post something to share with them, only a fraction might see it – even though they’ve asked to see your posts.

Could there be a more frustrating algorithm in the world of social media? These social media platforms make money when they force us to pay for audiences we’ve already won. So, until you’re ready to buy Facebook, you’ve got to find ways around the organic algorithms. You’ve got to advertise.

But wait: Did you say you’re a cannabis company? Never mind. Most social media platforms prohibit cannabis advertising because cannabis is still illegal at the U.S. federal level. Game over. Or is it?

Who needs advertising on social media?

The answer is, because of algorithms, everybody. But you can still reach your target market organically if you do it right. It’s worth the effort. Where else will you have access to more than 3.48 billion people? How else can you capture the attention of the more than one million people who join social media every day?

No, you cannot directly advertise your cannabis products on most social platforms. You can’t even promote a product or service that’s related to cannabis. You can, however, publish educational content. You can’t buy awareness, but you can earn it.

Earned media is when people share your content and act as your brand ambassadors. And one thing we do know about social media algorithms is that they promote and share what’s promoted and shared by users.

More than half of buyers of all ages — Millennials (58.9%), Gen Xers (50.4%) and Baby Boomers (55%) — said they follow a brand on social media before purchasing a product. 71 percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to buy from a company with which they had a positive interaction.

Social media is the discovery zone. Successful marketing today is the act of making your brand discoverable.

Paint a picture

You must know who your target audience is before you can advertise to them on social media. That part doesn’t change when you create content for these platforms. What does change is your need to know their preferred content formats.

Video trumps all social media content formats, but you’ll run up against obvious obstacles if you have a complex story to tell on image-driven Instagram. It makes more sense to focus on content that shares your visual brand identity.

The name of the game is association. You can’t show your cannabis product, but you can associate a worldview with the use of your product by sharing visuals that allow people to relate to your brand.

Whether it’s Instagram or any of the other social media platforms, make sure your objectives for the post are specific and measurable. Create education and perspective that has a call to action (CTA). Your CTA holy grail is engagement — for two reasons:

You want prospects and customers to create deeper relationships with your brand.

You want to show the social media platform that people aren’t just paying attention to you, they’re creating conversations. That makes you valuable to these platforms because it proves your content increases the amount of time users spend on the platform.

Not a sales tool

Most social media platforms have a singular approach to what’s allowed in posts from cannabis brands: Do not sell. No prices. No promotion of sales.

Keep your content free of hard selling and focus instead on providing valuable information. Target your content so the message is specific to the demographic you want to reach. Start a story that a prospect or customer can jump into and tell the next chapter. You can’t incent them to engage in e-commerce, but you can enchant them or help them live vicariously through your brand identity by signing up for a newsletter, a webinar, or even visiting your brick-and-mortar location.

Cannabis use is quickly gaining popularity with older adults. Prospects and customers of every age want to find education and perspectives on cannabis products that match the intelligence and thoughtfulness of any other brand they use. They want real, relatable content, and they want to find likeminded people who share their beliefs. Social media helps you create that alignment with your cannabis brand.

Take a deeper dive into our unique perspective on cannabis marketing.

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