Part 1 of our How to Market Your Cannabis Business series covered some general marketing do’s and don’ts, while Part 2 explored some traditional marketing channel opportunities and Part 3 touched upon digital marketing and advertising strategies. In this installment, we’ll cover social media tactics for cannabis businesses.
Social media is an aspect of digital marketing, but it’s a powerful enough channel that it deserves its own set of considerations. Because many social media platforms prohibit paid cannabis advertising due to the substance’s Schedule I designation and federal illegality, your business may need to get creative and persistent with organic tactics. Don’t be deterred, though — the landscape is continuing to shift as the industry grows, so marketing opportunities will likely get better once these platforms become more comfortable with changing laws.
In the meantime, here are some suggestions for making the most of your social media efforts that don’t involve paid advertising:
Find Out Where Your Audience Is and Engage With Them There
There are so many popular social media platforms out there that it can feel overwhelming. A quick rundown of the most popular channels include the following:
- Facebook — The 800-lb gorilla of social media platforms, Facebook is a broad platform that offers a lot of options, from custom tabs to integration with other social media platforms. Think of your Facebook page as a mini version of your website — you can post your location, hours of operation, images, news updates, articles, and any other information that your audience will find valuable.
- Twitter — Twitter allows for real-time messaging, whether it’s text, images, or video links, shared 140 characters at a time. Post news updates, articles, deals and specials, questions to your followers — you can play around with different messaging to see what resonates.
- Instagram — This platform is image-driven and quite popular among the cannabis community, so we recommend setting up an account. Share beautiful pictures of your products, your business, and any other imagery that both reflects your brand and will resonate with the cannabis community.
- YouTube — Drive video marketing efforts on YouTube. If you don’t have a budget or the bandwidth for video right now, don’t worry about this platform just yet. We do, however, recommend you snag your brand’s user name and create a YouTube channel if you can; that way, when you are ready to dive into video marketing, you don’t run the risk of having lost your brand’s YouTube page to someone else who was quicker to register it.
- LinkedIn — Also known as the professional’s social media platform, LinkedIn is great for posting business updates, job openings, and finding business communities in your niche that you can potentially partner or negotiate deals with.
- Pinterest — If your brand is especially appealing among females, you may want to check out Pinterest, which is four times as popular among women as men. This platform also boasts an audience across a wide demographic, from Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers. Create category-specific boards and pin images, products, infographics, recipes, and other content that appeals to the Pinterest audience.
If you can’t devote a decent amount of time to each platform, try to register your name across all of them and focus your initial efforts on the heavy-hitters like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can make things easier for yourself and post a variation of the same message across different platforms, but keep in mind that the audience will vary slightly from one site to the next, so carbon copying your content may make you look a bit spammy and inattentive.
Adopt a Voice That’s Human, Professional, and Reflects Your Brand
It’s tempting to use social media for your business as you would for personal use, but you need to keep in mind that any content or tone your brand adopts is a direct reflection of your business. 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 overly serious robot. Keep your messaging aligned with your company’s aesthetic — if your brand is playful, adopt a bit of a whimsical tone. If you’re a law firm, accounting business, or a similar professional institution, err on the side of being more straightforward and educational (although a little friendliness and humor would go a long way in showing your audience that your brand has a human side to it). When posting messages, say “We” instead of I” to make it clear that the content is coming from the brand itself, not an individual.
Use Your Compelling Content to Engage, Educate, and Entertain Your Online Community
Share the content that makes your brand special. Whether you’re writing articles, snapping pictures of your products or your grow rooms, or sharing industry strategies, show your audience that your brand has a lot of compelling content to offer. Try a mix of content to keep your audience interested. Poll them to see what sort of information they’d like you to share, and deliver what they ask for (within reason, of course).
Use Hashtags Effectively for Better Message Visibility
Hashtags are a great way to track social engagement across multiple platforms, and there are different services you can use that show you how much traction a particular hashtag receives. You don’t need to pepper 10-20 hashtags in each message, but a couple strategic hashtags will go a long way. Do some research to see which hashtags resonate among your community or your industry and try to incorporate them periodically throughout your messaging.
Partner With Other Brands to Cross-Promote and Increase Your Audience
This can be paid, through mutual trade, or some other arrangement, but no matter the agreement, you’ll want to look for businesses and individuals that fit well with your brand and have influence to offer by way of their following. Tap into each other’s audience to expand your following and broaden your reach.
Engage With Your Audience When They Reach Out to You
When you respond to people who engage with your business online, you create a positive association with that individual that you’re truly listening to what they have to stay. Be prompt, professional, friendly, and empathetic — your responses are visible to the entire world, so if you lose your patience and get into a heated exchange with a disgruntled customer or follower, it’ll create ripples that may result in others forming an unfavorable opinion of you. If, however, you kill your followers with kindness and patience, they’ll be more likely to engage with your brand, come to your business, and endorse you by word-of-mouth.
Let the Data Guide Your Strategy
Look at your social media metrics to see which posts are resonating with your audience. This data will offer insight into what kind of posts your network is responding to, as well as the optimized days and times to interact with your followers. Whenever your audience grows, revisit your strategies for optimizing the type and timing of content.
In Part 5 of our Cannabis Business Marketing series, we discuss tactics around how to participate in and get the most out of cannabis events and sponsorships.