• Jeffrey Harris

How to grow your dispensary’s Instagram following



We are in a truly digital age, which is why having a robust digital-marketing plan should be top priority for all marketers. Of the various digital-marketing strategies, social media marketing has proven itself to be extremely effective, especially in times like these where the world is practically living online. Even before COVID, 90% of marketers said that social media marketing generated “immense” exposure. Just imagine the kind of exposure you can get on social media now.

In previous articles we have discussed just how effective social media marketing can be, but in this article we will be focusing on Instagram specific marketing tactics. While there are many social media platforms in which cannabis dispensaries can build a following on and make a name for themselves, Instagram stands out above the rest as a way to increase your online presence and raise brand awareness.


Instagram is special because it allows you to grab your audience with eye-catching pictures while also connecting with them through captions and keeping in touch with them in the comments. What makes it even more powerful are instagram’s stories where you can give your customers a special behind the scenes look into your dispensary. All of this allows you to not only build brand awareness but to also build a voice and personality for your dispensary which will ultimately lead to customers or potential customers identifying with you, following your business, and hopefully purchasing your products. It’s important to note here that your goal isn’t to increase sales on instagram, but to build awareness. With more brand awareness (and some patience) the sales will come.


1 billion people use Instagram every month and 500 million people use Instagram’s stories daily. That means the potential reach you’ll have on the platform could be huge. Of these users, a whopping 63% log-in at least once a day according to the Pew Research Center. That means you’ll have the opportunity to connect with your customer base at least once a day.


Eager to see how to grow your following on Instagram and take advantage of the benefits of organic marketing on instagram? Then keep reading because in this article we will be discussing tips that will help you take advantage of Instagram and grow your following during the pandemic. In this we will touch on…


  • Posting regularly about business essentials

  • The importance of a post schedule

  • Identifying and targeting your target audience

  • Instagram stories and live

  • Frequent calls-to-action

  • Influencer marketing

  • Utilizing your other marketing channels

  • Instagram Don’ts

Let’s jump in by first discussing some of the easiest and most important posts you’ll make: posts about your dispensary’s basic operation details.


Post regularly about business essentials


Regardless of how many followers you have, you should always be mindful of newer customers and post regularly about general store details such as…


  • Your store hours and location

  • Delivery or pick-up options

  • Website URL so they can learn more

  • Text-to-join or scan-to-join codes

  • Phone number


Also, make sure that new customers that may be viewing your page for the first time can also find a majority of this information in your bio. But just be sure to not mention anything about cannabis in your bio to avoid being flagged.


Make a post schedule


A post schedule is crucial to having an effective Instagram presence as it ensures that you remain consistent with quality posts. You subscribers won’t stick around if you aren’t consistent with your post. If you fail to post for weeks or months at a time, your subscribers will more than likely go find a dispensary or page that does post weekly and puts out content regularly. Making sure you have a content strategy that includes a post schedule for every month or quarter can help you and your dispensary stay on top of your posts and keep your customers engaged.


Make sure your posts target your target audience


When using Instagram, it is important to keep in mind who your target audience is. While you may already have a specific target audience in mind, Instagram’s platform leds itself well to marketing to both Gen X and millennials. In fact 75% of 18-24 year olds and 57% of 25-30 year olds use Instagram. These age groups likely make up a majority of your target audience and thus it would be best to make sure that your posts are more often than not aimed at these demographics.


In saying this, it is always important to stick to the voice your existing customers associate with your brand. If your company voice is more professional and educational, then stick to that. If your company voice is more playful and lax, then stick to that.


Instagram Stories and Live


Like we said above, over 500 million people view Instagram stories daily. Not only that, but 62% of people say that they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.


Instagram stories are especially powerful because they allow you to put up content that is less rehearsed and shows the humanity in your dispensary. It allows you to give your audience behind the scenes looks into your dispensary’s operations and lets you highlight specific aspects such as your employees, a special event you're having, and more.


Instagram live is especially useful during COVID because it allows you to connect with your audience in real time. That means you can stream special events at your dispensary online so even customers who aren’t physically can still feel like they are a part of your dispensary’s community.


Call-to-action


Making sure that each of your posts, or at least most of them, have a clear call to action is crucial to generating leads for your business. As we will discuss below, it is against policy to sell cannabis on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you can’t link to your website where you can sell cannabis.

You can also include things such as text-to-join or scan-to-join codes that take your followers off of Instagram and either opt them into receiving text message marketing campaigns from your dispensary or joining your dispensary’s loyalty rewards program. Other things you could link to are things such as blogs or videos you made as a part of your dispensary’s content marketing strategy.


Recruit influencers


Like we said above, the world has been living online as a result of the pandemic. This means that people are going to be paying even more attention to influencers. Influencer marketing turns your loyal customers or followers into your top advocates by enabling them to share promotional posts of your brand to their social networks in exchange for benefits at your dispensary or compensation.


This type of marketing has become extremely popular, and for good reason, it has proven itself to be extremely effective. For starters, it has the potential to yield an impressive ROI, with studies finding that on average businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Instagram itself has proven itself to be the most effective platform for influencer marketing, with a recent survey finding that 79% of individuals considered Instagram as the most important platform for their influencer marketing, followed by Facebook at 46% and YouTube at 36%.


Springbig can help you take advantage of influencer marketing with Budz, as we have discussed in our other articles. Interested in learning how? Click here.


Utilize your other marketing channels


While this may seem pretty basic, incorporating your instagram @ within your other marketing channels can help drive traffic to your Instagram’s page and help make the most out of your marketing efforts. That means attaching Instagram and other social media icons to your company logo so that customers know that you're active on social media.


Whether it’s a blog post, a native ad, or another online-marketing tactic, attaching your Instagram and other social media icons you hope to be found on is a must.


Instagram don’ts

If you’re able to implement the above into a comprehensive instagram strategy, then you’re almost certain to raise awareness and gain followers during the pandemic. But, you have to be careful. Instagram has strict guidelines prohibiting the sale and promotion of cannabis. According to their policy:


“Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts.”


Because of this, there are a couple of things you won’t want to include in your social media content in order to make sure your account is not flagged or taken down:


  • Don’t post pictures of product

There is some wiggle room here - while to be safe we would suggest that you don’t post pictures of your products and instead post pictures of your team, business, customers, and events, you may be able to post pictures of your products. But if you do, it is at your own discretion. That being said, you can avoid your post being flagged if you are going to post your products by making sure that your caption doesn’t mention anything about cannabis, marijuana, or any other variants of the name. At the end of the day, it’s completely up to you and you can build a substantial following no matter which way you go.

  • Don’t list prices or try to sell ANYTHING

Instagram specifically states that selling or attempting to sell drugs on the platform is against policy. While cannabis is widely accepted by many, it is still a schedule-1 drug federally and thus it is against policy to attempt to sell cannabis on instagram or even to link to your dispensary’s inventory page.

  • Don’t put ANYTHING about cannabis in your bio

Your bio will be the first introduction people have to you page, so you’ll want it to stand out and adhere to the voice you choose for your brand, but you want to make sure you don’t mention cannabis, weed, marijuana, or any other variant of the name in it. You’ll also want to make sure that your bio mentions that your content is for users 21+ to make sure you are adhering to Instagram’s guidelines.


While it may seem difficult to be a dispensary that doesn’t post pictures of cannabis, you’ll find there are still tons of options when it comes to posting such as posting about your loyalty program, posting about your employees, discussing store operations, educational content, and more.


Recap


Instagram is crucial to any digital marketing strategy. If you are able to adhere to the above tips, then you’ll surely be on your way to growing your followers on Instagram and increasing brand awareness despite the adverse effects of COVID. By regularly communicating details about your dispensary’s operations, making a post schedule, Utilizing instagram stories and instagram live, including calls to action in your posts, and ensuring you avoid anything that could get your account flagged, your Instagram account will be set to explode.





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