Social Media Marketing for the Cannabis Industry
As we get further into the 2000s, we can take a look at the world around us and compare it to the recesses of our memory.
Needless to say there are some stark differences, but if you were to ask anyone about one thing that stands out about today's world, their answer would have to be social media.
Once dismissed as a childish hobby for teenagers and try-hards, something that started off so trivial has become a fixture in society like Starbucks and Uber. (Remember when we weren't supposed to get into cars with strangers?)
As much as we hate/envy celebrities, there used to be a skill involved in order to be one. Athletes, artists, actors, etc.; say what you want about them, but what you couldn't say was they were talentless. Enter social media and suddenly, regular old people with an iPhone have become "celebrity brand ambassadors" that seem to be integral to some companies' digital advertising campaigns because they... post a photo from a music festival with a #lit?
Leave it to humanity to latch onto such a ridiculous trend, but almost half of the world's population is online, so naturally, us over here in the cannabis business have to adopt new marketing tactics to keep up with today’s ever-evolving dispensary technology.
cannabis social media by the numbers
There are many perks to adding social media marketing to your overall dispensary marketing strategy, and not just looking cute for the Discover page. Brand awareness, customer service, local SEO, and brand loyalty, among other metrics, are feeling all the love because of social media marketing. Especially for cannabis brands, because of the barriers they face in using traditional marketing channels. According to research by Blue Fountain Media:
90% of marketers say social media marketing generated “immense” exposure
75% say it increased traffic, either online or in store
Brings 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing
~60% of marketers who’ve used social media for a year still see improved search engine rankings for their brand (Social Media Examiner)
62% of millennials (a.k.a. a big chunk of your target audience) say they would be more loyal to a brand that engages with them on social media
People love to be recognized, especially by the brands they enjoy using. Just being active on social media will show you care about what's being said about your brand- good, bad or otherwise.
Engaging with your customers will give an added sense of humanity behind your brand, a smiling face and listening ear behind that fire product. Every interaction is a display of passion for your customers and potential customers, telling them how much their business and input means to you.
Even if its negative input- especially if its negative input- responding to it directly will put you in a positive light because customers see you actively trying to better your brand by engaging with your customer base and fulfilling their needs - not something a lot of retail cannabis brands can say.
Why all the fuss about dispensary customer relations? Because it all leads to a big boost in word of mouth marketing, and in turn, customer loyalty, something worth quite a bit more than the $0.00 it costs to post a photo promoting your brand.
Entire business and industries are run through social media, with entire marketing strategies hinging on Instagram posts (trust us, better than email marketing). So let springbig cannabis CRM show you how to use them harmoniously with your dispensary marketing plan (or stop reading and book a demo so we can really show you).
cannabis market growth shows social media’s value...
As you're probably well aware, the state of the cannabis industry is one of constant change. Legalization around the country is only growing, and with it, the amount of cannabis users: "Within just the last five years, cannabis purchase and use has grown by 25%", with the number of users rising 85% from 2009 to 123 million in '17. And as legalization and popularity grow, so will the size of the pie we're all bidding for a piece of forecasts project the cannabis industry to enjoy revenues of about $24 billion by 2025.
That's with a 'b'.
That's all great news for cannabis retailers, but with all this growth comes an influx of regulations for cannabis marketing. Marketing laws vary from state to state, and sometimes even from one municipality to the other, so marketers are forced to come up with marketing ideas for dispensaries that aren’t exactly traditional ways to promote their cannabis brand, often settling on experiential marketing or content marketing to relate to their customers.
cannabis social media rules and regulations
But that’ll be for a different day. Now we're going to focus on the guidelines on Instagram/Facebook's policy concerning marketing cannabis products and dispensaries. A challenging trapeze course to navigate through in its own right. because the guidelines are frustratingly vague (maybe deliberately so),and if violated, Instagram will often take down your post on the first infraction, followed by disabling your account on the second, so it's important to understand the framework you'll have to work around.
Instagram's community guidelines concerning marijuana marketing are as follows:
"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."
So, cannabis brands and dispensaries are completely prohibited from using Instagram's ad networks and even organic posts to flex what they’ve got. You can't display your cannabis dispensary's location or phone number, nor can you encourage your followers to buy your product.
Notice something they didn't outlaw? Displaying your website, and that's the loophole you should be taking advantage of.
Drive traffic to your website with posts about promotions and sales, (i.e. last week we had BOGO on KingPens. Wish you knew about it? Enroll in our loyalty program to receive text message updates on all the latest promotions, use the link in our bio to be the first to hear about these deals!") but funnel it through the guise of promoting your dispensary’s loyalty program to avoid any problems with Instagram shutting your page down.
There’s not much wiggle room to workaround, but it’ll have to do until the stigma surrounding cannabis is lifted. But, things aren’t as they used to be- that much we know. And as much as we hate to admit, the booming economy of “social influencers” and #dumbhashtags still serve a purpose, however tight we may clench our teeth as we continue to deal with it. But soon enough, this too shall pass and another dumb trend will come along and turn the world upside down...again. Except this time, we’ll be ready for it.