Social media is important for cannabis brands. But, the ways to approach social media and reasons to do that often surprise owners of cannabis brands.
Paid social and most other paid advertising opportunities are off the menu for cannabis brands. Yet social media is a powerful tool for cannabis businesses today, because it’s an effective way to communicate directly with customers. Social media lets your dispensary or cannabis brand develop a community and start meaningful conversations.
But social media is not a core business driver in cannabis—at least not yet.
Strict regulations on social are a never-ending battle for cannabis brands. Just by having an account, most brands are in violation of the terms of the platform. And while every brand, including cannabis brands, wants to dominate on social, that’s just not possible for most.
Given how restricted other forms of marketing and advertising are for cannabis brands, social media is still critical in this space. Unfortunately, with a single wrong move or judgment from a moderator, the reality is that even the most successful cannabis brand’s social media account can disappear overnight. And some platforms are easier overall for cannabis brands than others.
In this post we’ll cover the basics for cannabis brands and social media, including some of the details about the major platforms, how they work for cannabis brands, and which are the best overall.
Social Platforms for Cannabis Brands
Facebook is highly restrictive toward cannabis brands, and in general reins them in carefully. It is not yet a fruitful space for most brands.
Twitter is probably the least restrictive of the big social platforms for cannabis brands. But although Twitter doesn’t tend to come down as hard on cannabis accounts as other platforms do, the live action in convoluted threads and limited characters aren’t the best for most marketing projects.
Instagram is owned by Facebook. But although it shares many of Facebook’s same restrictive cannabis content positions, Instagram remains a favorite big social media platform among cannabis brands. The platform’s demographics and its focus on beautiful visuals are the main reasons for this matchup.
For a cannabis brand to succeed on Instagram, its account must entertain or educate its followers. Staying organically engaging this way takes too much work for many, but it’s excellent for B2C cannabis social media.
Clubhouse, first iOS only but expanding to Android users, is among the most cannabis-friendly social platforms. This audio-only platform gives cannabis companies a chance to build their brand, easily reach new audiences, and connect with them. You can network, learn about any number of cannabis topics, search for investors, find cannabis influencers, or even hang out in a smoke sesh. It’s all live, so you have to be there. In other words, this takes a lot of time and effort.
TikTok also continues to get more popular, both generally and among cannabis brands. It has stricter guidelines than some other platforms, and you can’t use cannabis specific hashtags without getting your content removed. (Many users get around these problems with emojis and spellings like #cannabiiiis and #ouid.)
On TikTok dispensaries and cannabis brands need to both entertain and educate, but it’s okay to do just one at a time if that works for the brand. Many budtenders and dispensary owners create interesting educational videos sharing industry insights into edibles, medical cards, new products, strains, terpenes, and more. Search hashtags like #budtender or #dispensarylife to see what these people are sharing.
Why Cannabis Brands Need Social
Most brands—if they create truly excellent content—still reach only a small fraction of their audience on most social media platforms. Without stellar content, reach is even poorer. But algorithms and sheer numbers are the enemy of even the best content, and hashtags are a limited tool.
But cannabis brands still need to be on social media—because it’s a potentially unlimited direct-to-consumer digital platform. The key is putting in the hard, targeted work, and staying realistic. Oh, and creating amazing content.
What makes social media content amazing?
Don’t focus on selling. Focus on offering value. Cannabis businesses operate in an increasingly busy field. They must learn how to strategically market to target demographics and prove value to their potential customers. The real value to the business in spending the time to nurture a community on social is in building a bridge that brings that community into your location.
But this is tricky for cannabis brands, because cannabis e-commerce is not allowed on social media. This means targeted content has to do more than get people to engage with a link or like a post. The goal is to create content that convinces people to sign up for newsletters or brings them to a brick-and-mortar location. If they can’t just click a link, you have to get them to take other action.
Customers decide what makes content amazing, valuable, and shareable. They’ll reward you with engagement when your content is good enough. Engagement is all the platforms look for, other than no broken rules.
Maybe your followers love funny memes or cute pictures; maybe instead they go for more upscale lifestyle content. Just remember not to violate community guidelines, including in images.
Consider these possibilities for cannabis content:
- Aspirational imagery depicting a cannabis adjacent lifestyle
- Behind the scenes looks at grow operations, manufacturing, etc.
- Expert recommendations and advice from budtenders
- General cannabis and product education
- Memes for cannabis fans
- Tips and tricks for consumption
Let your followers be your guide while staying realistic. Even the best content only goes so far.
There is not just one big algorithm that controls what people see on social. Instead, it’s a very complex process, where a variety of classifiers, algorithms, and processes work together to enhance user experience. Most of them focus on creating a more personalized experience for users—so that’s what you should work to create with your content.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Brands and Social
It’s not easy for a cannabis brand to thrive on social, but it’s not impossible either. No matter how you feel about it, though, your brand needs to be where the customers are.