How Cannabis Brands Can Advertise On Social Media (without getting banned)

Cannabis Marketing has drastically changed over the last decade.

It started as an underground and illegal industry that evolved into one of the fastest growing opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs around the world.

The next 10 – 20 years for the cannabis industry could resemble the exponential growth that alcohol had in the United States post prohibition.

Money talks and even large global brands like Coca-Cola have begun looking into developing a range of cannabis and CBD infused products.

However, even as cannabis becomes more mainstream, you still need to be cautious marketing your marijuana brand and company. Rules and regulations concerning cannabis marketing can vary greatly from from place to place and platform to platform.

This can be difficult for traditional marketers who can’t rely on tactics they would normally use that might be effective in other industries.

Regardless of these restrictions, savvy brands and marketers have found ways to get around anti-cannabis policies regarding advertising and PPC on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

This is no surprise since cannabis brands have constantly needed to invent new and creative methods of guerilla advertising.

Advertising Your Cannabis Company on Social Media

The rules for cannabis advertising are constantly changing and can be unclear as to what gets banned and what does not. Social media companies such as Facebook & Youtube have developed strict policies governing advertising that can result in banned pages and ads without any explanation. It can be difficult to keep track of the changes as a business owner and it can be advantageous to hire out your social media management.

Marijuana brands must be persistent and continue to challenge the status quo, while still trying to play by the rules. As a rule of thumb — when in doubt, opt for education material over sales.

We will discuss a few of the ways you can avoid social media bans and restrictions to grow your following and brand.

Get Influencers to DO the heavy lifting

Whether you’re just starting your social media accounts or starting over because your original account has been band — spread the word through the use of popular cannabis influencers on Facebook and Instagram. Identify influencers with an engaged audience and utilize more local accounts with smaller followings. Going right for the biggest fish will likely be expensive and if they aren’t part of your local community the message may fall on deaf ears.

Using influencers has a few advantages:

First, your target customer is way more likely to follow other people than they are a brand. Having someone to be an ambassador for a brandthat already has an established following is way easier than personifying and growing your follower count on your own.

Second, social media loves when friends recommend a company to another friend — in fact, it’s encouraged by the algorithms and the social media platforms rarely take action against individual influencers advertising and recommending cannabis products.

Create and Promote Entertaining Branded Content

Another way that your cannabis company can subvert the Facebook advertising system is through the production and distribution of your own branded media content.

Pages such as Herb who are a subsidiary of cannabis brand Caviar Gold advertise themselves as a home for cannabis videos. They allow the advertisement of cannabis products and brands via the method of product placement in regular news stories and entertainment pieces.

Stories about your experiences with your cannabis products and educational content will help you “hide” your brand in a variety of different posts that social media platforms will not view as violating their rules.

This weed commercial is a hilarious parody of pharmaceutical advertisements

The about video from media brand NowThisIsWeed showcases a small weed delivery company, under the guise of a news story or entertainment piece.

The video has been shared over 125,000 times with over 8 MILLION views. You can be certain that this marketing play has generated a huge amount of traffic for the small firm, especially considering the small amount of investment needed to hit such a large audience.

Capitalize on mainstream news

Your cannabis brand can attach your narrative and posts to social causes. Stay informed on the latest cannabis legislation and spread awareness of the proposed policies. This will give your brand authority status and you can begin outreach to local news outlets that will feature you as the expert.

Utilizing this technique will allow your to boost your brand because it is a “news story” and therefore allowed on the Facebook marketing platform

Now, as the discussion around cannabis continues, several media opportunities will present themselves to budding entrepreneurs who wish to have their say in the debate, and gain some free media time for there trouble, as cannabis becomes increasingly normalised across the world.

Final Thoughts

As the rules that govern advertising in the cannabis industry are still in a somewhat confusing and complicated state, it’s hard to convey 100% accurate guidelines for cannabis brands who wish to do market their company using Facebook advertising and social media.

However, with high risk comes high rewards and if you are aware of the potential drawbacks, it is advised to follow these simple rules:

  • Avoid directly advertising prices or promotional discounts
  • Be careful with the language used in your posts (Think to use words like “flowers” over “buds”)
  • Don’t provide a direct way for users to order products but rely on SEO for them to search your brand name after an awareness campaign
  • Partner with a third-party media publisher like Vice News, Leafly or Herb to create branded content that is strictly considered “newsworthy” and not directly “promotional”
  • Work with influencers who like your products and are willing to share with their communities, think musicians, comedians or podcasts that regularly advertises cannabis products such as CBD, edibles and strains

Social media campaigns can be very difficult for the cannabis industry. Remember, focus on engaging and education content. Begin laying a solid social media foundation and as the rules and regulations begin to loosen up, you’ll find yourself far ahead of the competition.

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