Social Media for Cannabis: A How-To Guide
Our first cannabis-related Instagram account was a hit. In less than a month, we were celebrating more than 1,000 followers and daily website referrals in the triple digits. But we weren’t surprised- there was great imagery, engaging content, and a large demographic of highly interested consumers at our disposal. Our strategy was playing out faster than we ever could have hoped, and we felt on top of the world! Then the page was shut down.
A New Approach to Social Media Marketing
It’s a rude awakening that most cannabis entrepreneurs will face at one time or another. Because, in a lot of ways, marketing marijuana & hemp is very different from marketing any other product or service.
More regulations on cannabis businesses = a higher risk in marketing. That means every single thing you do needs to be carefully calculated. Like most other cannabis brands, we had failed to realize that- in this industry- you can’t just jump in like you would with any other business. Instead, the best approach is to ease your way into social media marketing, making sure all of your bases are covered along the way.
Preparing for Social Media Marketing
Before you even start posting on social platforms, you will need a strong foundation to support your efforts.
Choose Your Platforms
First, you will need to choose which platforms you’d like to be active on. I suggest starting with two “mainstream” accounts (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and at least one cannabis-friendly account (such as Massroots, GreenMix, or Duby). While your mainstream accounts are always subject to being taken down, a cannabis friendly page is unlikely to ever be lost. But mainstream platforms will still put you in front of more customers, and you don’t want to exhaust yourself with too many pages too early on!
Create a Backup of Mainstream Accounts
Since Facebook, Twitter, and others still include medical & recreational marijuana in their list of “illegal activities”, all cannabusinesses posting to mainstream accounts are at risk of being shut down. That’s why you’ll want to have a backup! Many cannabis brands are already doing this with secondary accounts, or “backup accounts”. For example, one of our clients has two Instagram accounts: one of them is
public and the other is private. The same content gets posted to both, but in the event that one page is shut down, the business still has another that can pick up where it left off.
Another option is to create an internal backup. Our team saves a copy of every Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn post to our file-sharing platform. If any of our company pages ever gets turned off, we already have a full history of the images, links & content saved and ready to be posted again! How to set up your own social media backup(s) is your choice, but in this case it’s much better to be safe than sorry!
Strategize Your Social Activity
When it comes to social media, consistency is key. Set a game plan that will allow you to post consistently, but that’s also reasonable within your existing schedule. My suggestion is to start slow, building up volume over time. This won’t just help ease you into the habit of posting on a regular basis, it will also reduce the number of “red flags” that mainstream platforms are looking for with newer accounts.
These are our recommended minimum # of posts per platform:
⁃ Facebook: 1 per week
⁃ Instagram: 1 per week
⁃ Twitter: 1 per day
⁃ LinkedIn: 1 per week
⁃ Google+: 2 per month
⁃ Snapchat: 2 per week
⁃ Pinterest: 3 per week
Once you know how often you plan on posting, make sure you have enough assets & content to get through at least the first three weeks of your social media strategy!
Starting Social Accounts
Now you’re ready to start posting to social media pages, so go ahead and open the accounts (if you haven’t already)!
Optimize Your Accounts
First, take the time to optimize your pages with business information. This is the first place that customers will look to understand what your business is about, so make it interesting and be sure to include any important keywords or product info! (Depending on your state, there may be disclaimers or other legal information, like a minimum age requirement, that should be listed on your social media pages as well.)
Schedule Regular Posts
You don’t need to worry about posting to your accounts every single time you want to share content. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer will let you schedule posts days- and even weeks- beforehand! If you’ve followed this guide, you will already have three weeks worth of posts to schedule. From there on out, set aside one day every week to schedule new content and imagery.
Engage With Your Network
Getting your first 200 followers is the most difficult, because people are more likely to follow pages that other people are following. This is called “social proof”. The good news is that you already have a network that WILL want to engage with you: current business affiliates, staff members, family, and friends. Kickstart your follower counts by inviting these people to join first!
Growing Social Media Followers
As a cannabis-related business, growing your social pages should be a long-term approach. Gaining too many followers too fast can prompt these platforms to review your page, often resulting in being shut down. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be trying to get new followers, however. Counting
your personal network, a good goal would be to gain about 10% of your follower count every week to start.
So if your network counts for 30 followers, your first week’s goal should be another 3. How can you do this? By engaging with the online community and continuing to post quality, interesting content.
Optimize Content & Hashtags
Each platform is set up a bit differently, but they all have an option to search. This means that you should be creating content that comes up for relevant searches as well. By using the right keywords, phrases, and/or hashtags, you will help interested people find your posts. If they’re really interested, they’ll even follow you to stay in the loop!
Make Time for Social Outreach
The internet is a vast ocean with millions of users, so how is anyone going to find out about your page if they’re not immediately looking for it? They’re not. So you have to go out and find them. Set aside 20-30 minutes every day to research hashtags, similar profiles, and/or groups to find users that may be interested in your business. Then engage them with a like or comment! Many users may not respond, but if you’re targeting the right people, many of them will- and may even follow your page in order to keep seeing updates from your brand.
Follow4Follow is the practice of following a large number of accounts at once in hopes that they follow you back. While this approach seems to work in the short-term, it will do little to help you make sales or even engage with your audience. With optimization and social outreach, you are enticing people to follow your page because they’re interested- not because they feel obligated. When that happens, they will continue to like & comment on your posts because they’re actually interested. They may even convert into a customer!
But if they just followed you out of obligation, they’re unlikely to do either. And when you’re a cannabis business needing to maintain slow, steady growth, any useless followers are just a waste of time.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Give Up!
As a marijuana-related business, chances are high that at least one of your social platforms will be shut down at some point. It’s discouraging, but avoiding social media altogether will only hurt your business’s success even more! Since education and exposure are the keys to progressing the movement to full
cannabis legalization, It’s important that we all continue to showcase our brands in the public eye. A legal industry should be allowed a legal social presence, and as long as we’re professional about it, who can really be offended? So if/when you get shut down, start right back up again! (Now you’ll even have
backups to make it easier.) And if you need any help getting started or troubleshooting a problem with your social media efforts, our team at KindTyme is always happy to help.
Message from Direct Cannabis Network: Each week we will be introducing our contributor partners who will be providing you with valuable insight to help you grow your business. This week we are introducing Kindtyme. Kindtyme is a top-shelf digital design for the cannabis industry. Custom websites, graphics, photography, and technology for marketing all types of marijuana businesses. This week they are sharing their insight on Social Media for Cannabis.
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