Trying to promote your cannabis business through traditional channels can be an exercise in frustration. There are federal laws against advertising on TV and Radio, and advertising opportunities, in general are extremely limited. Laws also vary across states, making things even more difficult. However, successfully promoting your cannabis business through social media can be done. Many cannabis business owners are turning to social media as a channel for getting the word out about their business.
There are a few social media best practices to follow that will give your cannabis business the best chance at leveraging these popular platforms. If we had to summarize social media best practices for cannabis business owners in six phrases, they would be:
- Create Value
- Be Creative
- Be Consistent
- Use Hashtags
- Appreciate your followers and encourage engagement
The following article will show practical uses of each best practice as well as inspire ideas for your next social media post.
Know Your Audience
A message to everyone is a message to no one. Be sure you know your audience and speak directly to them. This will help with building your online following and brand.
You likely already have an offline following of customers who frequently visit your dispensary. Do you know who they are and what they are interested in? If you haven't already started gathering that type of information, now is the time to start. Here are some of the things you can learn about your audience that will help you find them on social media.
- Do they attend industry events?
- Where do they find out about industry information?
- What are their concerns around cannabis use?
- What level of knowledge do they have about cannabis?
For more on how to find your ideal audience and convert them into customers, check out our post 5 Strategies to Acquire New Consumer Demographics.
The Main Social Media Channels
While it's optimal to post on all the channels that are relevant to your audience, it's important to note that it's not necessary to post on every channel. Start with one and slowly build out your channel distribution. You'll eventually find that you get better engagement on certain channels vs. others. Though there are many other social media channels (which we encourage you to look into), here's a quick rundown of the content for those considered to be the major three social media channels.
Facebook contains a mixture of long and short form posts on Facebook, though shorter posts typically perform better. Be sure your profile is fully built out, complete with images of your dispensary, hours of operation, website information and more.
1.19 billion monthly users – 59% of the users who 'like' a brand page do so because they have purchased or used the product or service.
Here are some additional things to consider:
- Include 1 to 2 hashtags per post.
- Reviews - Facebook enables customers to post reviews, so companies should monitor this feedback and use it to make changes to keep their customers happy.
- Linked Content - Because you can include hyperlinks in Facebook, it’s good to post content such as blog posts and event pages.
- You can refer to the Facebook guidelines.
Instagram is a visually-based social media platform. Some would argue that it is the most prevalent platform of our time and should be given the most attention. It is a great place to showcase your brand’s visual identity, dispensary culture, dispensary look and feel.
Get creative with your posts and align them with the interests of your audience – try providing some tips! Instead of creating a post about ‘How cannabis helps you sleep,’ try posting ‘5 tips to sleep better tonight,” to reach a new audience.
Some other creative posts include a ‘budtender showcase’ (where you can share fun facts about the budtender of the month), local city sites that your clients love, or events that your company has a presence at. Here are some additional things to consider for your posts:
- 10+ hashtags are appropriate per post.
- Linked Content - Do not include linked content, as Instagram posts do not support hyperlinks.
- Post frequency - Post less frequently than other platforms, but make sure when you do post, high quality.
- For more Instagram ideas and guidelines, you can refer to this article from our partner, Sherpa, who specializes in digital media for the cannabis industry.
Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact through messages. The content mostly consists of short, real-time messages. Here are some things to consider when creating Twitter posts:
- Include 1 to 2 hashtags per post.
- Demographics - 72% of active Twitter users are between 18-49 years old, with a slight majority of female users, at 55% female.
- Linked Content - Because you can include hyperlinks in Twitter, it’s good to post content such as blog posts and event pages.
- Post Frequency - You should post to Twitter more than any other platform. It’s appropriate to post multiple times a day.
- Engagement - Appreciate your followers by retweeting and liking their posts. This will incentivize your customers to react to your posts in return.
Tip: Use emojis whenever you can to increase social media engagement
You may have noticed that we included the number of suggested hashtags for each platform. This is because hashtags are such a great way for new audiences to find you on social media.
It is important to note that the use of hashtags varies somewhat across platforms. Therefore, we always recommend searching for the hashtag you intend to use for each platform, to ensure the content aligns with what you’re going for.
Here are some examples of hashtags you might use: #cannabiscommunity, #your_dispensary, #cannabisculture, #medicalcannabis, #cannabispatient, #marketingmonday, #motivationmonday, #transformationtuesday, #wellnesswednesday, #thoughtfulthursday, and #featurefriday.
Provide Value Through Education
Part of listening to your audience means posting content they care about. One area that is sure to be a hit is educational content about cannabis. This content provides value by teaching your followers something they didn't know about a topic they deeply care about. For cannabis specifically, posting helpful and informative content about the plant and product is key – especially for a new cannabis customer.
In the beginning, you might need to post content on a few different topics and see what your followers respond to. After a while, you should start getting feedback and can then better hone your topics to your audience's liking. Some ideas for content are: How to use cannabis for fitness and muscle recovery, the difference between CBD and THC, how people use micro-dosing, and how cannabis helps many people sleep.
Something to note is that not everyone is going to look for something ‘cannabis-specific,’ so it is smart to also post things like, "5 tips to sleep better tonight." Then cannabis can be one of those things, and link it to your online menu.
Remember that educational content isn't about sending out sales promotions, which can lead to getting red flagged or removed. For sales promotions, sending a text message is a better way to go. Learn more about how you can do that with Baker’s SMS Connect tool.
Inform Through Industry News
Most cannabis users are interested in the changing laws and how they will be affected. Knowing about current events within the industry is already something you should be on top of. Share this information with your followers as it pertains to them. Meaning, if none of your followers are from South Dakota, don't keep posting about the intricacies of South Dakota cannabis laws.
In addition, provide information, resources and updates that pertain to medical patients. This could include the latest requirements for becoming a medical marijuana patient in your state.
You'll set good expectations and build your brand by consistently posting on similar topics and using similar formats for each post. Certain colors and images in your posts will create a style specific to you. This style will also be part of your brand.
Try to stick with your overall theme and ‘mood.’ It will re-enforce who you are and attract the right followers. Is it witty, professional or inspirational? Keep the ‘mood’ and theme consistent across your profile picture, posts, and copy style.
You also need to apply consistency to the frequency of your posts. Determine how many posts per week you can commit to posting, and stick to it. It’s very important to maintain this frequency and to not stop posting just because you get busy. This also applies to certain post types. For example, if you decide to do a "budtender spotlight" where they share a tip, their favorite product, or their hobbies, don't stop after two posts. Do them weekly or monthly, and stick to that frequency.
Heavily promoting your deals and promos is not the most effective way to utilize social media. First, you risk getting red flagged or removed by social media platforms. Second, followers are looking for value rather than constantly being pitched to. Also try to stay away from heavily posting images of the plant, as it will not appeal to all audiences, and can lead to your page getting red flagged.
By following the above best practices, you'll soon get the hang of using social media to grow your cannabis business. These best practices aren't complex, but knowing them puts you ahead of your competition and offers the potential for big payoffs – especially if you are able to drive new audiences to your website’s online menu!