Social media is woven into the very fabric of our lives. More importantly, it's a critical aspect of our customer's lives and since our goal is to be where our customers are we must get comfortable on different social media platforms.
Mainstream social media; sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are integral marketing channels for any brand but for a cannabis brand the game has entirely different rules. Federally, cannabis is still prohibited in the United States where all of these social media sites are based which means that the content that you post is almost certainly in contravention of community guidelines. This means that you run the very real risk of having your profiles deleted which is especially frustrating for brands that have built a significant following. Dixie Elixirs had their Facebook page shut down last February and lost 11,000 fans. Lift Cannabis has had their Instagram page removed several times, most notably right before a huge Lift Cannabis Expo that drew tens of thousands of people.
There are a couple of ways to help safeguard against losing all your hard won fans. They aren't ideal solutions but they're suggestions that are worth taking a look at.
1) Have A Back Up Account
Create multiple accounts and profiles. List the back up account in your bio so that people follow both and in the event of a shut down the damage is minimized.
2) Keep It Private
Instagram allows for private pages. Private pages are annoying for fans of your brand but most people who follow cannabis brands on social will understand why you are keeping your profile on lockdown. Note: If you decide to go the private route make a point of checking in regularly. You do not want to make fans wait to get access to your awesome content.
3) Look For Alternatives
Some cannabis friendly social media sites are:
Join the Her(B) Life email list - we send out a round up of cannabis related headlines every week and when we have full reviews of these sites we'll be sure to send out the links.
Cannabis Brand Advertising
If you spend money advertising on Facebook or Instagram you probably know the frustration of having ads not approved and having very little recourse. Even in Canada and other countries where medical cannabis has been legal for some time, legal medical companies have a hard time with advertising. Sometimes marketers are able to argue that they are targeting people in a state or country that allows cannabis, other times they're not so lucky.
My own experience has shown me that the wording in a Facebook ad must be very specifically benign. If I use the word "cannabis" it must be accompanied by the word "medical" and must be specifically targeted to Canadians (where medical cannabis is federally legal). Ideally "cannabis" is a text overlay on the ad's image (while still maintaining 20% or less text) rather than copy in the headline or ad text. It seems that Facebook ad approval is subjective to whomever is working that day and I can't tell if they scan the text/image or use a bot to look for certain words. Sometimes an ad is approved immediately and sometimes ads that are far less cannabis-y get flagged. Sometimes I can challenge the disapproval but often when you challenge Facebook your queries go unanswered. There is never a person that you can talk to, you are just writing to a nameless/faceless Facebook worker who may or may not agree with you.
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