Spotlight Series: Stef Ostrander Founder of Cannabiz Social

All companies need a marketing plan to attract and retain customers, including cannabis companies. Social media is by far and away one of the most cost effective and creatively fun ways to connect and engage with customers regularly. However, creating a solid social media plan and executing on that plan is often easier said than done, particularly for small businesses and those just starting up. This is where Edmonton based CannaBiz Social comes in. 

"I see a great need for social media marketing in the world. Newspaper and magazines are becoming thinner with less circulation. Advertising, branding, marketing are all moving towards digital marketing." Ostrander says when asked why she founded CannaBiz Social, which launched in August of 2016 and serves the cannabis industry in both Canada and the US. 

The cannabis and hemp industry have long met in the safety of the net. This is where the hemp and cannabis market meets, informs, and supports.
— Stef Ostrander

Ostrander has been a long time advocate for legalization of cannabis because she sees prohibition as a waste of taxpayer money. "We have jammed packed prison systems... How many of those inmates in the last 50 years were users and low-level dealers keeping their families fed?" She says. "My friends that worked in law and for the court system would tell me how no cases would come across their desk that involved weed as the drug that fuelled violence, and crime. All those cases were usually alcohol or hard drug fuelled."

Pro-Legalization in A Conservative Province

cannabiz Social Stef Ostrander

As for being open about her pro-cannabis stance in a conservative province such as Alberta, Ostrander says "As rebel at heart, I stuck to my “I don’t care what people think” attitude and I give them the education they don’t have. When you are armed with investment, business projection and health articles and can speak intelligently, people will listen." She goes on to say " I am really surprised that I haven't had any negative experience on social media or over the phone with people. In fact, it's surprised me how many people over 45 have spoken really positively about cannabis. So many people have a positive family/friends related story of healing with cannabis. Then, of course, there's the business people who see a lot of opportunity, they are very hungry for this and they are waiting at the starting line, with oil investment money to spend on the next best thing - the green rush." 

Ostrander was a co-chair in Women Grow Edmonton and said that the chapter met with overwhelming success and sold out events with many attendees being professionals in law, labs, investing, engineer manufacturers, hemp industrialists, lighting and garden centres, and Licensed Producers, which are the large scale commercial cultivators of medical cannabis licensed by the Canadian federal government.

Social Media and Cannabis Brands

Some social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram are notorious for deleting accounts belonging to cannabis brands. Brands like Lift, cannabis analysis laboratory SC Labs, The Emerald Cup, and countless dispensaries, edible makers, growers and even cannabis clinics have lost thousands of fans and years worth of photo documentation.

Back in July 2016, BuzzFeed News found that small businesses seem to be disproportionately affected by inconsistencies in the enforcement of these policies, while larger and more mainstream companies advertising the same content remain unaffected. Ostrander says she wouldn't warn off her clients from using Instagram and Facebook but she does warn companies of the risk. She's optimistic about the future, saying "The US is turning a tide and so will the marketing industry."

Creativity in Imagery

Ostrander sees an opportunity for creativity and photography by changing the image of the user demographic. "I feel like we are still looking at young, fun people with recreational marijuana, but I would like to see a well dressed woman with a beautiful vaporizer, relaxing at a stylish vape lounge at 5pm." She points out that she would also like to see more athletic types represented too.

I think we need to get an image out there of people using in moderation, responsibly.
— Stef Ostrander

Kudos and High Fives

When asked which companies are making incredible products and give great social, Ostrander points to brands like her client Just BioFibre, a manufacturer of sustainable hemp based building materials. She also had praise for brands like Lift, a Canadian cannabis media site which she called "super important for our market", Medtainer and Alair Vaporizers who she credits with making micro dosing much easier with the use of their vape pens. 

Image Credit: CannaBiz Social

Image Credit: CannaBiz Social

To book an hour long consultation, followed up with a personalized analysis of your marketing needs with CannaBiz Social visit their website here

You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

To participate in our Spotlight Series check out this post to learn more. 

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