While public attitude towards cannabis are becoming increasingly more accepting, marketing cannabis online and on Instagram is no cakewalk. When it comes to posting cannabis on social media, business owners are plagued by a strict set of regulations due to federal law. But have no fear, there are several ways to bypass these restrictions and boost your brand’s visibility.

Let’s look at the do’s and don’ts of marketing cannabis on one of the most popular social media platforms, Instagram.

Marketing Cannabis on Instagram

The key goal of marketing on Instagram should be building consumer trust rather than pursuing direct sales. Contemporary consumers are smart and aware. They know their options and they don’t need to be reminded that you’re selling a product. With the abundance of competition from other marijuana businesses, aim to convince potential customers that your brand holds superiority. Show us why your product deserves to be chosen.

And that’s not all. Instagram (along with Facebook) is notorious for reinforcing strict regulations against consumption and sales of cannabis. It only takes one unlucky post to get your account banned. While that doesn’t mean you should avoid promotional content, it does mean that paid ads are off the table if you want to play safe.

Do’s:

  • Curate a custom aesthetic fitting to your brand
  • Post 3-4x a week during peak hours
  • Focus on educational content and infographics to demonstrate your business’s in-depth knowledge of your product
  • Avoid using pictures of cannabis on sale graphics to remain undetected by Instagram moderation
  • Use a variety of different hashtags with every post
  • Display behind the scenes content to build brand integrity

Don’ts:

  • Use filters heavily— viewers are attracted to clean and simple aesthetics
  • Post daily— your followers will perceive it as spam, and Instagram may categorize your account as a bot
  • Use the same hashtag pool every post— Instagram moderation considers this spam. Your account might be labelled as a bot or get shadow-banned
  • Use paid ads – this is the fastest way to get your account banned
  • Show explicit images of cannabis consumption in promotional content (a violation of Instagram’s community guidelines)          

What about Influencers?

Although an influencer may boost your following, you must keep in mind if you’re collaborating with the right one. Check their followers and ask, who is their main demographic? If the majority of their followers are other cannabis businesses, you won’t get the best out of your deal.

Building a Voice

Here comes the most repeated question on Instagram— How’s your engagement rate?

But skip the statistics on your Insight page, because counting likes and comments may tell you the numbers, but it won’t tell you who are in those numbers. If the majority of your likes and comments come from other cannabis businesses, then who you’re facing is a tired marketing intern spamming emojis behind a screen to meet their daily quota. That’s not really engaging with an authentic audience.

Instead of going through the motions and completing the monotonous circuit of like for like, comment for comment, follow for follow, try something else. Give your business a voice. Think of Wendy’s or Duolingo. They’ve created a fanbase out of their consumers by using tongue-in-cheek jokes that are brazenly self-aware. Of course, that’s not to say that snarky humour should shape your brand.

If your business leans into the classic stoner, or the spiritual naturalist, or even the Rastafarian, then use that image to shape your voice. Go to the account of a popular figure in your niche and leave an eye-catching comment that incorporates a distinct personality. Doing so will invite actual potential consumers, instead of your competitors.

Footnote(s)