Recently, Ganjapreneur reported that Facebook shut down six Alaskan dispensary pages. These dispensaries were using Facebook as their main form of advertising.
This may be a shock to many businesses in the cannabis community, however for Facebook, it is just another day.
Unfortunately, it is a direct violation of the terms of service for Facebook and several other social media platforms for marijuana dispensaries to advertise.
Especially if the intent is to get customers to purchase cannabis – medicinal or recreational.
This should hit close to home for a lot of businesses in the cannabis space who are continuously barraged from all directions with restrictions while trying to build a legitimate and sustainable business.
And social media is an ideal space to promote a brand and business – especially for the 420-friendly crowd.
Cannabis audiences tend to be highly engaging and are generally way cooler and more fun than other demographics, which makes them ideal for social conversions.
It may feel like social media has given your brand the wings to fly only to take away the sky.
But for those in the cannabis space who are looking to generate some revenue, do not be discouraged.
I’ve had several bans on Facebook, back when I posted click bait on large model pages. There was a point that, every time before logging into Facebook, a slight jolt of terror would creep up my spine at the possibility of my account being banned.
It sucks. It’s scary. It’s a major inconvenience. But there’s always a workaround.
Here, I’m going to share some social media hacks for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
7 Workarounds When Dealing With The Player Haters
Be Low Key
Veteran stoners will know the fear of getting caught ridin’ dirty. It’s a scary thought. I’ve definitely experienced the dubious red and blue piercing the milky haze of a hotbox.
And though, the fear may have dissolved a bit thanks to legalization in some parts, knowing that your business can be harmed or stunted can also be quite terrifying. Maybe even more so.
One main trick is to build a brand around your business. If you’re a dispensary, don’t register yourself as one on Facebook. Be a branded theme, not a shop.
You can build your page with content that is cannabis themed though not specifically related to your shops.
And be very careful of the websites linked from your Facebook page. Facebook will look at it! And they are not that cool.
It would be safest to have a separate landing page with an opt-in to collect emails – with no cannabis/smoke/product images.
So, what’s the point on having a vague cannabis page?
Marketing on social media is like trying to pick up chicks. It’s confusing. It’s weird, and if you come off too pushy or desperate, nobody wants you. But if you just want to chat and be friendly, you’ll end up in the friend zone.
In picking up women, the objective is to get them away from their native environment (isolate from group of friends or away from bar area) to have a direct conversation and hopefully get a phone number. Or more…
The ultimate goal for you marketing on social media is to get the prospect’s email. Get them off the platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc).
Once you have an email, you can engage in a more intimate setting with a more direct conversation.
Raffling off tee-shirts and other things are a great way to collect emails.
Email is the safest bet, and an ideal strategy for any business – not just canna-business.
Influencers work especially well on Facebook and Instagram in terms of viral reach and growth. If you have a specific promotion and do not want to risk ads, influencers are the way to go.
Influencers: This is a better strategy for larger brands (vapes, edibles, etc. who aren’t regionally based), but leveraging local influencers can be a hit.
With influencers, post a piece of content on your page that you know will do well on the Influencer’s page. You may even want to go through their page and snag a top post from a month or so back, since it’s guaranteed to perform.
You can also contact my friend Tucker at Blunt House Media. They have approximately 8+ million fans in the cannabis network on Facebook.
Or contact me directly, I’m pretty sure my network of cannabis influencers is one of the largest in the world.
Micro-Influencers: For localized businesses, you can look for the micro-influencers in your area. You can search based on locations and hashtags – the stoners should be easy to pick out. Aim for people that have 1000+ likes per post.
My friends at Gnack can activate micro-influencer campaigns on Instagram and target local and specific audiences. Such campaigns are not cheap, but can be worth it with the right approach and content.
If you’re keeping it low key, it should be safe to test out some advertising. For the Alaskan dispensaries, I’d suggest using their same targeting but boosting content that plays it safe. Very safe.
Use these ads to gain a following, and of course, for building your email list.
You could use non-cannabis related viral content that will attract the typical demographic of your target audience, then boost that content to a targeted cannabis audience.
This is a viral marketing approach. And if you really want to get techy, look into chatbots. You can have someone PM’d on Facebook immediately after liking your post.
Make sure the targeting is appropriate. People 21+ years old, and targeting based on location and interests (cannabis, weed, 420, weedhumor, leafly, hightimes, HERB, etc). You can also target people based on their income, purchasing behavior, and lifestyle.
If you’re taking the viral approach, invite those who liked your post to like your page. This is a free (but time consuming) option to get real likes.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are a million stoners who will do it for a dime bag.
Hosting events away from your dispensary could be a great workaround too. A stoner pizza party or BBQ at a rented mansion can be amazing and a great way to grow your following, curate fun content and establish relationships with potential customers.
Infiltrate Your Competitor’s Social Media
On twitter, go to your competitors (or indirect competitors’) top tweets, click on a tweet, then click on the retweet button and follow everybody who re-tweeted those posts of your competitors and indirect competitors.
Here, you’re following the most engaging people that follow them, and they’ll likely follow you back.
On Instagram, you do something very similar, were you click on one of their posts, click on the Likes for that post, and then you could follow and engage with all the people that liked those post.
You can also reply to comments on their pages. Just don’t be a troll, there are a lot of shitty people in this industry already.
On Facebook, it’s a little bit different. Here I would encourage you to leverage your personal profile to engage within specific groups related to cannabis. And even work on building your own Facebook Group.
If you’re going to post content, only post things of value. Links to blogs do not perform well in Facebook groups, or really anywhere on Facebook (organically).
I love Instagram stories. Every time I feed the geese across the street, I add them to my stories. I geotag the location when I do my duck walks, my average views go from 30ish (without a tag) to 400+ views when tagged.
2-6 stories per day can have a tremendous impact on your reach, engagement and brand awareness. Behind the scenes stuff at the shop, dabathons, etc.
If you’re not paying to post, it’s pretty safe to post weed content here. But keep in mind, kids may be looking too.
You can also look through the stories to find your local stoners.
When I look through my town’s stories, I always come across someone taking a bong rip. Become their friend.
You can also tag other people and add links to a blog or site in your stories. It’s pretty damn cool and very useful for businesses.
Using these strategies isn’t going to guarantee that your social accounts won’t get banned. But it’s a safer approach, and if you’re actually looking to get more business, it’s all about that email.
That said, if you were in a risky business like cannabis, you need to take risks. Consult your attorney, and consider the workarounds.
If you do intend to market aggressively on social, create some back-up accounts. Have another Facebook page and start an ad account there, and have a backup Instagram.
There will always be a chance in getting an account banned. And from personal experience, I know that not everyone in the cannabis space is cool. I’ve had many friends lose Instagram accounts due to competitors flagging them. It happens.
And remember, social media is meant to be social. Don’t spam, don’t be overzealous. Just make friends, build fan bases, work with cool influencers, and throw a couple dollars being the safe content.
Do that, with a mindset of building an email list for a more direct approach, and you’ll see a return on your efforts.
If you feel that your business could use some help with your online marketing efforts, feel free to contact me. Or click the image below to learn more.