How To Get Customer Reviews For Your Cannabis Business

How To Get Customer Reviews For Your Cannabis Business

Customer reviews and word-of-mouth advertising can make or break a business. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a passive participant when it comes to customer reviews just because you’re a cannabis business owner. There are plenty of things you can do to gather more positive reviews, demonstrate your commitment to your customers, and show the world that your business provides a top-notch experience. Improve your customer review game with our guide.

Where are customer reviews usually posted?

Customer reviews generally live on a third-party platform or on a reseller’s website. Here are some common places you can expect to find customer reviews — places where you might want to set up a profile for your business.

Google Business Profile: A must-have for any cannabis business, your Google Business Profile includes all the key information about your company at a glance, including contact info, location, hours of operation, and images.

GBP listings also include customer reviews, complete with a starred rating that totals the cumulative of all your reviews. Around 60 percent of people read reviews on a company’s GBP. It offers a powerful source of social proof right on the search engine results page.

Yelp: You can’t think of “customer reviews” without thinking of Yelp. Yelp remains a go-to source for customer reviews of all types of businesses, including cannabis businesses. Most Yelp reviews are focused on the business generally, rather than specific products or services, though it’s common for users to reference their individual experiences in detail.

Leafly: Leafly allows users to leave customer reviews on particular strains, cannabis products, and even cannabis dispensaries. It includes a detailed list of cannabis dispensaries by location, which is important for retailers to take advantage of.

Weedmaps: Similar to Leafly, Weedmaps maintains a directory of cannabis dispensaries and enables customer reviews on its platform. As a well-respected name in cannabis, Weedmaps is another important stop for any cannabis retailer.

Reddit: Reddit is a top social channel for cannabis consumers and a more informal source of reviews, which can also make it especially powerful for your brand or shop. Cannabis enthusiasts often take to Reddit to review everything from individual products to product categories to cannabis businesses. This thriving cannabis community may be difficult to tap into, as much of these customer reviews are anonymous, but getting a thumbs up from this discerning crowd can be a big boon to your business.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you’re not sure where else to look for customer reviews about businesses like yours, ask some of your customers where they go for reliable information. You may find a new platform that suits your business perfectly.

Customer testimonials and how they differ from customer reviews

A customer testimonial is a positive story that’s deliberately requested for marketing purposes. When a customer testimonial is offered, it’s with the knowledge that the business plans to promote the story to grow their business. Customer testimonials are usually posted on a business’s website, rather than a third-party site.

Customer reviews are generally offered spontaneously and can be either positive or negative, reflecting a customer’s personal experience with a particular product or service a company offers. Incentivizing customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile or on sites like Leafly or Weedmaps doesn’t make them a testimonial. 

How to ask for customer reviews

Some customers are motivated to leave a review on their own, but most will simply complete their transaction and go about their day, even if they were totally satisfied. Around 37 percent of customers leave reviews after a positive interaction with your company, while a much smaller percentage — around 6 percent — are motivated to leave a review after a bad experience. 

If you’re stumped as to how to get customer reviews from more of your customers, consider the following tips to make it easier.

  • Simply ask: Most of your customers would be happy to leave a positive review of your business. All you have to do is ask! If you see a frequent customer or think a customer is particularly satisfied, ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review. Explain how this helps your business refine its service and make it even better, as well as how important it is to your business to demonstrate its dedication to quality service. In many cases, customers will understand — and may even want to help out.

  • Make it easy: Simplifying the process increases the likelihood that a customer follows through. Consider displaying QR codes that link directly to your Google Business Profile or another review site of your choice to help customers quickly navigate to where they need to go to leave a review.

  • Offer an incentive: If you really want to increase the amount of customer reviews your business receives, offer an incentive and let people know about it at the point of sale. Consider providing a small discount or a freebie to customers who can show that they left a review. Even modest incentives can encourage more people to leave customer reviews. 

  • Give out free samples: Do you have a new product that you want more customer reviews for? Try handing out free samples at the point of sale and asking customers to leave a product review if they like it. Everyone loves a free sample, so you’ll already be starting off from an advantageous position.

Most customers will be happy to offer their thoughts and feedback if you only ask. The key is to give them multiple, simple avenues to get online and put those thoughts into writing. Once you do so, the customer reviews are bound to start rolling in.

5 customer review tips to keep in mind

1. Set up detailed profiles on review sites

Before you can expect to gather a bunch of customer reviews, you need to make sure your profiles are set up and thoroughly completed. That means including contact information like your phone number, email, and website URL, as well as photos that help to identify your business, products, and services. If you can include more personal information, like the names of particular managers, that can help build a stronger connection with customers as well. 

You can’t expect people to engage with a profile that’s half-finished, so take the time to make sure yours looks great before you start asking customers to leave reviews. Remember, as circumstances change for your business, you’ll need to update these profiles too. Leaving outdated information on review sites may confuse customers and lead to a negative experience.

2. Engage with reviewers

Don’t just let customers send their reviews into a vacuum — engage with them by replying and keeping the conversation going. When reviewers leave positive feedback, be sure to thank them and invite them to come back. The more personalized your responses, the better. After all, these customers have gone out of their way to review your products and services. Acknowledging them and showing appreciation for their effort can go a long way to boosting loyalty and encouraging others to leave reviews as well. 

3. Leverage negative reviews, too

Negative reviews are also good, in moderation. Having some negative reviews can make your product look more authentic. Think about it: if you see a product with a handful of reviews and an average score of 5 stars, you may wonder how legitimate the feedback could be. However, if you see a product with many reviews and an average score of 4.7 stars, you’re more likely to accept that the feedback is authentic and the product is actually good.

The way you respond to negative reviews can also demonstrate your commitment to improving service quality and your transparency with customers. By proactively replying to negative reviews and seeking ways to improve customer experience, you can actually build brand loyalty. And, if you’re able to offer a discount or otherwise make amends with the negative reviewer, you may even turn them into a repeat customer.

4. Promote reviews on your website and social media

Once you have a robust profile set up and the customer reviews are rolling in, you can promote them elsewhere as part of an omnichannel digital marketing strategy. By directing users to your review pages, you can demonstrate the valuable social proof that shows you offer quality products and services. What’s more, this can have a compounding effect that drives more customer reviews, increasing the archive of feedback you’ve already gathered. 

5. Outsource customer review management

If you’re thinking this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. Properly managing review site profiles, gathering customer reviews, and engaging with reviewers can be a full time job, especially as your footprint grows. So, if your digital marketing budget allows for it, consider outsourcing the customer review management process to a marketing agency. 

The best marketing agencies will handle everything for you, from setting up review site profiles to gathering customer reviews to engaging with users who provide feedback. You should still collect customer reviews at the point of sale, but you won’t have to do the work behind the scenes to make sure it all comes together. Instead, you can just focus on keeping your business running.

Demonstrate customer satisfaction with customer reviews

Your customers want to give reviews and have their voices heard, and luckily for you, their feedback can be a powerful marketing tool. By using the tips above to get more customer reviews and showcasing them in the right way, your business can become a social proof machine. Nothing convinces a new customer to buy from you like independent, authentic customer reviews that validate your products and services. Don’t sleep on customer reviews — start gathering them today.

If you’re looking for support when it comes to customer reviews or any other aspect of cannabis digital marketing, CannaContent can help. Check out our services to learn more about what we can do for your business.

Reviews Are So Hot Right Now: Why Dispensaries Need To Leverage Product Reviews to Win Customers

Reviews Are So Hot Right Now: Why Dispensaries Need To Leverage Product Reviews to Win Customers

It’s a mad dash to capture customers in cannabis, and canna-lovers are increasingly turning to reviews to learn more before they buy, just like they would any other product. For many consumers, cannabis product reviews are the best way to anticipate what to expect when they’re considering trying something new. And the good news for dispensaries? These reviews are just about the hottest thing you can leverage in your marketing, from SEO to social media to your website and so much more. Here, we examine why you should fold cannabis product reviews into your SEO content strategy and offer up some tips for quality review-writing.

The importance of reviews for marketing, by the numbers

The role of product reviews in your SEO content strategy


1. Specific searches indicate a customer is ready to buy

In general, the more specific a query, the further along that searcher is on their buying journey. These keywords have what’s called commercial intent. When searchers use keywords with commercial intent, they’ve moved beyond the awareness stage of a brand or store and into the consideration stage. They’re evaluating options before they take action. By capturing these types of searches, you can help steer soon-to-be customers to your shop as they make their final purchasing decisions. A review can be just the thing that takes this type of customer from “just browsing” to “ready for pickup.”

An SEO strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. Read our article about how long it takes for SEO content to rank on Google to learn more.

2. Product reviews build authority

A content strategy does not exist in a vacuum. Blogs are part of an overall plan to contribute to your website’s relevance in your sector (in this case, cannabis). That relevance is essential to securing good placement on search engines and climbing up the ranks. 

Reviews also demonstrate that you’re an expert in cannabis. Reviews that dive beyond flavors and discuss the why behind their effects signal to customers and search engines alike that you’re a reliable source of information. That pays off in spades for your search engine rankings and your sales.

3. Product-specific searches are only getting more popular

Adult-use cannabis has been around for more than a decade. In that time, many companies have built brand awareness that’s essential to any successful marketing endeavor. Writing product reviews is a great way to capitalize on the brand awareness those companies built. This drives internet traffic to your website, brings customers into your world, and links your dispensary with the brand. These searches will only get more competitive over time as more customers search for these keywords and more dispensaries attempt to secure this traffic. Creating thorough, helpful product reviews now can help you get ahead of the competition.

Let’s take one of the best-selling gummies in the U.S. as an example of how branded searches are on the rise. Launched in Oregon in 2015, Wyld THC products are currently available in 10 states in multiple flavors and cannabinoid formulations. User search trends about Wyld’s brand and its products make evident how much its popularity has grown over time. Here are some data snippets that give you a sense of how the search trends grew alongside Wyld.

Searches for “wyld gummies” have grown steadily over the years, as you can see in this chart. The keyword is searched an average of 21,000 times per month on Google, with natural fluctuations from month to month.

As the brand’s reach increases, you start to see more specific searches emerge,  specifically those with commercial intent. Searches for “wyld gummies near me” started to rise in early 2020, and currently average 1,000 searches per month on Google in the U.S.

Searches for “wyld review” have been around for quite some time, but they really start to take off in the summer of 2020. The term is searched on Google an estimated average of 700 times a month. Each user searching this term is likely close to buying, so if you can direct them to your website, there’s a higher chance of conversion. They’re ready to become your next customer, but you need the reviews they’re searching for to capture their attention.

4. Customers use social media as a secondary search engine

Google may be the leading search engine, but social media platforms are not far behind. YouTube, owned by Google, is the second-largest search engine in the world. TikTok is rapidly catching up, with Gen Zers turning to the platform for information and first-hand experiences. TikTok may be notoriously anti-cannabis, but it hasn’t stopped WeedTok from flourishing, and it certainly doesn’t stop customers from looking. Product reviews posted to their platforms can help drive more people to shop for a specific item at your dispensary. 

Reviews posted to social media are often accompanied by photos and videos that show customers precisely what they can expect when they buy an item. This insight helps would-be shoppers make the best assessment of their choices, moving them further down the customer acquisition funnel.

What are Google’s guidelines for writing product reviews?

Google Search Central released guidelines for reviews earlier this year, giving us a glimpse into what the search engine considers when assessing and ranking product reviews for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This key ranking factor is known as E-E-A-T, and it plays a foundational role in assessing your website for relevance and subsequent placement in search results.

According to Google’s guidelines, reviews:

  • Should be original
  • Should prioritize the customer’s point of view
  • Should explain the purpose of a product, with best use case scenarios
  • Should prioritize decision-making factors that a customer might take into account

Example of a top-ranking cannabis product review

For this example, we’ll use Wyld again. We put together a Wyld gummies review for our client, Michigan-based dispensary Iconic Wellness and Provisioning. Wyld is among the more popular gummy brands in Michigan and a hot seller at Iconic. This opened an opportunity to create content aimed at bringing unacquainted, yet motivated customers into their dispensary. 

The plan paid off. Iconic Wellness content appears on Page 1 of search engine results pages (SERPs) when you look up reviews for Wyld. The way Google prioritizes reviews is immediately evident from the metadata, seen below. The search engine automatically parsed out pros and cons from the content and made them easy for customers to assess. Searchers can also navigate directly to a specific flavor mentioned in the review (terms which are gaining search traffic on their own) without having to dig deeper into the website or on other search results.

What other ways can you leverage product reviews in your marketing?

  • Social media. Customers don’t have to take your word for it when it comes to customer reviews. Posts and video clips shared on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, and many more platforms offer more ways for customers to learn about the products your dispensary sells.
  • Email and text message marketing. Whether you have a big Green Wednesday sale coming up or want to spotlight a brand partner, reviews make for great content for your email marketing. You can even consider repurposing this content in text message marketing if your customer base prefers getting information straight to their phone.
  • Collateral: Testimonials are instrumental to influencing the purchasing journey. Making them part of your case studies, flyers, and other marketing materials gives shoppers confidence and encourages them to move ahead. 

4 tips for cannabis product review writing

1. Give customers a sense of what their experience may be.

Is the product you’re reviewing great for kicking back and relaxing, staying laser-focused on a project due next week, or great for giggling along to your favorite stand-up? Include that information in your review. Be sure to clarify, though, that the reader’s experience may vary. No cannabis experience is guaranteed, and your customers need to know that they need to try something to get a full understanding of how it will affect them.

2. Highlight different flavors and formulations in a blog post.

If a brand has different serving sizes, cannabinoid ratios, terpene profiles, or flavors, try to discuss as many of these factors as possible when writing. This delivers a complete package of information customers can use to make an informed decision about their purchase.

3. Ask your budtenders and customers.

Which edibles are flying off the shelves? What brands are customers constantly asking about? Surveying shoppers and budtenders gives insight into the information people want to read and what influences their decision-making processes. It also validates your review, offering third-party perspectives that back up what you’re saying.

4. Think about how you’re distributing the review.

After your product review is written, think about how that content is going out on social media. Where will it be posted and which form will it take? Who will create that content? Have a plan before you write. 

Turn cannabis reviews into opportunities for your dispensary marketing

The timing couldn’t be more perfect to fold reviews into your marketing plans. SEO-informed reviews are a prime opportunity to take advantage of emerging search traffic and growing brand awareness, leveraging it into a powerful traffic driver for your business. And with the combined power of omnichannel marketing, your reviews go beyond the pages of Google and into thousands of inboxes and social media feeds. That power can’t be underestimated — you have to see it to believe it.

Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Cannabis Business

Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Cannabis Business

Cannabis consumers — and just about anyone, for that matter — turn to the internet first when looking for any product or service. It’s crucial, then, for your business to have a strong presence across the web. 

Cannabis marketing agencies can help create a digital marketing strategy for your business, but choosing the right partner is a critical first step. Working with a good cannabis marketing agency can lead to more sales, higher transaction volume, and satisfied, loyal customers. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of selecting the right digital marketing agency for your cannabis business and provide some tips to help you make the right decision.  

Why should I hire a cannabis digital marketing agency? 

A strong digital marketing agency that specializes in cannabis can help your brand stay ahead in the industry’s competitive landscape. By partnering with a reputable agency, you can ensure that your company stands out from the competition and reaches your target audience wherever they’re most active online. Investing in a cannabis-focused digital marketing agency can offer the following benefits:

  • Save time and money: The best digital marketing agencies make magic happen quickly and cohesively, ultimately saving time and money by freeing up your time and resources to focus on other essential aspects of your business. Digital marketing is an important full time job, so trusting expert professionals to devise and execute your campaigns can help boost return on investment (ROI) while allowing you to focus on what matters most — running your business.
  • Reach more likely customers: Experienced cannabis marketers know which channels to use to reach your target audience and how to use them effectively. A digital marketing agency can help you to increase your online visibility and brand awareness through targeted digital marketing campaigns that span your website, social media, email, text messaging, industry publications, and more.
  • Experience and expertise: The cannabis industry is a dynamic place, so it’s best to have expert advice and input. A cannabis digital marketing agency will understand changing trends and what works best for each market segment, as well as the unique legal and regulatory requirements of the cannabis industry. These insights make sure your marketing campaigns are relevant, targeted, and in line with regulatory requirements and third-party platforms’ terms of service.
  • Connections: Working with an agency broadens your brand’s horizons. They may have resources or tools you may not have in-house and can help you bridge valuable relationships within the industry. Agencies work with a variety of vendors, so they can serve as referral partners in addition to bringing the value of their professional skills and expertise to your business.

Realizing these benefits of course depends on hiring the right cannabis marketing agency. If you’re ready to shop around, you’ll want to do your due diligence to make sure you select the best team for your business. 

7 things to consider when outsourcing marketing for cannabis

Not all digital marketing agencies are created equal, and choosing the wrong one can be costly for your cannabis business. Every company has different needs, but the following aspects are good to consider when choosing a digital marketing agency for your cannabis business:  

1. Experience with the cannabis industry and your market segment

The cannabis industry is a unique and evolving space, so the marketing agency you choose should have demonstrable experience working with other cannabis businesses. Ask for case studies that highlight their success stories in the industry, ideally those involving companies in your same market segment. 

An experienced cannabis digital marketing agency also understands the legal and regulatory restrictions surrounding advertising and marketing in the industry, and will use that knowledge to develop strategies that comply with these restrictions to avoid potential legal issues. Additionally, they will have knowledge of industry trends and practices, allowing them to create effective campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

When selecting a cannabis marketing agency, be sure to ask questions about all of the above and expect to receive detailed responses that demonstrate the team’s expertise in each of these areas.

2. Range of services offered

When searching for a cannabis digital marketing agency, it’s essential to ensure that they offer the specific services that you need. This may include social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, building accessible websites, email marketing, and more. By partnering with an agency that can offer a comprehensive suite of services, you can ensure that your brand is reaching its marketing goals and reaching your audience effectively. Finding an agency with “deep and narrow” experience in one specific service, such as content writing or social media, can provide value and insight into specific marketing strategies as well. 

3. Extensive client portfolio in the cannabis industry

It’s not enough to be a skilled marketer to operate in the cannabis industry — your marketing team needs to understand the cannabis space itself. Review an agency’s past work and check out their current and previous client portfolio. This will give you an idea of their capabilities and whether they fit your needs. You can also look for testimonials and case studies from past clients to provide you with valuable insight into the agency. With this information in hand, you can make a more informed decision.

4. Transparent communication and professionalism 

You’ll want to work with an agency that is responsive, available, and able to communicate effectively throughout your partnership. Consider the agency’s ability to provide updates, answer questions, and address concerns in a timely and professional manner, as well as their availability and responsiveness. These qualities should be apparent when you first engage a company, from an introductory call and initial proposal throughout your entire working relationship.

Always look for agencies with clear communication protocols and set expectations for regular check-ins and updates. By partnering with agencies that prioritize communication and professionalism, you can ensure that your marketing is executed smoothly and you are kept informed along the way. 

5. Alignment in company culture and values

Consider whether the agency’s mission and values align with yours. When an agency understands and supports your vision, they are more likely to create marketing strategies that resonate with you and your target audience. By choosing an agency that shares your company’s values and priorities, you can be confident that you’re working with a partner who understands and supports your vision for your cannabis business. 

Explain your brand mission and vision statement in the introductory call. Ask how the agency feels about your values and whether they share them. It should be clear if this message resonates with the agency or not. Digital marketers are your first line of communicating your brand, products, and services to your customers, so they need to get what you’re all about. Choose a company that intrinsically understands these elements of your brand for the best results.

6. Agency size and location 

If you prefer face-to-face meetings or want the agency to be close to your physical location, it’s best to choose a local agency. On the other hand, if remote communication works for you and your business, selecting an agency that operates entirely online may be more convenient. 

Also consider whether a marketing agency has the capabilities to scale their services as your business grows. Ask about their processes when it comes to content creation and production. Make sure they have the capacity to meet your needs, delivering quality content for your campaigns in a timely manner. 

Marketing agencies also range in size, and small companies with small client lists generally offer a more personal experience and specialized attention to your business needs.  

7. Pricing that fits your budget

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your finances and ensure that the agency you choose can provide quality services within your budget. Keep in mind that larger agencies with more prominent client lists may come with a higher price tag but also tend to offer more resources and expertise. Don’t be afraid to reach out or schedule a consultation with potential agencies to discuss your budget and get a better idea of what services they can provide. 

Expect a detailed proposal that breaks down the costs of each service an agency will provide. Transparent pricing is essential to planning your marketing budget effectively.


How to get the most out of your digital marketing agency

While a digital marketing agency is there to help, there are certain things you can do to ensure the best possible results. Follow these tips to foster a productive and successful partnership and get the most out of the relationship: 

  • Be proactively involved: Your digital marketing agency should be seen as a partner rather than a vendor. It’s important to be actively engaged in the process and provide input and ideas to help share your marketing campaigns. Marketing teams may need access to team members for interviews or assets like graphics, images, and videos. The best marketing teams can create these for you if you don’t already have them.
  • Schedule regular check-ins: Scheduling regular meetings with your marketing agency can help keep your campaigns on track and ensure everyone is on the same page. Use these meetings to discuss progress, address any concerns and provide necessary feedback. 
  • Respond in a timely manner: Your agency will likely have questions about your business and goals throughout the process. It’s essential to be responsive and provide them with the information they need to create effective marketing campaigns.  
  • Be open to suggestions and willing to make changes: Your agency is likely to suggest changes or adjustments to your campaigns based on their experience and expertise. Be open to their suggestions and willing to make changes as needed to improve results. 

If you adhere to these tips, the relationship with your marketing team will be a productive one and their work on your behalf will be all the better for it.

Cannabis marketing done right with CannaContent 

Choosing the right digital marketing agency for your cannabis business is crucial to achieving success in this highly competitive market. At CannaContent, our team of experienced professionals understands the unique challenges and opportunities facing cannabis businesses today. Whether you need help with SEO, social media, content marketing, or all of the above, we’re dedicated to helping our clients succeed. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you grow your cannabis business. 

7 Social Channels For Cannabis Companies (And How To Leverage Them For Marketing)

7 Social Channels For Cannabis Companies (And How To Leverage Them For Marketing)

Businesses need a social media presence to reach their target audience, collect reviews, connect with customers, and so much more. But in the case of cannabis, many platforms are wishy-washy on this (somehow still) controversial topic, making it quite difficult for businesses across the entire industry to get the word out where their audience hangs out.

There’s an argument to be made to stay away from social media altogether – after all, why play nice on a platform that doesn’t want you there? Why deal with the heartbreak of bans and deletions? But for many cannabis companies, these mainstream social media platforms are still essential to connecting with potential customers and new business partners. How do you balance these interests?

What is the most cannabis-friendly mainstream social media platform? 

Reddit has long been regarded as the most cannabis-friendly mainstream social media network. With untold numbers of active community members enthusiastically discussing everything and anything about the plant, cannabis brands, medical cannabis, and more, the platform has become a go-to for enthusiasts and industry professionals alike. Reddit’s open nature and passionate user base make it a valuable resource for engaging with the cannabis community. 

Based on recent changes to advertising policies, Twitter (now called X, for now) is regarded as a cannabis-friendly mainstream social media network as well. The updates allow companies with proper licenses to apply through the platform’s approval process to advertise cannabis, hemp, and CBD products on-site. 

LinkedIn also offers another less strict option for companies looking to leverage B2B networking in the wake of changing regulations and restrictions on other platforms. While shadowbanning and restrictions of cannabis-related accounts aren’t unheard of on LinkedIn, it’s much less difficult than channels owned by Meta (Instagram and Facebook) or TikTok. 

Is there a social network specifically for cannabis?

In addition to mainstream social media networks, there are dedicated social channels specifically for the cannabis industry. Platforms like MJLink, Leafwire, and Social Club offer space for cannabis-related businesses and content creators to connect and share their expertise, products, and services with a target audience. While these platforms may not have the same reach as larger social media networks, they can be valuable tools for cannabis companies looking to expand their audience and experiment with more lenient marketing rules.

These platforms also attract a community of individuals already interested in and actively discussing cannabis-related topics. This can put some companies at a disadvantage, especially if they’re trying to reach audiences that simply aren’t on these platforms.

By participating in these channels, businesses can directly engage with a highly targeted audience that is more likely to be receptive to their products and services. While the reach might be smaller, this focused approach allows for more meaningful connections and potentially greater impact. 

7 social channels used by cannabis companies — and the obstacles they face

Whether you are a small cannabis startup or an established industry leader, leveraging social media channels can help you to build a solid online presence and reach a wider audience. While some platforms may allow for cannabis-related content, it’s essential to carefully consider each platform’s terms of service to navigate and utilize them effectively. The following social media channels are among the best for cannabis businesses to reach their target audience.

1. Facebook

The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level creates legal complexities and uncertainties, leading to stricter policies from social media platforms like Facebook. Due to federal regulations surrounding cannabis, Facebook has implemented guidelines imposing limitations on cannabis-related content and advertisements. Current policy details state that: 

  • Ads may not promote or offer the sale of THC products or cannabis products containing related psychoactive components. This covers both paid advertising and organic content.
  • Ads may not promote or offer the sale of ingestible CBD products derived from hemp. However, topical CBD product advertisements are allowed.

The details add that “Ads must not promote the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs, or other unsafe substances, products or supplements, as determined by Meta at its sole discretion.”

Although Facebook may not be the ideal platform for cannabis companies, it can still be a valuable tool for building your online presence. Users often search on Facebook to find companies and expect reputable businesses to have a Facebook page. To create a successful Facebook account as a cannabis company, providing valuable, informative content, engaging with your audience, and following Facebook’s advertising guidelines is essential. 

Successfully marketing your cannabis brand on Facebook means avoiding any direct promotion or sales of cannabis-related products. Working with a cannabis marketing agency to navigate Facebook’s rules around cannabis can help you work with this social channel most effectively.

2. Instagram

Instagram is a great social media channel for consumer-facing brands due to its visual nature and large user base. However, as a global platform, Instagram must adhere to laws in countries where cannabis is illegal. The platform intends to maintain a policy that aligns with the diverse legal framework in different regions and creates a safe environment for its diverse demographic of users. According to their guidelines, the site “doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform for advertising or selling marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country.” 

Instagram’s commitment to following regulations and avoiding potential legal consequences is reflected in its strict terms of service as well as the app’s ability to entirely remove accounts that do not adhere to them. The platform is also notorious for implementing “shadowbans,” or blocking a user by making their posts and comments no longer visible to other users. Shadowbanned accounts won’t receive any notice but can expect a dramatic decrease in their page’s interactions and ability to be discovered by new followers. 

Creating high-quality content that adheres to Instagram’s strict guidelines can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It’s worth noting that Instagram’s policies regarding cannabis content and advertising can change rapidly. Additionally, utilizing influencer marketing and partnering with other cannabis-related accounts can be a successful strategy for gaining more visibility and engagement on Instagram.  

3. Twitter

Recent changes to Twitter’s policy on cannabis advertising make the social media giant the only site to explicitly allow paid cannabis advertising of any kind. The recent changes allow companies with proper licenses who have passed through Twitter’s approval process to advertise cannabis, hemp, and CBD products on-site, as long as they are not promoting or offering the sale of cannabis or CBD products. This means that while companies can’t make ads encouraging followers to buy certain products or link out to their menu, they are free to run campaigns that advertise the brand and its primary locations, so long as they aren’t making a sales pitch. 

Twitter’s more lenient policies reflect the changing legal landscape, evolving social attitudes, and advocacy efforts within the cannabis community and create an environment to allow for increased visibility. The platform can also be effective for establishing your brand as a thought leader, commenting on industry trends, or engaging with consumers or other businesses. 

Even with the potential improvements in Twitter’s policies regarding cannabis, it’s important to note that effective engagement on the platform requires a clear strategy and social media plan. Working with an experienced marketing agency can help your business develop a deliberate social plan tailored to Twitter’s unique environment. 

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that can be valuable for cannabis businesses to connect with industry professionals, potential partners, investors, and more. Like other social media platforms, LinkedIn does have policies regarding cannabis-related content, specifically prohibiting “ads that promote the sale of use of illicit or recreational drugs.” It’s essential for companies to examine and comply with these guidelines very closely to avoid losing their account. While there are instances where content or profiles have been restricted or removed, the site is not generally known to actively remove cannabis content or block cannabis businesses. 

While LinkedIn aims to maintain the integrity of the professional networking environment and ensure that its users are not exposed to potentially illegal or harmful substances, companies can still leverage the platform effectively. LinkedIn allows businesses to share industry news and insights and showcase their expertise and unique offerings. This can also help raise brand awareness, build credibility, and expand collaboration opportunities. By adhering closely to LinkedIn’s guidelines and avoiding ads promoting cannabis, you can ensure a positive and productive experience for your brand. 

5. TikTok

Owned by ByteDance, a company based in China, TikTok outright bans all cannabis content. It’s worth noting that cannabis laws are much more restrictive in China than those in the U.S. With the platform also appealing to a generally younger demographic, its community guidelines do not allow the following: 

  • Content that suggests, depicts, imitates, or promotes the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or drugs by a minor
  • Content that offers instruction targeting minors on how to buy, sell, or trade alcohol, tobacco, or controlled substances
  • Content that depicts or promotes activities that may jeopardize youth well-being, including physical challenges, dares, or stunts

While TikTok has some of the most rigid guidelines regarding cannabis content, there are many creative ways to build your brand while adhering to the terms of service. Focus on creating content that highlights culture and lifestyle rather than the plant itself. For example, this could include sharing recipes for cannabis-infused products or educational videos debunking “stoner stereotypes.” 

If you want to successfully run cannabis-related content on TikTok, working with a marketing agency that understands the platform is critical. Otherwise, you could easily find your account suspended and lose all the hard-earned followers you gained in an instant.

6. Reddit

While Reddit does not mention cannabis or recreational drugs in their Terms of Service, their content policy does have a rule stating to “Keep it legal, and avoid posting illegal content or soliciting or facilitating illegal or prohibition transactions,” with prohibited goods including
“Drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with the platform’s advertising policy).” 

With these rules in place, Reddit essentially allows users to post what they wish. However, the platform will remove any and all information pertaining to buying or selling cannabis products. 

It’s also important to note that Reddit is composed of various communities or subreddits, each with its own rules and regulations. While discussions surrounding cannabis may be permitted within specific subreddits, others might not allow for such conversation. Assessing and adhering to each community’s guidelines is crucial to ensure responsible and compliant discussion. There are hundreds or even thousands of communities on Reddit dedicated to cannabis lifestyle and wellness.

7. YouTube

While Youtube’s stringent guidelines prohibit “content that encourages dangerous or illegal activities that risk serious physical harm or death,” the platform eased some restrictions in 2021. The update stated that the platform would be expanding monetization on educational, documentary, or news content that may include “recreational drugs and drug-related content, or sensitive events,” as well as broadening monetization for content where “non-graphic, objective discussions of controversial issues are in the video.” While it’s not perfect, educational and informational cannabis content on YouTube has the potential to go far.

As far as advertising goes, however, YouTube remains strict. While the platform allows ads for topical, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products that fall under the 0.3% threshold, YouTube’s advertising policy specifically prohibits: 

  • Ads for substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise induce “highs” (e.g., cannabis, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, and other illegal opioids)
  • Ads for products or services marketed as facilitating recreational drug use (e.g., pipes, bongs, cannabis coffee shops)
  • Ads for instructional content about producing, purchasing, or using recreational drugs (e.g., forums to exchange tips or recommendations on cannabis use)

Where social fits in broader digital marketing strategy 

Social media is just one part of a larger digital marketing strategy how social media can play a crucial role in several aspects of a broader digital marketing strategy, such as:   

  • Increasing brand awareness: Social media marketing can help cannabis companies build brand awareness among their target audience by sharing engaging content and promoting unique products or services. 
  • Engaging with customers: Maintaining an active presence on social media and engaging with customers will help build trust and a positive reputation for your brand. Utilizing Instagram polls and replying to comments can help increase customer loyalty and retention.
  • Driving traffic to your website: Social media channels provide an excellent opportunity to drive traffic to your company’s website as well. Repurposing blog posts for Instagram or Twitter is an easy way to create content and direct people from your social site to your website.   
  • Establishing connections and networking: Certain social media channels can be used to connect with other businesses, professionals, investors, and potential partners. Building a solid presence on sites like LinkedIn can lead to more opportunities for collaboration and growth.  
  • Monitoring the success of campaigns: Most social channels provide valuable information regarding analytics and insights. These metrics can include everything from engagement rates to demographics to help you identify patterns and trends and adjust your strategy accordingly.  

Make the most of your marketing 

While social media can be a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with your target audience, navigating the ever-changing landscape can be overwhelming for any business – especially cannabis. That’s where CannaContent comes in. Our tailored content and strategic social media management help companies build their online presence, connect with their audience and achieve their marketing goals. Contact us to learn more about how CannaContent can help your business succeed on and offline. 

Changing The Channel: Repurposing Blog Content For Omnichannel Cannabis Marketing

Changing The Channel: Repurposing Blog Content For Omnichannel Cannabis Marketing

Your online audience is constantly changing the channel, whether they’re browsing websites, scrolling on social media, or checking their email inbox. Capturing and retaining the attention of users while they’re channel surfing in this way is key for any business’s digital marketing efforts, which is where omnichannel strategies come into play. 

Omnichannel campaigns are powerful tools in a cannabis marketer’s arsenal, especially when navigating regulatory restrictions and strict terms of service from third party platforms. Creating an omnichannel marketing campaign requires a lot of content, though, so it’s important to allocate your time and effort wisely to create content that will resonate on each channel you publish it on. To help you pull off a successful omnichannel marketing campaign, CannaContent has created this omnichannel marketing guide to get you started off on a strong foot.

What is omnichannel marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is an approach to digital marketing that includes all available marketing channels, with the end goal of consistently reaching your audience as they change channels online. It’s an effective way to deliver a particular message or call to action (CTA) in the most effective way possible, whether it appears on a search engine, social media, in an email inbox, on a digital ad, or somewhere else entirely.

“[In an omnichannel campaign, marketers] are hoping to deliver on as many platforms as are available to them and to keep that high touch, recency frequency going with an omnichannel campaign,” said Amy Deneson, co-founder of Phenolution and founder of Cannabis Media Council.

Omnichannel marketing campaigns involve the strategic repurposing of content to create an integrated experience across each of these marketing channels. For example, whether a user sees a social media post, email, or landing page associated with the campaign, each will reinforce the other and amplify the overall message a brand is trying to communicate.

“Many marketers, especially in cannabis, are solving for bandwidth constraints. So, they’re trying to look at how they can get their message out in as many ways to their audience and to their target markets as they possibly can,” Deneson said. “One way to approach an omnichannel campaign is to say we want this one or cohesive set of messages to appear in multiple touch points.” 

Meeting a channel surfing audience wherever they are

An omnichannel marketing campaign takes place across all available marketing channels, which your audience traverses seamlessly during their time online. According to Deneson, you can think of marketing channels across four major buckets: owned channels, social media, earned media, and paid media.

  • Owned channels: These channels include branded channels that are part of your own digital ecosystem, such as your website, email marketing, and text message marketing. In cannabis marketing, owned channels are generally the safest place to distribute content because you aren’t beholden to third-party platforms’ terms and conditions that restrict what you can do. So long as your content is legally compliant with applicable state and federal regulations, you can deploy it on owned channels.
  • Social media channels: Social media channels are platforms like TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. These channels are generally more tightly controlled, each maintaining their own unique terms of service that must be followed to avoid account suspensions or bans. However, if you can navigate these terms of service well, social media channels offer a powerful way to build a community of engaged users who see your brand and engage with it repeatedly over time.
  • Earned media channels: Earned media refers to public relations and traditional news outlets. You can work to gain earned media by sending press releases, speaking at conferences, hosting events, and more. It can be one of the most difficult channels to access, but also one of the most validating since earned media channels generally include reputable publications or sources of information. However, frequently securing earned media can be difficult, so it’s important to maintain more consistent messaging on other channels as well. In some cases, earned media may include influencer marketing, when the relationship is not transactional.
  • Paid media channels: Paid media includes advertising and sponsorships, as well as most types of influencer marketing. This includes pay per click (PPC) advertisements on search engines, as well as display ads on websites and social media. In cannabis, paid advertising is somewhat restricted, though opportunities to advertise on paid channels do still exist if you know where to look. 

Omnichannel vs. multichannel marketing campaigns

Although you may sometimes see the terms omnichannel and multichannel marketing used interchangeably, there is an important technical difference between the two. The prefix “omni” means “all”, and so an omnichannel campaign would focus on every available marketing channel. In an omnichannel marketing campaign, each of these channels work together to deliver an integrated message and unified experience for the customer or prospect. As a result, the primary focus of an omnichannel marketing campaign is the target audience.

The prefix “multi” refers to more than one, so a multichannel campaign still covers multiple marketing channels, but not necessarily all available ones. The style and message of content delivered on each channel may also be distinct from those delivered on others and the focus tends to be on the product or service rather than the customer or prospect. Still, despite this key difference, it’s still important to adhere to some level of brand consistency in terms of tone, style, and message when running a multichannel marketing campaign.

Choosing the right channels to reach your audience

When crafting an omnichannel or multichannel marketing campaign, it’s important to first identify which channels your audience frequents most. In cannabis, advertising and marketing restrictions may prohibit particular options, such as television or radio advertisements. So cannabis marketers need to create a plan that is compliant with all applicable regulations, including which channels through which they will deploy content.

“Once we determine what’s available to us that meets the strategy… then [we need to determine] what’s the likelihood that by activating that marketing mix, we’re going to achieve what will then be our key performance indicators,” Deneson said.

In addition to identifying which channels are available, cannabis marketers also need to think about which channels their target audience is surfing, how they’re delivering their message on each, and generating conversions for their CTAs. In this way, cannabis marketing doesn’t differ from other industries, both restricted and not.

“We need to know what we’re trying to ask people to do,” she added. “If we want to drive foot traffic to a retail dispensary for a doorbuster sale, then a robust text message marketing channel is the most effective way to do that. If we want more of a long form campaign with multiple calls to action, email is still the most effective way to stay connected with cannabis consumers.”

Repurposing content for multiple marketing channels

After selecting all available marketing channels that will be effective, it’s time to develop content for each of them. The old adage “work smarter, not harder” can go a long way when running an omnichannel or multichannel marketing campaign for your cannabis business. Especially when you need to create content that will run across multiple channels, it’s best to reduce the workload by creating one piece of anchor content that can the be repurposed for use across other channels. 

For example, if you’ve taken the time to interview a subject matter expert for a webinar, consider creating a blog post that recaps the session for those who couldn’t attend; create an email send that promotes the content; and promote it before and after on social media. By doing so, you can reach as many members of your target audience in as many places as possible. With luck, you’ll reach some of those customers multiple times, an important metric when taking the slightly outdated, but still relevant “rule of 7” into account.

However, when repurposing content, it’s critical to think about how it should look in the context of each marketing channel — it’s not just a copy/paste affair. For example, a 1,500 word blog post is very different from a related Instagram post linking back to that page. Both will look quite different from a related email aimed at driving your customers to your dispensary menu or your ecommerce store. A paid display ad on a publication’s website will look and feel differently still. Although you might be able to borrow that same content and tweak it for each platform, ensuring it’s optimized for the marketing channel you’re targeting is critical.

“Do not skip that step of making sure the creative, the messaging, the way in which you’re engaging with the community makes good sense [for the platform you’re publishing on],” Deneson said. “That includes things like making sure on Instagram it’s a ‘link in bio’ and not just a link dropped into an unlinkable space. That just looks like you’re cutting corners, and if you’re taking the time and effort to reach out and connect, it’s worth making sure your content is polished in each environment.”

How to maintain brand consistency when repurposing content

This need to optimize repurposed content for the channel on which it appears must also be balanced with keeping your brand’s appearance consistent. Although the content will need to be adjusted, it should always be done so with your brand book in mind, including your color scheme, tone of voice, messaging, and style.

“It’s still your brand, and it still has to have the same effect,” Deneson said. “It’s important to show up as glorious as you possibly can be. Make sure that for each incredibly precious moment you have somebody’s attention that you value it by being your absolute best polished self.”

Not sure how to start developing your brand? Check out our cannabis brand planning guide that can get you started in just 420 minutes!

Once your content is created and optimized for each marketing channel and you’ve ensured it reflects your brand properly, you can begin publishing. Create a schedule that strategically targets users in a way that keeps your brand, product, or service top of mind and gives you as many opportunities as possible to reach your target audience.

Measuring the effectiveness of omnichannel marketing 

Once your campaign is underway and content has been published across multiple platforms, you’ll want to understand how well it’s working. That’s where tracking and analyzing results comes in, and there are a few important ways to do it.

“Attribution and measurement is one of the most complex parts of marketing,” Denson said. “But of all the KPIs I look at, most simply is for each individual instance of our call to action, did they do what we asked them to do?

“If we want them to enthusiastically opt into our newsletter, did they do it? If we ask them to go to a webpage, did they spend more than one minute or ideally two minutes on that page? If we ask them to share it, did they do it? If we ask them to come to a webinar or event, did they RSVP and did they actually show up?”

These examples include important marketing metrics such as open rate, clickthrough rate (CTR), dwell time, and engagement rate. However, Deneson said, as important as these “micro metrics” are, marketers should also consider the “macro” circumstances surrounding a campaign.

“For example, clickthrough rate attribution can be very difficult but what you may be able to see is that there’s an overall lift on your website, or an overall lift on your direct-to-consumer sales,” Deneson said. “We can’t always tie it one to one because, let’s face it, your memory gets jogged and what do you do? You go to Google and type it into the search bar.”

That type of traffic coming from organic search may seem tied to your SEO content strategy, not an omnichannel marketing campaign. But your campaign may be the reason that the user’s interest was piqued in the first place. So take a look at your data analytics before launching a campaign to understand a benchmark and then determine whether your campaign may have boosted key metrics after.

When your audience changes the channel, your message should still reach them

Your audience is constantly channel surfing, and with the right planning your omnichannel marketing campaign can be an effective way to reach them in multiple places. Consider which channels are worth your time and effort, and then identify ways you can easily repurpose content for each marketing channel in your plan. When done right, omnichannel marketing enables you to consistently remind users about your brand and its value proposition, keeping you top of mind when they are ready to buy. It also offers more opportunities to generate CTA conversions, whether that’s driving more sales, qualifying leads, attracting new customers, or anything else.

Need help running your cannabis marketing campaigns? Contact CannaContent for an introductory call with an expert team of cannabis marketers or request a quote for a custom proposal today!