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!

A 420-Minute Roadmap To Planning Your Brand

A 420-Minute Roadmap To Planning Your Brand

Building a brand takes time, effort, and strategy, but you have to start somewhere. If you have 420 minutes — that’s 7 hours — you can sketch out the broad strokes of your business idea, brand strategy, and how you plan to reach your target audience. And what better time to start planning your cannabis marketing and brand strategy than 4/20? To celebrate, the CannaContent team pooled together their decades of collective experience in branding and marketing to inform this “speedrun,” showing you how to get started on the right road. 

1. What’s your business idea?

Estimated time: 60 minutes

There’s a chance you have some idea of what you want to do in the cannabis industry. And even if you don’t, the first and most important step is to decide what you want to do, whether you’re refining an initial thought or deciding how you want to contribute to the canna-space. 

Start by getting to know the cannabis industry and the sector in which you’ll operate to strengthen your idea. Use this time to sign up for industry newsletters like MJBizDaily, WeedWeek, and Marijuana Moment; read articles about cannabis business and the market segment you plan to enter; and connect with thought leaders on social platforms like LinkedIn. Build the foundations for further reading that will help you refine your business idea and set the stage for the brand-building steps ahead.

As you gain more insight into how the industry works, think about your skills and the role your business could play. What value propositions do you bring to the table that might set your business apart from the competition? You don’t need all the answers to these questions right away, but considering them while doing your research can help to improve your initial business idea and connect it to the real conditions on the ground in the cannabis industry.

2. Who are your customers?

Estimated time: 90 minutes

As your business idea takes shape, think about who your customers might be and what their needs are. For example, a dispensary should think about consumers in a retail environment and how to provide the best quality products and a seamless, enjoyable experience. A seed-to-sale software company, on the other hand, would be selling to breeders, cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries. Who your customers are and what they need should influence your brand and marketing strategies. The more specific you can be, the better!

Once you’ve articulated who your customers are, think about how best to reach them. What social media platforms are they active on? Would they engage with an email newsletter? How best could you drive them to your website? Also consider messaging and how you might be able to differentiate yourself from the competition. What is special about your business that customers should choose you over another company? Addressing these questions are the first steps toward creating a more detailed omnichannel marketing strategy.

3. What kind of company do you want to run?

Estimated time: 90 minutes

As your business idea takes shape and you identify your target audience, you can start thinking more specifically about your brand. A brand is more than just a logo; it includes your entire aesthetic and vibe, including elements like your brand colors and the tone of voice you will use in your messaging. Your brand should be authentic and relatable to your target audience, reflecting your core values, mission, and value propositions. It should also take into account how you want your company to be perceived by others, particularly your customers.

These initial 120 minutes should be spent researching your market segment and seeing what else is out there. What are some brands that you like and what do you like about them? Are there any brands you don’t like? What are some opportunities to cut through the noise and really grab your audience’s attention in a unique way? Your research here will serve as the inspiration for pulling together a more complete brand down the line.

4. What do you need to make your business idea happen?

Estimated time: 75 minutes

Now that you have an idea of what your brand might look and feel like, you can start thinking about the practical tools and services you need to bring your business to life. The first few minutes of this time can be used to secure some important digital assets, like a domain name and social media handles. Use Google’s domain service or a broker like GoDaddy or Namecheap to search for and buy URLs, then head to Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms to create your business profiles. Securing these properties as soon as you have a name in mind guarantees you’ll be able to build a strong digital presence.

Use the rest of this time to make a short list of the types of vendors you may need to support your business. Attorneys and CPAs are absolute must-haves in the cannabis industry, so research some of the professionals with experience serving cannabis businesses like yours. Also consider what types of business software that could benefit your company, like accounting software, a project management system, and communications tools. Take a cursory look at each type of software you’ll need and identify some of the leading vendors that might have solutions for you.

Finally, certain businesses will need additional tools specific to their operations. For example, dispensaries require support for licensing applications and a menu provider to give their customers an easy way to choose from their inventory. Manufacturers need specialized equipment in order to create their products. Create a list of what else your business needs and how much it might cost.

5. Who brings your vision to life?

Estimated time: 60 minutes

Making your vision for your brand a reality requires expert marketers who can take your ideas and run with them. Having a team of seasoned professionals in your corner ensures you’re investing your marketing budget in the most effective possible way and getting the most out of every dollar. They can also help you devise marketing strategies, brainstorm new ideas, and stay on top of trends in the space so you remain at a competitive advantage. Take some of this time to review marketing agency portfolios, testimonials, and case studies.

Hopefully, though, we can save you some time on that front. At CannaContent, our team of expert writers, designers, and marketers have been dedicated to serving cannabis businesses since 2017. We know the space inside and out, so we know what it takes to build a brand that will make a big impact. Branding and marketing is critical, so don’t go it alone.

If you’re ready to launch your cannabis marketing to new heights, check out the services we offer and contact us for a free introductory call.

In addition to a team of marketers, you should work with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights. Setting up your brand as a registered trademark and copyrighting your proprietary products and processes makes your brand more than just a marketing tool — it creates an asset. Consider whether your general counsel has the expertise to handle these matters, or if going with an attorney dedicated to trademark and copyright law, and particularly one with experience trademarking cannabis brands, may give you an edge.

6. How will you introduce your brand to the world?

Estimated time: 45 minutes 

So, now you have a clear picture of the business you want to build, how you want to brand it, and the tools and services it will take to get you there. Once all that work comes together, though, you’ll still need to spread the word far and wide about your company. Spend the last 45 minutes of your brand planning to think about the ways you’ll do that. This can include big things, like whether you’ll make a formal announcement or host an event to launch your business, as well as simpler things like business cards, web development, email marketing, and so on. 

Remember: it’s not just your target customers you will want to reach, but also other members of the industry. Research networking groups and conferences to become a familiar face in the room. The more you and your brand show up in these spaces, the more valuable connections you are likely to make. No one succeeds in a vacuum, so create a list of different organizations you can join and events you can attend to start plugging your brand into the broader community.

Ready to start building your cannabis brand?

While seven hours of planning is only the very start of your journey, it can go a long way to setting you up for success. When you’re ready to get down to the actual work of building your brand, that’s where CannaContent comes in. From design and web development to social media management and content marketing, our team acts as your dedicated digital marketing department. We’re here to support you in all aspects of your cannabis business’s branding and marketing in strategy, planning, and execution. 

Want to learn more about what sets CannaContent apart? Contact us for a quote or to request case studies of some of our favorite success stories.

What Recent THC Lawsuits Can Teach Us About Accuracy in Marketing

What Recent THC Lawsuits Can Teach Us About Accuracy in Marketing

In cannabis, trust is paramount. Consumers need to understand that test results and labeling reflect what’s really in their cannabis products. For brands, building consumer trust is key to long-term success. Unfortunately, circumstances ranging from labs with inconsistent or unreliable testing procedures to intentional misrepresentation create situations where trust isn’t always a given.

Although favorable test results may provide a brand with a short-term boost to sales, they create the long-term risks of loss of customer trust, costly litigation, and potential regulatory consequences. As a result, it’s critical that cannabis brands do their due diligence to make sure their products’ test results and labeling are always as accurate as possible, creating a relationship with their customers that’s built on honesty and transparency.

Why are some consumers taking big-name brands to court?

Multiple cannabis companies have been named as defendants in class action lawsuits alleging they inaccurately portrayed the THC content of their products. While it’s important to note that being named in a lawsuit does not imply that any of the companies named in said lawsuits are guilty of the charges, it is an expensive prospect that should give all cannabis brands pause about what claims make it into their marketing materials.

The first of the recent lawsuits was filed in October 2022 against DreamField Brands, alleging that Jeeter pre-rolled joints were mislabeled, inflating THC content by as much as 23% in some cases. The brand denies the allegations, though plaintiffs claim independent testing found that joints labeled as containing 46% THC actually contained 23% to 27%.

By December 2022, other, similar lawsuits were filed against cannabis brands, including Stiiizy and Presidential Cannabis. In each lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged the brands labeled their cannabis products as containing more THC than independent lab test results revealed.

According to California state law, cannabis producers must label their products with accurate THC content within “plus or minus 10%” of actual levels. That’s a huge difference.

The lawsuits state that the alleged mislabeling constitutes false advertising that allowed companies to increase the price of the products. Whether the lawsuits are successful or not, they represent costly marketing missteps for the defendants, who will now need to enter litigation or settle with the defendants over their claims.

And it’s not just in California that lawsuits are cropping up. An Arkansas medical cannabis patient has filed suit against a testing lab and multiple growers. That lawsuit claims that the lab, Steep Hill, comes back with inflated THC percentages, thus incentivizing growers to work with the lab instead of other laboratories. That lawsuit, which is ongoing, was originally filed in Pulaski County Circuity Court, but was ultimately referred to federal court.

That’s the issue at the crux of these lawsuits: a phenomenon known as lab shopping, in which cultivators cherry pick those laboratories that provide them with favorable test results.

Lab shopping and THC inflation: How are they connected?

Lab shopping, or the practice of choosing a cannabis testing laboratory based on favorable results, has been a problem in legal cannabis markets from the beginning. In California, in particular, lab shopping has historically been commonplace, thanks to a lack of standardized regulations facing testing labs. 

Primarily, lab shopping involves finding the laboratory that produces the highest percentage THC results, since many consumers purchase products based on the THC potency (even though that metric is not the sole measure of cannabis quality.) In addition, though, it may even include submitting samples to different labs to pass tests like heavy metals tests or residual solvents tests, even when other samples may have failed elsewhere.

The state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is working on eliminating this practice from the California market. The DCC recently established a set of regulations governing testing laboratories with the goal of ensuring certificates of analysis (CoA) are accurate, consistent, and reliable.

Among those regulations are requirements that laboratories report all test results to the DCC, upload CoAs to the state’s track and trace system, and that distributors either destroy batches of goods that fail testing or remediate them under a DCC approved remediation plan. Laboratories must also become ISO/IEC 17025 accredited, establish standard operating procedures (SOPs), implement a quality assurance program, and participate in a proficiency testing program.

These regulations are meant to reduce instances of lab shopping or inaccurate results, which are key considerations for building consumer trust in brands and the market at large.

It’s not all about THC: Marketing cannabis products responsibly

The root of the problem comes back to a misconception about what cannabis marketing should do: When focus is on the sale, education gets lost in the sauce (pun intended). Consumers in legal cannabis markets generally seek out products with high percentages of THC, and these high-THC products can fetch higher prices as a result. The market responds in kind, breeding flower and manufacturing products that meet this demand.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, this shortsighted approach has a few key drawbacks.

Bust the high THC myth

Most consumers, and particularly in adult use markets, seek out high THC products because they believe, since THC is the primary compound that causes intoxication, more THC will make them feel higher. As a result, brands have raced to produce higher THC products, encouraging mislabeling or overestimating of THC content, either inadvertently or deliberately. 

Consumer education, though, rejects chasing this market dynamic that’s based in popular misconception. Brands that educate consumers through thoughtful, omnichannel content marketing campaigns can help dispel the myth that, not only does more THC not equate to greater product quality, but it doesn’t even mean a product will make you feel higher. 

Cannabis contains more than 100 phytocannabinoids and 200 terpenes, many of which have the potential to alter the consumption experience through the entourage effect. These compounds can significantly alter how high a consumer feels, or what types of feelings they experience. 

For example, a cultivar (strain) that’s high in THC but also high in CBD may result in less intoxication than a cultivar that contains less THC but no CBD. Similarly, a cultivar that contains high levels of terpenes like myrcene and linalool may be more likely to result in feelings of drowsiness and couch-lock, while those with high levels of limonene and pinene may be more likely to prompt an uplifting and energizing experience.

By educating consumers about this reality, brands can help their customers choose products more wisely and build trust with their consumers. Even when consumers are after the most potent possible high, elevated THC percentage isn’t always their best bet — and a well-crafted content marketing campaign helps inform them of their best options. 

Avoid running afoul of regulations and social channel terms of service

In the lawsuits, it’s alleged that companies have violated a California law that THC percentage must be accurately labeled within 10%. Importantly, there’s natural variability between plants, and it’s possible that products from the same batch can have different THC percentage measurements. Of course, brands are required to include cannabinoid content on the labels of their products, but there is no such requirement that their broader marketing campaigns be focused on THC percentage.

Brands that rely on high THC driving most of their sales, claiming they offer the highest percentage of THC on the market, are opening themselves up to repercussions from regulators and legal action. Those who instead prioritize consumer education and establish themselves as trustworthy sources in the cannabis industry can secure loyalty and repeat purchases. Best of all, educational content generally doesn’t violate state regulations and, in many cases, can even be shared on social media channels without violating most platform’s terms of service.

Of course, basing a content marketing strategy on consumer education means a dedication to informing consumers before selling them. Always bear in mind that, while tactics like exaggerating THC percentages may be the fashion of the day, content marketing for consumer education is about long-term stability through building consumer trust and brand loyalty. 

 

Cannabis content marketing for consumer education

Putting education first in your cannabis content marketing strategy means sometimes prioritizing the reality of a product’s effects than leaning on hype. Rather than lab shopping to find the test results that provide the most favorable THC percentage, for example, a brand could create content educating consumers as to why there’s a lot more to cannabis quality than just how much THC a sample contains.

Content marketing means reaching your target audience on multiple channels as well. So, while you might host the bulk of your content on a blog on your website, think about how you can adapt each piece to other channels too. Content should be developed with social media and email marketing in mind, for example. Advertising in partnership with key retailers can help drive your message home. Or, if your audience frequently reads a particular publication, see if you can submit an article or sponsor content there. 

The purpose of educational content marketing is to establish your brand as a trusted source of information, forward thinking entity in the space, and purveyor of quality products and services. Where other brands might engage in questionable tactics like lab shopping, a well-crafted content marketing campaign instead dispels those smoke and mirrors to help consumers understand what’s actually important when choosing cannabis products. And, best of all, it’s an honest approach that, when done with regulatory compliance in mind, won’t later land a brand in hot water with consumers and officials.

Choose consumer education over deceptive advertising

Brands that make lofty claims may drive sales in the short term, but they’re likely to come crashing down if those claims are proven to be false. Instead of trying to deceive consumers or over-hype your products and services, choose instead to educate them about the realities of the space in which you operate. Help your target audience make the best possible choice for them, rather than pushing them to buy now through disingenuous marketing tactics. In the end, the result will be a loyal customer base, a wider reach, and insulation from lawsuits and fines that less scrupulous brands will inevitably suffer.

If you need support for your cannabis brand’s digital marketing efforts, contact CannaContent today for a specialized proposal tailor-made for your business’s needs.

 

How Long Does It Take For SEO Content To Rank On Google?

How Long Does It Take For SEO Content To Rank On Google?

As content marketers, one of the most common questions we hear from clients is “how long will it take for my pages to reach the top of Google?” It’s a fair question from anyone investing in web development and content marketing, even if the answer may be quite complicated. To help demystify SEO and content marketing and explain how long it takes to see results – and what influences those results – we’ve created this handy guide that breaks down the most important factors.

How long does SEO content take to rank on search engines?

As a baseline, SEO content can take between three to six months to begin ranking on search engines like Google. The reality, however, is far more nuanced. How long it takes for SEO content to rank on a search engine, and how high up it will eventually rise, depends on myriad factors. 

We get it; “it depends” isn’t the most satisfying answer to this question. And while the three to six months baseline is a good barometer, it is just that — a barometer. Whether you rank and how quickly you do so depends largely on your ability to check lots of boxes that aren’t just about what you write, although that’s certainly a significant factor. One thing is true for all native content marketing efforts: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What factors influence how long SEO content takes to rank?

There are many factors that influence how long it takes any given piece of SEO content to appear in search results, and how high they’ll climb in search engine results pages (SERPs). When creating SEO-driven content, consider the following:

  • Targeted keywords: The keywords that are relevant to your audience matter, and the more competitive the keywords you pursue, the more difficult it may be to rank. For example, attempting to rank for general keywords like “cannabis” are too challenging and likely present little value to your customer. Instead, choosing more specific, less competitive keywords may help your site build authority more quickly and attract more relevant online searchers to your pages.
  • Page speed: A big piece of SEO is user experience, and nothing drags down user experience than a site that moves like a sloth. Slow loading pages frustrate users and lead to a higher bounce rate, which measures how quickly someone leaves your site after viewing a single page. A too-high bounce rate reflects negatively on your site. For this reason (and many others!), search engines generally prioritize websites with faster page load speeds.
  • Mobile experience: Have you ever tried to navigate a website on your phone where you can’t read the text properly or you can’t tap on any links or buttons? It could be that your site isn’t properly formatted for mobile. With the majority of searches taking place on smartphones, an improperly formatted mobile view can ensure that even the best content doesn’t get any views. It’s critical your pages are adaptable to these platforms. Search engines know this and prioritize mobile responsive designs.
  • Content structure: The content itself is not the only important piece of the puzzle. How it’s presented to the user also matters. Structuring content in such a way that makes it easy to read and digest can help a page rank more quickly. Organizing topics in a way that reinforces the main keyword and any associated keywords you’re targeting is an essential component as well.
  • Linking: What you link to and how you link to it are also important factors when it comes to ranking on a search engine. This is particularly important when it comes to linking to other related content on your website, as it gives search engines a clear path to crawl and index multiple pages. The reverse is true, too — valuable content increases the possibility that another site links to your blog, which in turn indicates to search engines that your site is one providing worthwhile information.
  • Metadata: Elements like page title, meta description, and URL slug can help search engines better understand how to index your content. Optimizing these elements for the keyword you’re targeting can go a long way to expediting the time it takes for a piece of content to rank.
  • Domain authority: Your domain authority is a measure of the way your website is perceived by search engines. This metric was developed by third parties, and although it’s not in itself a metric weighed by search engines, the components that contribute to domain authority can all impact your performance on search engines.

Generally, we think of domain authority as a composite ranking that signals to search engines how reliable and useful your website and the content on it are to users. Building strong domain authority requires an extensive library of updated and accurate content, as well as backlinks from other authoritative sources. Even if you write the best and most optimized blog post ever written on a topic, it likely won’t gain traction unless your broader website has a healthy domain authority.

What’s the best way to improve search engine rankings?

To rank well on search engines like Google and Bing, and to do so as quickly as possible, it’s critical to apply a holistic SEO strategy that takes into account all the factors that influence what appears on the SERP. 

1. Develop a website with sound technical SEO principles

Content marketing doesn’t start with web copy and blogging, it starts with web development. Unless it’s housed on a technically optimized and secure website, any content you create isn’t likely to gain much traction. So building an optimized site from the ground up is the first critical step to take when creating a foundation for your content marketing strategy. 

If you already have a website and want to begin content marketing, it’s a good idea to perform a site audit first. In addition to web development services, CannaContent offers a thorough site audit that covers dozens of important technical SEO elements to make sure your website is well-positioned to rank before publishing a single blog. After all, why spend the time and effort creating content if you’re not set up for success?

2. Conduct comprehensive keyword research

Once your website is optimized, you can dive into the keywords that your audience is using in their queries on search engines. Choosing relevant keywords that have a good balance between competitiveness and search volume is key. Doing so will help you capture a significant amount of traffic from users that are also interested in the information, products, and services you offer.

Properly performing keyword research requires getting into the mind of the average user in your target audience. Called searcher intent, this explores what and why of an online search. It also involves some creative thinking and data collection, which can be time consuming. That’s why at CannaContent we build keyword research into our content marketing process, using some of the best SEO tools out there to help devise a keyword strategy that will boost your brand’s content to new heights.

3. Create helpful content with on page SEO in mind

When users are searching for information, they want answers, not sales pitches. That’s why it’s important to create your content with education in mind. Google recently unveiled its Helpful Content SEO update and explicitly stated that content users found helpful and informative would be prioritized in the SERP. This means answering questions directly, succinctly, and completely, providing users with a positive experience and leaving them satisfied that they were able to find the information they needed. This is still true, even in the era of ChatGPT and other AI-assisted writing tools.

In addition, helpful content means considering how users are searching for it. While many still type queries into a search bar, the rise of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri mean more and more users are relying on voice search to access web content. Structuring your content in a way that takes this into consideration will be key to competing well into the future.

4. Share your content far and wide

Once your content is published, be sure to share it with your entire network. Distribute the link on your social channels and in email newsletters. Not only will this help drive traffic to your website and promote your brand as an expert in your space, it will also increase the likelihood that other sources link to your content — and backlinks are critical for boosting your domain authority. 

When you work with CannaContent for both content marketing and social media management, this becomes a seamless process. Our content and social teams are tightly integrated, so one hand always knows what the other is doing. Once a piece of content is published, it can easily be added to the social calendar to ensure as many people in your target audience see it as possible.

Work with an expert SEO team for the best results

Content marketing is a full time job and it can be difficult to properly manage when you’re trying to run a business. If you want to implement an SEO strategy that helps you rise to the top of the SERP, your best bet is to work with a team of professional SEOs and content creators. By outsourcing your content marketing strategy, you can take the burden off your internal team and ensure that you’re consistently publishing high quality content that is perfectly optimized. And, when it comes to cannabis content marketing, you’ll want to partner with industry specialists like the team at CannaContent. If you’re looking for the best content the hemp and cannabis industry has to offer, we’ve got your back — contact CannaContent today.