Why Is Video So Important For Marketing Cannabis on Social Media?

Why Is Video So Important For Marketing Cannabis on Social Media?

Video content is the current undisputed star in social media marketing. This medium is reshaping how companies connect with customers and stand out in a crowded marketplace. Nearly every marketer — 99% of marketers, according to Hubspot — reports that they plan to continue using video over the coming year.

How can cannabis businesses take advantage of this powerful medium? Learn what makes video so effective for social media marketing and how you can use it for your cannabis business.

10 reasons to use video on your cannabis company’s social media profiles

Through video, cannabis brands can tell stories, showcase personalities, and convey messages in a way that resonates with customers. While you may need to get creative with how you leverage video for social media — thanks to the numerous guidelines that disallow cannabis content on popular platforms — good cannabis marketers are used to thinking outside the box.

1. Video engages all generations

Video content is the preferred format among all generations, and particularly among the 50% of millennials and Gen Z who claim they “don’t know how they’d get through life” without video in their daily lives. More than half of boomers watch videos, while 75% of Gen Xers engage with video content at least monthly. There’s lots of variety here when it comes to video length, preferred device for watching, and preferred platform, but the essentials are the same: people love watching videos.

By creating and sharing engaging, informative content, videos reach consumers where they are. Videos possess a unique ability to captivate attention and convey emotions, whether the average age of your audience is 25 or 85.

2. Viewers are more likely to share videos

Just over half of social media users are more likely to share videos with their friends over graphics and other types of content. By providing the content viewers want, you increase your chances of reaching new audiences who may not follow you already. 

3. Converts viewers to buyers

A well-crafted video can help nudge potential customers one step closer to buying from or working with your business. Videos help people understand your product or service in a quick and easy to digest manner, with an incredible 96% of consumers saying they watch an explainer video before they buy a product. No wonder 92% of marketers say that video offers a positive return on investment

4. Your brand is more accessible and personable through video  

Videos serve as a dynamic tool in humanizing your brand to your customer base. The ability to command attention and tell a story creates opportunities to build stronger connections with your audience and engage with your audience on a more personal level. Content like behind-the-scenes videos and interviews show the human side of your business — and humans like to connect with other humans.

5. You can make it work on a budget

Not all videos need a boost from professionals with high-grade equipment (don’t get us wrong — many circumstances call for this proper setup). You can create good video content for social media with a modest budget and items you already have on hand. Considering the kind of mileage you can get out of video, you may find that this medium is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools in your arsenal.

Think about it this way. Shoot one video – a video that could be as simple as someone talking to the camera – and it can be edited for use on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, X (fka Twitter), and Pinterest. That’s seven platforms out of a single video! And that’s not including the omnichannel marketing opportunities you can make work for your campaigns. Extending this logic, a single day of filming can yield weeks or months of content that can be edited, remixed, and repurposed in numerous ways. 

6. Videos have a longer shelf-life

Video content is also known to stick around longer than traditional content. For example, TikTok videos can resurface in users’ For You Pages for weeks or months after publication. This ensures that your content will continue to engage and captivate audiences long after it’s first shared. 

7. Video improves exposure and engagement 

If you’ve logged onto social media recently, a video probably came up first on your feed. This is because video content typically performs best with most social media algorithms due to its ability to capture the viewer’s attention for longer periods of time. 

Videos are also more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. Studies show that video is shared 1,200% more than images and text combined. This is especially true for live videos, which have the highest engagement rate of all content types

Don’t shy away from incorporating live streams into your socials now and then. However, prepare yourself with a clear objective and structured outline to ensure your message comes across successfully. 

8. Provides powerful and valuable data 

Did you know that YouTube’s algorithm for recommendations drives 70% of what people watch on the platform

Incorporating video content into your social media strategy unlocks a treasure trove of valuable geographic and demographic data to analyze. This approach can empower your brand to create more content based on your viewer’s online behaviors. Utilizing these analytics also provides the data you need to test narratives and formats to determine which types of content are being watched in full — and subsequently appeal more to the interests of your followers. 

9. Makes info more digestible 

Whether through animations, demonstrations, or real-life examples, video transforms intricate ideas into accessible, bite-sized portions of knowledge. Studies continuously indicate that social media users gravitate toward concise content, with the majority unlikely to engage with lengthy captions or graphics. Utilizing video content is a great way to condense complex concepts into visually engaging narratives, ultimately facilitating a quicker understanding for the audience. 

10. Allows for more creative freedom

Video content provides an open canvas for new ideas. Unlike static images or written text, videos are a dynamic way to experiment with storytelling techniques, visual effects, music, and more. The use of sound, for example, can help direct an idea and bring traction to your video where you least expect it. With video, your brand will more easily capture the audience’s attention and showcase your unique identity, visions, and values. 

Achieving success with social media video content 

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of video’s role in social media marketing strategy, it’s time to take it to the next level: actually creating good content. For starters, you’ll need a handle on your target demographic, what those in that demo want to see, and the social media platform you’re using. But once those basics are down pat, there are a few specifics to keep in mind when it’s time to start creating.

What are the most effective types of video content?

Each type of video on social media has its own unique role to play in engaging your audience and conveying your message. Some of the most effective types of video content for social media include: 

  • Live videos: Engage your audience in real time with authentic and interactive videos. These can help bridge a stronger, more personal connection between your brand or company and the viewers. 

  • Product reviews: Offer authentic and informative insights into your products with product review videos, whether recorded by your team or influencers in your network. These videos help demonstrate the value and benefits of your products while offering customers the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision. Plus, customers are more motivated to buy something after watching a video about it.

  • Client testimonials: Showcase footage of satisfied customers sharing their positive experience with your products or services. This provides vital social proof that helps build trust among potential clients.

  • Behind-the-scenes footage: Provide a glimpse of the inner workings of your business. This offers transparency and helps to humanize your brand to build deeper connections with your target audience. 

  • User-generated content (UGC): Highlight videos created by your customers. This helps foster a sense of community while building continued trust with your customer base. To boot, leveraging UGC significantly reduces your team’s production time and costs. 

4 tips for successful videos on TikTok and beyond

Crafting compelling videos for social media involves a blend of creativity, strategy, and technical know-how. Consider these four essential tips to ensure your videos stand out: 

1. Understand regulatory requirements: It’s especially important for cannabis brands to familiarize themselves with any laws or regulations governing content in their field. Adhering to these requirements will keep you compliant and build trust with your audience. For example, if a social media platform explicitly says no smoking, don’t post a video that shows you lighting up a joint.

2. Keep it short and sweet: Attention spans on social media are limited, so delivering your message quickly and efficiently is crucial for retaining engagement. Keep videos concise and to the point. The sweet spot for “longer” videos is 2 to 10 minutes, but some platforms don’t allow longer videos as a rule. Plan your content around the time constraints of your chosen platform.

3. Prioritize accessibility: Ensure your videos are inclusive by providing closed captions or subtitles. Platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn do this for you automatically, or you can work with a transcription service or software to take this on for you. On a related note, be sure to use clear visuals and avoid overly complex graphics so audiences of all abilities can clearly understand what you’re doing.

4. Invest in quality: Good lighting, clear audio, and stable shots make all the difference in the world. These items elevate your video into one that looks polished and professional. Trust us, it’s worth the investment.

Elevate your social media video marketing strategy with professional expertise 

Even armed with all this insight, we understand that diving into video marketing can feel like a daunting task when going at it alone. That’s where a professional cannabis digital marketing agency like CannaContent comes in. Our team of experts offers specialized knowledge of the cannabis industry to guide you through the process of formulating an outstanding video market plan. From ideation to execution, we’re here to help you create content that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your brand’s vision and goals. If you’re ready to bring your cannabis brand to the next level, request a quote today.

The “Dreaded” Social Media Algorithm: What Is It – And Can Cannabis Businesses Take Advantage Of It?

The “Dreaded” Social Media Algorithm: What Is It – And Can Cannabis Businesses Take Advantage Of It?

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No; it’s The Algorithm! 

You’ve no doubt heard references to “the algorithm” on social media, particularly when it comes to the types of content you’re most likely to see. You may have even heard people talk about manipulating the algorithm, leveraging it to serve the content they want to see most. 

But what really is this vaguely named concept and how does it work? Do we even know how it works? There are tons of questions around whether a social media algorithm can be manipulated and how to leverage insights from well-performing content as part of your own strategy. We answer these questions and more in this guide to the social media algorithm and how it works.

What is the algorithm in social media?

A social media algorithm is a set of rules used to determine which content on any given platform gets served to which users at what times. These algorithms often change.

Social media algorithms are wildly complex, taking into account a vast array of data points such as the accounts a user follows, the content they typically engage with, the content they avoid, their search engine queries, and other websites they’ve visited. A social media platform’s algorithm is why you might suddenly notice a lot of cannabis products on your feed after liking a post featuring a cannabis flower and following the account that shared it, for example.

Social media algorithms also determine how the content you post and share is served to other users. This makes it an important concept to understand for social media marketers and brands that want to extend their reach to more users in their target audience.

If you want to learn more about social media marketing for cannabis businesses, check out these must-use social media channels for cannabis marketing.

How do I control my social media algorithm?

It’s less about control and more about influence.

Your social media marketing efforts will go farther if you can leverage the algorithm for your own goals. That’s certainly easier said than done, as social media platforms aren’t typically eager to release details about how their algorithms work. It takes trial and error, some research, competitor monitoring, trend monitoring, and thinking ahead of the curve to take advantage of the algorithm — but it can be done. 

Here are some tips on how to increase the odds social media algorithms favor your content:

Check out what’s trending: Before you start creating content, take some time to peruse what’s already trending in cannabis. Follow some prominent cannabis brands, especially those in your market segment, and check out what they’re doing. Take note of how your feed evolves as you engage with this content and follow more accounts, as this can tip you off to what sort of content the algorithm is currently favoring.

Share relevant, high quality content: Make sure you’re putting a lot of thought and effort into delivering relevant, quality content to your followers. Demonstrate your credibility with links to educational resources and trustworthy organizations. Ask yourself with every post whether your content provides value to your followers and whether it’s relevant to your business or what’s trending.

Prioritize video content: Videos are critical to harnessing the algorithm because they get more views and more engagement from users. That’s part of what makes TikTok such a powerful platform and why so many other platforms, like Meta products Instagram and Facebook, have followed suit with their own video-based products.

This is especially true for live videos, so don’t be afraid to live stream now and then. If you do, though, don’t just wing it. Livestream with purpose and have a general outline in mind so you can get to the point in a succinct yet effective way.

Include hashtags, tags, and mentions: Every post you share on social media should include trending hashtags relevant to your content. Whenever applicable, also include tags and mentions to other people and accounts in cannabis. This demonstrates that you’re active and involved in the space, especially if they also start tagging and mentioning you in their content. Be careful not to overdo it, though — too many hashtags, and the algorithm may interpret your post as spammy.

Create engagement opportunities: Engagement begets engagement, so plan deliberate opportunities to invite your followers to interact with your content. Whether you post a poll or survey, plan a promotion like a contest, or just ask your followers to comment with their opinion, including these opportunities can go a long way to boosting your content in the eyes of the platform’s algorithm.

Post often and schedule upcoming content: Consistency is critical when it comes to social media, so establish a content calendar and stick to it. At minimum, you should be posting a few times per week. To make this a lighter lift that requires less micromanaging, try planning your calendar a few weeks to a month in advance and scheduling your posts ahead of time. That way, you know you have a strong foundation in place and can build on it accordingly.

Engage in cross-platform promotions and collaborations: Your overall profile can help boost you on individual social media platforms as well, so don’t neglect other channels.

Cross-platform promotions are one way to maximize your content, although it’s important to note that each piece of content should be properly formatted and optimized for each platform.

Collaborations with other creators can help you reach more eyeballs, gain more followers, and drive engagement as well. This, in turn, can help you leverage the algorithm to serve your content to a broader audience.

Consider paid social: Advertisements are an effective way to reach users in specific geographic locations or demographics, even if they don’t follow you. It can help you gain new followers, spread brand awareness, and drive more engagement.

In cannabis, paid advertisements are not always allowed, depending on a social media platform’s terms of service. That hasn’t stopped many cannabis companies from getting creative and finding ways to run successful campaigns. We recommend you consult with a digital marketing agency that specializes in cannabis social media marketing to make sure you don’t run afoul of these rules.

These best practices can help you better leverage social media algorithms and deliver a better user experience. Even if the algorithm doesn’t immediately pick up on the fact that you’ve implemented these improvements, your audience will, leading to more engagement, more followers, and broader reach.

Looking for some cannabis social media marketing inspiration? Follow CannaContent on Instagram or TikTok for inspiration — and be sure to say hello!

Are social media algorithms secret?

Yes, social media platforms keep their algorithms secret. As a result, it can be difficult to know precisely what’s going on under the hood, much like search engine algorithms that influence how long it takes for SEO content to rank on a search engine results page. That doesn’t mean you’re left totally in the dark, though. Part of a social media expert’s responsibilities are to take note of what’s trending on each platform and measure how algorithms are responding to content.

Social media platforms also periodically update their algorithm. When an update is released, the platform may release update notes that hint at what the changes mean for users. For example, Facebook recently tweaked its algorithm to prioritize posting in Groups and Events, making these features more important for brands than ever before. While Facebook did not release the details of how this change would work, you can infer that hosting or attending events or organizing groups would be beneficial to lifting your overall content.

Social media platform algorithms, explained

Here’s a look at what we know about the algorithms for some of the most popular social media platforms used by cannabis businesses today. Whether you want to boost brand awareness or raise your personal profile, understanding how these algorithms work can lead to success on each social media platform.

Instagram algorithm explained

These factors are the most prevalent when it comes to Instagram’s algorithm

  • Connections: On Instagram, who you follow and who follows you has a big impact on the content you see in your feed. This makes it important to follow other accounts operating in the cannabis industry, as well as tagging them and mentioning them in your own content when it’s relevant to do so.
  • Engagement: Driving engagement is important, especially with users involved in your space. The more cannabis accounts you can get to engage with your content on a regular basis, the better you’re likely to do in cannabis circles on Instagram.
  • Interests: Users are served content based on their interests on Instagram. That means anticipating the interests and needs of your target audience and then developing content that meets their expectations.
  • Relevance: Keep an eye on timeliness and trending topics when creating content on Instagram. The internet moves from topic to topic quickly, so be responsive and build flexibility into your plan to account for relevance.
  • Popularity: If your content earns a lot of engagement quickly, you could land on Instagram’s explore page, which gives you a big boost in terms of reach. This can serve to set up your future posts for success, as well.

Be forewarned that Instagram is notorious for frequently updating its algorithm. These concepts are at the core of it, but the precise details of what works and what doesn’t are subject to change.

Facebook algorithm explained

These factors are most important for Facebook’s algorithm

  • Connections: Most of the content a user sees in their feed come from people they are friends with and Pages they choose to follow.
  • Content type: Users are more likely to be served content they prefer to engage with. So, if you like long form, written posts, you’ll likely see more of those. If you prefer to engage with video, expect a feed filled with videos.
  • Content quality: Facebook places an emphasis on “meaningful” content that is “informative” and “accurate.” Brands should make sure they’re verifying any fact-based claims before posting. Tweaking content to make it as relevant as possible to your audience can also improve its odds.
  • Engagement: Content that sees a lot of engagement is more likely to surface in more users’ feeds. Creating compelling opportunities for other users to like, comment, and share your content is a major way to make progress on Facebook.

TikTok algorithm explained

As a new platform, TikTok’s algorithm remains fairly mysterious, but some of the factors likely to drive success with TikTok’s algorithm include the following:

  • Engagement: On TikTok, engagement is more important than followers, so focus on producing highly engaging content that compels users to comment and share. Past engagement also matters, so building an engaged following over time should be a major priority.
  • Discover activity: TikTok keeps track of how users behave in Discover to serve them more relevant content. So, if you know a certain demographic of your audience engages with content a certain way, tailor it to their preferences to increase the odds you reach them.
  • Location: Content produced and shared from your country and in your language is more likely to reach you. For brands, this is an effective feature of TikTok’s algorithm.

It’s worth noting that TikTok isn’t especially cannabis-friendly, even for a social media platform. Keep this in mind when creating content for your cannabis business on TikTok.

YouTube algorithm explained

YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes the following elements:

  • Performance: The better your videos perform, the more likely you are to get an algorithmic boost from YouTube. Key metrics include time of engagement, click through rate, likes, and dislikes. Focus on creating videos that perform well with your audience, driving a lot of likes, keeping viewers watching, and incentivizing comment activity.
  • User behavior: Users are served content similar to what they’ve watched in the past, so build your page to be hyper-relevant to your market segment. If you sell concentrates and extracts, for example, avoid publishing too much content about topicals — unless, of course, you sell those too.
  • Relevance: The more relevant your videos are and the more you can establish your niche, the better your content will perform on YouTube. Your channel should be clearly dedicated to a specific topic or set of topics that your audience is interested in. Try not to veer off into tangents that aren’t related to your market segment.
  • Information quality. YouTube seems to prioritize content that follows their guidelines, which includes not using their platform to spread false information. Ensure that the content you put out there is accurate, authoritative, and doesn’t rely on sensationalism for the sake of trying to attract views.

LinkedIn algorithm explained

LinkedIn is a great space for cannabis professionals to connect, and its algorithm rewards the following:

  • Connections: The connections you work with closely will see more content from you. Growing your network deliberately to include people in the cannabis industry is important to building momentum on LinkedIn.
  • Engagement: Engagement, especially shortly after a post is shared, can keep content in users’ LinkedIn feeds for weeks after publication. That means understanding not just what your connections are likely to engage with but what time of day they’re most likely to do so is key to success.
  • Content quality: LinkedIn categorizes content as spam, low quality, and high quality, so always ask yourself how much value a post adds before you click the publish button.
  • Thought leadership. Your experience and subject matter expertise play a significant role in how your content performs. Regularly sharing insights into your areas of expertise can help your content go far. No wonder cannabis content takes off on LinkedIn!

Social media algorithms can help or hinder cannabis marketing

Social media algorithms are neither friend nor foe; they are simply mathematical models designed to organize data and deliver them to users in a way that keeps them on the platform. Brands can use these social media algorithms to their advantage, but it does take work to observe what’s working and follow up on major changes. Luckily, with the best practices and tips above (and a keen eye on trends and changes), you can lay a strong foundation for a cannabis social media marketing strategy that gives your brand a competitive advantage.

Running social media accounts is a full time job, and you have a business to run. If you’re thinking about outsourcing social media marketing to a cannabis digital marketing agency, CannaContent has your back. 

Check out our list of services or contact us to set up a no-cost consultation today.

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. 

How Twitter’s Ad Policy Change Affects Cannabis Marketing

How Twitter’s Ad Policy Change Affects Cannabis Marketing

Social media has long been a challenging place for cannabis marketing and advertising. Most platforms maintain terms of service with strict limitations on the type of cannabis-related content profiles can promote, especially when it comes to paid advertising. For cannabis marketers, finding the line between what’s acceptable for a cannabis brand and what isn’t has been an ongoing challenge. 

However, Twitter’s recent announcement that it now permits cannabis advertising on its platform may be the first step in changing this long-standing paradigm. Twitter’s new cannabis advertising policy and the precedent it sets when it comes to social media marketing for cannabis could have big implications for the expanding legal cannabis industry.

Can you advertise cannabis on Twitter?

Yes, selected advertisements for cannabis, hemp, and CBD companies are allowed under Twitter since a policy change adopted in February 2023. Upon adoption of the platform’s current policy, Twitter became the first major social media channel to allow cannabis advertising in the 39 states (plus Washington, D.C.) where cannabis is legal either for medicinal use, adult use, or both. 

According to a statement released by Twitter, the policy shift was intended to align with an already vibrant cannabis community that is active on the platform.

“The cannabis space on Twitter is fun and engaging, with users Tweeting about their experiences using cannabis – whether medicinally, for wellness, or recreation – as well as recommending brands, products, and retail locations,” the company noted in a press release. “The conversation also reflects where the cannabis industry is currently heading: legislative/policy reform, business development, and community impact.” 

What does Twitter’s cannabis advertising policy actually say?

The changes to Twitter’s policy on cannabis advertising apply only to companies with proper licenses who have passed through Twitter’s approval process. Additionally, advertisers are still prohibited from promoting or offering the sale of cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) products unless the ads are for topical, non-ingestible, hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, per government regulations. 

For example, a dispensary can’t make ads promoting discounts on vape cartridges and encourage users to “buy now” with a link directly to their menu. However, the dispensary could run an awareness campaign that advertises the brand and its primary locations to users without making a sales pitch.

Below are a list of do’s and don’ts that every cannabis advertiser should be aware of, based on guidelines released by Twitter.

Do

  • Be licensed by the appropriate authorities and pre-authorized by Twitter.
  • Only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online.
  • Comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and advertising guidelines, including ensuring content only targets Twitter users over the age of 21.
  • Age-gate the landing pages for your ad, and ensure all sales are age verified.

Do not

  • Promote or offer the sale of cannabis (including ingestible CBD products). Exceptions apply to ads for topical (non-ingestible) hemp-derived CBD topical products containing equal to or less than the 0.3% THC government-set threshold
  • Target customers under the age of 21
  • Appeal to minors in the creative used in the campaign
  • Use characters, sports persons, celebrities, or images/icons appealing to minors
  • Use minors or pregnant women as models in advertising
  • Make claims of efficacy or health benefits
  • Make false or misleading claims
  • Show depiction of cannabis product use
  • Depict people consuming or under the influence
  • Encourage transport across state lines 

Adhering to these guidelines is critical to avoid account suspension or deletion. Always be sure you are compliant with the applicable laws and regulations governing your business as well as the terms of service of any social media platform you are using for marketing or advertising.

What Twitter’s policy change means for cannabis businesses

The ability to engage in paid advertising on Twitter means brands can expand beyond organic social media marketing to more quickly build their followers and reach new members of their target audience. 

For example, cannabis companies can deliver paid ads to users in their geographic area who have shown some interest in cannabis based on their activity. Whereas an organic social media marketing approach may not have ever reached these users in the past, now a cannabis brand can build awareness with those who hadn’t encountered their profile before.

Twitter is also offering a one-to-one match of every advertising dollar spent by cannabis companies until the end of March. For every dollar spent on cannabis-related advertising on Twitter, the company will provide a matching credit for the same amount up to $250,000. This offers cannabis advertisers a huge potential to maximize their reach in the short term.

“We look forward to helping more customers unlock the power of Twitter Ads to connect with the cannabis conversation and drive their business forward,” Twitter noted on their site.

In practicality, the limitations of the new policy make this a more obvious opportunity for ancillary businesses, at least at first and in the short term. While there are opportunities for plant-touching companies as discussed earlier in this blog, those opportunities will take a bit of creativity to compliantly and effectively advertise — something cannabis marketers know all too well!

What about other social media networks? 

With the new changes in place, Twitter is the only significant social media network to allow for such ads. For example, sites like TokTok and Meta, the parent company to Facebook and Instagram, have much more rigid restrictions on cannabis-related content. TikTok outright bans all cannabis content. Instagram states that it “doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country.” 

A more business-oriented network, LinkedIn, bans all advertisements for illegal products, services, and activity, specifically prohibiting “ads that promote the sale of use of illicit or recreational drugs.” However, the platform is not known to actively remove cannabis content or block cannabis businesses — in fact, it is a popular gathering place for members of the cannabis industry. Although Linkedin may not be ideal for acquiring new customers, it’s great for networking building and B2B engagement. 

These companies often look to the U.S. federal government to shape these decisions. Because cannabis remains a Schedule I substance and therefore federally illegal, this approach is reflected in the content policies for both organic content and paid advertisements on those platforms.

That doesn’t mean cannabis brands can’t use other social media platforms to build an organic audience. Adhering to these platforms’ terms of service can be quite tricky, and it’s true that enforcement is quite choppy across the board. However, with a creative marketing team, you can build and maintain an engaged following that you can direct to your website for more information on how to purchase products and services. Organic social media marketing has been successfully implemented by cannabis brands since the industry was first legalized, although it takes expert insight into what is permitted and what is not to avoid account suspensions and deletions.

In the long term, Twitter’s acceptance of cannabis advertising may herald a more friendly future for cannabis on social media, although there’s no indication other platforms are heading in that direction just yet. As legalization expands and discussions about reform on the federal level continue, the legal cannabis industry is clearly here to stay. With luck and in success, Twitter’s policy change could set a new precedent for other social media platforms that want to compete for the industry’s advertising dollars, unlocking new advertising opportunities for cannabis businesses that have historically been limited in how they can market and advertise.

Additionally, some brands are exploring how they can leverage the Metaverse for cannabis marketing to reach their target audience and promote their products in an immersive way, with fewer terms of service restrictions than on conventional social media platforms. For example, some companies are creating virtual dispensaries in the Metaverse that allow users to learn and read about their products. Still, with a lack of information on the future of the Metaverse, there is uncertainty and risk marketing there, as well.

Maximize your cannabis marketing results

While Twitter’s decision to allow cannabis advertisements on its platform is a positive development for the industry, online cannabis marketing still comes with many unique challenges. At CannaContent, our expert marketing team specializes in creating high-quality content to market your company in a compliant way that ensures your hard-earned following will be protected. Reach out today to find out how we can help you navigate the world of online marketing and advertising successfully, executing your brand vision and helping you reach your future customers.

What’s up with Facebook’s recent shadow ban on cannabis?

What’s up with Facebook’s recent shadow ban on cannabis?

Facebook users recently discovered their searches for “marijuana” and “cannabis” no longer display results.

Here’s what happened when CannaContent conducted a search of the term “cannabis” on Facebook on August 4, 2018:

Nothing. Plain ‘ol nothing. So, what the hell is going on?

Marijuana Moment reported on Aug. 1, 2018 that Facebook pages, groups, and events – including pages managed by government entities and regulatory bodies to disseminate key compliance information – no longer appear in search results. While those already engaged with a certain group, page, or event can see its content, those outside cannot find it easily. Yet again, a social media platform is causing difficulties around cannabis. And it sucks.

This phenomenon is called a “shadow ban” (sometimes written as “shadowban”). What exactly is a shadow ban? Why did Facebook enact a shadow ban? What can you do to promote your business or brand on Facebook while the shadow ban is in place?

What is a shadow ban?

A shadow ban is when a social media platform allows a page or profile to continue posting content, but that content will not appear in search results. The user often does not know that their content is subject to a shadow ban. They continue to post as normal without repercussions.

These types of bans are used to curtail the attention paid to a certain profile or subject. Facebook and other social media platforms use it to curb the spread of spam. It has also been used to quash the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation.

Once a shadow ban is in place, there’s no warning or indication that it’s been set in motion. People simply figure it out when their content experiences a significant drop in engagements.

Why did Facebook enact a shadow ban for cannabis?

As of the writing of this blog post, Facebook has yet to officially clarify why the shadow ban was enacted. However, social media platforms discouraging or outright banning cannabis content is nothing new.

Federal policy, social media, and cannabis content are at constant odds. Facebook’s advertising guidelines outline that platform users cannot “constitute, facilitate or promote illegal products, services or activities,” with an additional clause that ads cannot “promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription or recreational drugs.” Twitter, Instagram and other platforms have similar policies. (It’s important to note that these restrictions can apply to hemp-derived CBD and hemp products as well.)

Despite these content and advertising bans, cannabis communities flourish on Facebook, sharing information, education, and yes, plant-touching and ancillary business information. These communities and pages are so active that it can be easy to forget that posting is technically against the rules. This just happened on YouTube earlier this year, when thousands of cannabis videos were removed when a review found that those videos violated the platform’s terms of service.

Considering the other actions Facebook could have taken – suspensions and deletions are not uncommon – it really could be worse. Your page, groups, and events are likely still up and running. It’s the discovery of new content that the shadow ban will likely affect the most.

So, how can you navigate the shadow ban’s murky waters?

How can cannabis businesses navigate Facebook’s shadow ban?

  • Use hashtags… for now. Normally, using a hashtag on Facebook won’t make much of a difference. As of the writing of this blog post, content appeared in search results when a hashtag was placed in front of the keywords #cannabis and #marijuana.
  • Share content within your networks. The shadow ban did not delete groups, pages, events, and the like from Facebook – it just makes them extremely difficult to find. You may need to work a little harder to deliver content to your intended audience for the time being, so take advantage of the tools already at your disposal. Share your next sale or testimonial with a cannabis-centric Facebook community you already joined.
  • Explore the “related” column. As of this writing, the “related” column attached to events, groups, and pages is still producing cannabis-related results without any special tricks. Exploring this channel can help you discover other cannabis-centric communities on Facebook. While you’re at it, share those groups, events, and pages themselves with other “cannapreneurs” to help them expand their networks.
  • Do a quick audit of your business profile. Make sure your page is not blatantly breaking one of Facebook’s rules against promoting “illegal” products. While the shadow ban and your images are not directly related, it only takes a scary and uncertain change to remind the cannabis community that these platforms are not as safe as we thought.
  • Use related keywords that aren’t shadow banned. As of this writing, slang like “420” and “weed” is still searchable, and related terms such as “bong” came up as well. These searches will likely reach different audiences than “cannabis” and “marijuana,” but these two groups do have some overlapping interested users.
  • Step it up on other platforms. If Facebook is Goliath, then Instagram is David gearing up a slingshot. The visuals-driven platformadded 200 million daily active users between September 2017 and June 2018, and its cannabis community is thriving. There are millions of posts associated with the #CannabisCommunity and #Weedstagram hashtags. If your business or brand is not as active on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or other platforms, this may be a good time to experiment.

Will Facebook’s shadow ban on cannabis last forever?

As of this writing, it is not yet clear if this is a temporary experiment or a permanent change. Facebook has yet to make any official statement.

To take down thousands of pages that share valuable education, opinions, and information isn’t exactly good press, especially now that Facebook is suffering from one controversy after another. Is a shadow ban Facebook’s way to satisfy legal obligations while still allowing the platform’s users to post information? We won’t know until there’s an official answer from someone at the company, but what we do know is that there’s a hell of a lot of precedent for Facebook to do so.

In the event that the shadow ban is lifted, simply continue with your regularly-scheduled programming. In the meantime, maybe you’ll find a new way to effectively promote your business.