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“Exactly how long will it take us to reach 10,000 followers on my Instagram?” – “When will I see an ROI from my social media efforts?” – “Can I run Facebook ads for my cannabis company?” — are all questions we at PufCreativ receive on a daily basis. Although these are certainly great questions to ask as a business owner, the answers are oftentimes complicated, mainly because of the fact that so much goes into a social media program. Throwing cannabis into the mix, things tend to become even trickier. 

The purpose of this blog is to provide some key insight regarding social media strategy, the difference between ‘organic’ and paid social media, and managing social media expectations for your cannabis or hemp organization. 

7 Tips on Social Media Strategy for New Cannabis Businesses

As the legal cannabis industry grows, social media will become increasingly important to cannabis organizations of all shapes and sizes. Not only is it a great SEO tool and an effective way to directly target your audience, it’s also great for nurturing a unique relationship with that audience, sharing your story, and changing minds about cannabis. 

Here are a few tips to consider when developing your cannabis social media strategy: 

  1. Creative Direction
    • The first step you should take when developing your cannabis social media strategy is to spend some time and come to an agreement on a creative direction for your social media profile – this would cover your bios across all social platforms, your hashtag strategy, location strategy, the look of your profiles, and the general vibe of your social media over time. We typically create a presentation that covers all of this, in order to make the marketing consistent.
  2. Campaign Strategy 
    • Now that you’ve worked out your creative direction, the next step is figuring out what type of on-going campaigns you want to produce over the next quarter, six months, year, five years, etc. These campaigns could range from a “Strain of the Month” to a quarterly giveback program for local nonprofits. We suggest implementing both styles at the same time!  =) 
  3. Messaging 
    • It’s really important that the messaging of your social media is completely dialed in, before you start posting. Regardless of your business type, in both the cannabis and hemp industries – it is of absolute importance that your tone, style and vibe are on point.
  4. Content Strategy 
    • You’ll now need some content to accompany your strategy and messaging. Depending on if your profiles will be heavy on photo, video, design, or all-of-the-above, you first need to identify who will be creating what content, how often and how that content will be used across your social media channels. 
  5. Cannabis Social Media Calendar
    • It is also critical that you create and maintain a social media calendar to organize your content and verbiage, to make sure that all stakeholders are on the same page. In the cannabis sphere, it’s always advisable to have a lot of eyes on content so you can more effectively keep up with cannabis marketing compliance
  6. Originality  
    • Another key factor to keep in mind throughout this entire cannabis social media marketing process – is originality. As the industry grows, and more social media profiles are created, you definitely want your profiles to stand out as much as possible. At the end of the day, the best cannabis social media profiles are the ones that stand out when it comes to their creative, campaign strategy, design, photo, video, and messaging.
  7. CSR
    • The ‘icing on the cake’ for cannabis social media efforts is CSR. We not only encourage all cannabis organizations to incorporate this into their entire business and marketing plans, but also their social media channels. It’s critical that we change hearts and minds about cannabis and hemp due to the stigma around the plant and the abject failure of the War on Drugs.

We truly believe that every cannabis social media project is different, and carries with it many additional factors. From our experience, these seven tips are a great place to start. 

‘Organic’ vs. Paid Social Media Management

When it comes to social media marketing, typically, an organization would execute an on-going organic social media strategy paired with paid advertisements. These organic efforts can help organizations directly engage with customers, communicate their brand identity and can also prove to be more cost-effective over time. 

Paid advertising allows organizations to directly target their customers’ age, location and demographics, quickly. In both cannabis and hemp, paid social advertising is limited, but from what we’re seeing, there is less restriction with hemp because it’s federally legal. Here’s what we’ve seen: 

  1. Cannabis – With cannabis, paid social media advertising is extremely limited and goes against major social media platform guidelines – in almost every case. We see ads from cannabis technology, media and data companies go through every now and then. There are cannabis brands, like Cookies and Dro, who run ads to their clothing stores through their clothing social media accounts. In all cases, there are loopholes you must be willing to jump through in order to get compliant ads to be approved. 
  2. Hemp – In hemp, you see a bit more leeway with social media advertising. Nowadays, many brands are getting away with using the term “hemp extract” instead of “CBD” on their websites and social media verbiage. We’re also seeing brands like Charlotte’s Web create look-alike sites of their main site, just so they can use one site for ads and the other for organic traffic. Overall, we’re seeing more and more B2B and B2C hemp advertising taking place on social media platforms.
  3. Cannabis & Hemp – In some cases, there are organizations who carry both cannabis and hemp products under one brand. We’re finding that the best approach in this situation is to have separate websites for each product class and then to strategically backlink to the hemp site from the cannabis site — but not vice versa.

No matter what cannabis and/or hemp situation you may be in, your advertising will always be limited on social media – which in turn makes your organic efforts that much more important. Following the seven social media marketing steps we listed above is a great way to build out a successful, organic cannabis social media marketing strategy. 

Effectively Managing Social Media Expectations

While it’s certain that the cannabis and hemp industries are only going to continue to become more competitive, at the same time, social media algorithms are unfortunately only going to become more and more limiting. This makes your branding, strategy, CSR, content, messaging and organic social media marketing that much more vital to the success of your business. 

It’s also crucial to consider the three factors below when managing expectations for your cannabis or hemp social media profile:

  • Every social media project is unique. 
  • Every social media project will experience different levels of growth at different times.
  • Every social media strategy will adapt over time. 

You can’t just start an Instagram account, post low-resolution pictures every now and then, and expect to grow your following to 10k+, or see enormous sales instantly, for example. Some of the best cannabis social media accounts in history simply have had great branding, content, and a solid strategy — yes — but they’ve also been executing creative strategies for years with top-notch branding, messaging, CSR, PR, influencers, animation, etc. 

Once we start to execute a formal social media strategy – just like an SEO program, it can take anywhere from three to six months to see the proper organic traffic reach certain KPI’s. This changes depending on the product, service, niche, location, etc. We’ve seen social media profiles go viral overnight, while others can take months to break 1k followers.

Just like paid advertising, there are certain ways to accelerate your organic social media growth, but you still need to pay-to-play. This could be via campaigns with influencers and the media, or even starting a podcast and amping up your content budget to incorporate more videos. Here are some questions to start asking yourself if you’re looking to improve your social media performance: 

  1. Is my branding turning folks away? 
  2. Are my prices too high? 
  3. How is my messaging?
    1. Am I reaching the right audience? 
    2. Am I engaging properly? 
  4. Does my social media strategy even make sense for my business? 
  5. Am I spending enough money on my social media to really be competitive in my market?
  6. Am I supplying my social media team with enough content or ample opportunities to grow my social media presence? 
  7. Is my content even good? 
    1. Is it original? 
    2. Is it high-resolution enough? 
    3. Does it tell a story? 
    4. Would video be better? 
  8. Am I doing anything to help organically boost my social media profiles? (podcast, influencers, events, CSR, giveaways, etc.?)

It’s important to consider these questions before getting discouraged as a business owner and social media manager. And remember: social media will always be a great marketing tool, but how you utilize and adapt to the algorithms of each social media platform will always change over time. 

What’s Next For My Cannabis Social Media Platform?

We strongly encourage you to consider our thoughts above, so you can improve your social media strategy, expectations and performance. Feel free to share this with your social media team – and also to reach out to us in the comments below if you have any questions about our suggestions in this blog. If you’re looking for assistance from the top cannabis social media marketing team, feel free to email us at