In the past few years or so, you’ve undoubtedly heard the buzzword “Social Media Influencer,” but you might not have wondered about what it actually means or realized how much these ‘influencers’ impact modern digital marketing. A Social Media Influencer is a user on modern social media, who, through their image and lifestyle has fostered credibility in a specific industry. Social Media Influencers have access to a large audience and can therefore persuade other users by virtue of their perceived authenticity and wide reach.
Although there are many social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube, these days many influencers come to fruition primarily through Instagram. In the years since its inception in 2010, Instagram has become the most popular amongst all social media platforms and consequently has been shown to produce 11 times more of an ROI than traditional advertising. And, with new updates and shortcuts to landing pages (via the Instagram story) appearing almost daily, we certainly don’t foresee them slowing down anytime soon.
Influencer Marketing Strategy
Naturally, organizations usually collaborate with influencers who cater to their particular niche. There are also agencies like our own that partner with influencers to easily make connections for their clients, all due to a comfortable pre-existing relationship. To this end we started our PufNetwork of (not only) influencers, but also athletes, photographers, models, entrepreneurs, etc. to make the process more convenient for all parties.
Brands will typically exchange money, products, or a combination of both for the influencers’ exposure. Once an agreement is made, there is a follow-up photo or video shoot to develop fresh content. In some cases companies will simply send influencers their products to post and review on their own social media profiles, with added emphasis on their Instagram story. Established influencers with business profiles of over 10k followers have the “swipe up” feature on their IG story, which can therefore conveniently serve as a direct CTA to the brand’s e-commerce website, streamlining the process.
Influencer Marketing and Cannabis
If you’re involved with cannabis marketing in general or a specific cannabis marketing agency, you are essentially in the middle of a “digital war” on a daily basis. Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and much of the other major digital platforms frown upon cannabis advertising due to the industry’s current standing as a gray area within the Federal legal system. If you’re a cannabis company you are constantly at risk of getting your profiles shut down, and at any given moment. Due to such strict regulations, leading cannabis-centered media organizations like High Times Magazine, WeedMaps, Leafly, Sensi Magazine, and even WeedTube have started helping cannabis companies to break down these digital barriers.
Now that hemp is legalized on a federal level, many more Hemp/CBD ads are popping up on websites such as weather.com and surfline.com. We’ve been seeing CBD ads show up on LinkedIn and even Instagram, but we hesitate to recommend this strategy to clients. In the long term, it’s not worth getting a profile shut-down, regardless of the reason; you could ultimately lose your social media handle, following, and overall reputation.
The risk factor in cannabis digital marketing/advertising is what makes social media influencers increasingly valuable to the still emerging and therefore fragile industry. These influencers can post content and information on their profiles that cannabis and CBD brands technically cannot, for example: a photo of an influencer consuming cannabis with a corresponding discount code or call to action.
Why risk getting your profile shut down when you can gain even more brand awareness and ROI from an influencer campaign? Furthermore, why miss out an opportunity for organic growth while at the same time reaching a wider audience?
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Now that influencer marketing is becoming more popular, we predict many influencers will start diving into different niches, apart from the niche that initially put them on the map as an influencer. For example: it would make sense for a yoga influencer to do work with a CBD or cannabis topical brand – while at the same time, it would be smart for a cannabis influencer to work with a yoga studio because trends show that a vast majority of cannabis users also practice yoga. From our perspective and as long as social media is around, influencer marketing will be exponentially beneficial to brands worldwide, especially in the currently limited advertising space of the cannabis industry.
Check out our CEO’s recent podcast with influencers Emily McCarter & Whitney Adrian: https://anchor.fm/john-shute/episodes/Joint-talks-with-Whitney-Adrian-sunnny-daze-and-Emily-McCarter-mccartergetshigh-e3idca