Cannabis has been around for as long as any of us can remember, utilized for a variety of health benefits across several regions and cultures over time. And although the plant itself remains essentially the same, the methods of production, sale, and distribution surrounding it continue to evolve each year.
The past few decades have seen a tremendous societal shift in regards to how we live and interact with one another. With social media more prevalent than ever in our daily lives, the cannabis industry has recognized these changes and adapted to the current climate. Over the past few years, cannabis brands have turned their attention to their social media presence and how powerfully it can affect overall sales and consumer interest in the blink of an eye.
Since its original launch in 2010, Instagram has taken social media by storm, transitioning from a fun place to post aesthetically-pleasing pictures for friends and family members to a full-blown hub for marketers, brands, and influencers alike. Other apps have certainly followed suit, and social media as a whole has transformed from a convenient means to keep in touch with your followers to a booming business opportunity in the making.
From fashion to music to food to life coaching, most industries have taken note of this shift and begun to capitalize on their social media platforms. With limitless opportunity for advertisements, collaboration, and connecting directly with your target audience, Instagram is known as the main cash cow when it comes to brands, and cannabis is no exception.
As cannabis continues to increase in legalization throughout the country and around the world, so does opportunity for the legal market to expand and innovate. However, the fact that cannabis is not fully legal to access in every region and Instagram is, makes these brands’ presence on the app a little confusing. Here’s how some of the top cannabis brands featured on Instagram are making it work:
- Sell cannabis by NOT selling cannabis.
One of Instagram’s most important policies for cannabis brands to remember is as follows: “Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms, alcohol, and tobacco products between private individuals, and buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if legal in your region) are also not allowed.”
With cannabis still federally illegal, it makes sense that Instagram prohibits any sales of the plant on their platform. But in response, brands have just gotten crafty. By avoiding any mention of prices, discounts, or store locations, cannabis brands are mostly able to fly under the radar and continue to promote their page as “lifestyle.”
Photos are sort of a gray area–while some brands have posted photos and been completely fine, others have been flagged and removed almost immediately, and it’s hard to say why this is.
- Pay attention to your audience.
When it comes to audience engagement, Alien Labs is the brand to look up to. Alien Labs places a heavy emphasis on replying to comments in order to engage in educational conversations. Without mentioning sales at all, this engagement has resulted in increased traffic to their page and open discussions surrounding their products. Engaging with your audience regularly puts forth an air of community that is valuable to customers when deciding which brands they want to trust.
- Avoid showing videos or photos of consumption.
Photos or videos of the plant alone run the risk of getting shut down, but footage of actual consumption is out of the question. Apart from the fact that Instagram will likely jump on getting this taken down immediately, keep in mind that the app is not childproof, so even if Instagram doesn’t catch your post, it might not be the best idea to post images or videos of consumption that minors are likely to come across. Alternatively, you can set your account on private to have ultimate control over who follows/views your content.
- Utilize hashtags.
Hashtags are a great way to filter your Instagram content and find community within the billions of posts. It’s also beneficial for marketing and making sure your profile reaches people who are interested in the cannabis industry. Popular hashtags include #weedstagram, #cannabisculture, #weedporn, #thc, and more.
- Leverage influencers wherever possible.
Influencers are the kings and queens of Instagram, so getting one on your page will be endlessly beneficial to your brand. The cannabis industry has its own ring of influencers. From reviewing products and strains to educating their followers on the cannabis industry, these influencers have a massive following within the culture. For higher visibility, try and snag a weed influencer to promote your brand and maybe even appear on your page.
- Visuals are everything.
Since Instagram is centered around aesthetics, visuals are incredibly important for anyone’s profile. There are different apps and tools that help you manage your posting schedules and allow for you to focus on optimizing aesthetics for your posting cadence. Remember to try and avoid photos of the plant itself if you can, but other images that tease the cannabis community will be beneficial to your brand.