The Benefits of Social Media for Cannabis Growers and Producers
Cannabis advertising is tricky. The plant’s designation as a Schedule I drug makes it federally illegal, and voids the utility of television, radio, and print media as marketing platforms. Even states that regulate cannabis have strict advertising rules that typically revolve around shielding children from cannabis-related products. But if we’re being honest, the internet is the most pragmatic space for any industry’s marketing campaign. Consumers are jaded by the inauthenticity of conventional advertising, preferring instead the oldest marketing tool in entrepreneurial history: word of mouth. The explosive rise of social media has made it possible for everyone to spread whatever message they want to millions of people in a matter of seconds. Social media provides entrepreneurs with a way to directly engage with their costumers, manage their brands, network with other businesses, and educate their communities. Cannabis cultivation stands to reap tremendous benefits from the use of social media. As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it is essential for cultivators to find ways to distinguish their brands from others since your every-day pot consumer probably won’t be able to see, smell, or taste the difference between one brand’s bud and another’s. It’s up to the business to show their costumers their sustainable growing methods, trimming practice, use of recyclable packaging, community involvement, etc. Social media provides the cultivation industry with a platform to do just that.
Connect with Costumers
Undoubtedly, social media’s popularity comes from the access it provides users to each other. This feature—the ability to comment on or discuss a product in real time—provides businesses with a goldmine of feedback they can use to improve immediately. Cultivators can post information about their growing methods, images of their flower, locations where their product can be purchased, promotions, commentary—any media they want to test on their customers. Businesses can count the likes, shares, and retweets, read the comments, and mold themselves to better meet their customers’ needs.
Build Your Brand
While some sites place a higher priority on this feature than others (Instagram VS. Twitter, for example), all social media platforms provide account holders with the ability to share images. Whether the image a cultivation business shares is a logo, its grow facility, participation in a legalization event, or beautifully hand-trimmed bud, that visual contributes to the brand’s messaging. Images aren’t the only messages that social media sites communicate. These platforms are designed to deliver an almost continuous stream of information, providing businesses with the ongoing power to manage their brand in real time and in response to consumer reactions. The language a brand uses to describe its product has its own fragrance and will attract a specific market. For example, while some might relish terminology like “stoner,” “weed,” and “smoke out,” others might prefer the words “cannabis consumer,” “flower,” or “blaze.” As anyone who has ever had their words shared within a social media platform hundreds or thousands of times can tell you, language can make a huge impact (good or bad) on the people who read it in the blink of an eye.
Social media platforms are excellent promotional spaces since they allow users to give each other shout-outs via hashtags or direct links. Growers can promote dispensaries that sell their product, events where their product will be featured, legislators who work to legalize cannabis, influencers who promote their product, and any entity that has the power to grow their business. Strategize with these entities to get the same treatment in return. Using social media to cross promote is a great way to build relationships, widen the customer base, and legitimize a brand (if the organizations and people being promoted are reputable within the industry).
A lot of social media consumers get their news through one of these platforms. When it comes to cannabis news, this can be good or bad. Misinformation is abundant and pervasive on social media sites, especially when it comes to cannabis. That’s the bad. The good is that such information doesn’t have to dominate the platform especially if growers—people who are intimately familiar with the plant—disseminate educational information via social media as well. In addition to combating anti-cannabis propaganda, providing brand specific information is another great way to connect with customers. Customers want to know the details that differentiate brands—how a company started, who it’s marketed toward, how it impacts the community in a positive way, why it deserves trust. This kind of education is what lands product on the shelves.
Cannabis Specific Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the behemoths of social media, especially the market that the cannabis industry can target (RIP Snapchat.) Every business should capitalize on at least one of these platforms, if not all three. However, these mainstream sites are not always friendly to cannabis related businesses and can disable pages that they deem ethically dubious. That isn’t an obstacle a cultivation operation will run into on one of the following cannabis specific social media platforms. 420 Magazine Forums—The forums on this website are a great place to connect with customers hungry for cannabis information. Duby—This photo based platform markets itself as “Your New Smoke Spot” for anonymous users. Hempdex—The LinkdIn of cannabis, Hempdex “allows users to connect with colleagues, clients, and future business associates in a cannabis focused secure online environment.” High There—This social network “was created with a mission of connecting the cannabis community in a judgement-free environment.” Kalogia—This network is perfect for cannabis business professionals looking to connect with ancillary professionals in industries like legal, public relations, security, and technology. Social High—This site is a place where users can “build a social circle with friends and connect with new ones that share the same passion for cannabis.” WeedLife—Self-labeled as the “Facebook of cannabis,” this social networking site allows users to post, share, create pages, and connect with others.