Online networking is all the rage; seriously, even our goldfish have match.com accounts (Dear Sally, I can only meet you at the downtown aquarium, but I can’t tell you why.) From Twitter to Instagram, from Facebook to the ashes of Friendster, social media is all the rage. And it’s an instrumental part of any business – cannabis or otherwise.
The Popularity of Social Media
Ten years ago, few people were on social media, lest the occasional Myspace dweller. In present day, most of us are on it: per Statista, 78 percent of Americans have a social media profile (which represents a five percent increase from 2015). By 2018, it’s estimated that 2.5 billion will log on.
The Different Types of Social Media
Facebook gets a lot of the attention, but it’s certainly not the only social media website around. Still, it offers something special from a commerce point of view – custom tabs, integration with other platforms, and the functionality of a smaller version of your website:
Use social media to post your hours, location, images, sales information, and relevant (or irrelevant updates)
Twitter allows for real-time messaging while Instagram is photo-based. YouTube is all about videos while Snapchat is what the crazy kids are doing these days. Google+ is approximately as popular as Google Glass, but it does offer a unique feature: the ability to rank in search engines. It might be worth a look; who knows, maybe it’ll become a thing one of these days.
LinkedIn is social media for the working professional while Pinterest is much more popular among females than men; about four times as much.
There’s social media sites specific to the stoner as well. Some of the more popular include Grasscity Community, WeedLife, CannaSOS, Duby, and MassRoots.
The Advantages of Using Social Media
If you own a marijuana related business, you benefit from social media in a variety of ways. You benefit in the same manner any business does – by getting your name and your brand out to the masses.
More specifically, social media helps you:
Keep Your Followers Up-to-Date: Even your great-aunt who continually refers to cannabis as “Lucifer’s leaf” has to admit that it’s a fascinating plant. From its propagandist past to its medicinal benefits, marijuana is nothing if not interesting. Social media allows you to share all of this with your followers. Did you recently read a study about how marijuana cannabinoids help relieve arthritic pain in Great Mastiffs? Well post away.
Get Your Message Across Quickly: To me, hashtags will never be as great as hash browns, but they’re not without benefit. Originally more of a “Twitter” thing, they are prominent on a variety of social media these days. There’s a reason for this upswing: hashtags allow you to get your message across in a matter of words – short and sweet.
They also allow you to track your social engagement #Thisarticleisawesome #Tellyourfriends
Engage Present Customers: One of the largest benefits of using social media is the ability to engage directly with your customers. You can reach out to them, convey sales and discounts, and address any questions or concerns they might have. The latter perk is especially important: the days of people writing letters of complaint or picking up the phone to air a grievance are gone. Now, people desire an ability to communicate directly (and with some immediacy). Social media allows you to do this, giving you the ability to keep your customers happy. Happy customers = returning customers.
Increase Brand Recognition: Not every brand in the world is universally recognizable – not every company is Apple or Pepsi. Not every brand can tell us to “Just Do it” and have us think, “By gosh, we will!” But even the world’s most recognizable brands didn’t start out that way. Social media is where so many people turn for everything – to discuss politics, to stay in touch with friends, to get the news. In short, it’s a fertile market with fertile marketing possibilities. It’s the ideal place to create your voice and put yourself out there. Give people something to talk about by typing into your computer!
Speak the Language of Your Clientele: According to High Times, pot smoking is correlated with age. The estimate for annual users (those who smoke at least once a year) is as follows: 25 percent of 16-17 year olds; 35.3 percent of 18-20 year olds; 30 percent of 21-25 year olds; and 21 percent of 26-34 year olds.
In the over 35 crowd, only about six percent of people smoke regularly (or admit it, at least)
Social media also correlates with age – younger people are not only more likely to have one account but many accounts. Thus, if you want to reach the crowd that’s purchasing pot, do it by speaking their language. They’re more likely to listen this way.
Improve Customer Loyalty: Studies have shown that businesses who engage their customers online succeed at achieving higher rates of retention (and conversion of sales as well). But there is a trick to this – people
want to communicate on social media, but they don’t want to feel as though they’re speaking with a robot. It’s an easy rule to follow – people need people. If your social media is impersonal, vague, or overly automatic, you won’t do yourself any favors. Instead, keep it interesting, humorous, informative, and topical.
Make New Friends (But Keep the Old): Social media offers you the chance to cultivate friendships, too. Sure, they’re online friendships so maybe don’t call CARLA1987 if you ever need a kidney, but it doesn’t matter when it comes to commerce. Without a social media page, your presence on the web is lacking. Having a website isn’t enough anymore – you must up your game and put yourself out there; get on the dance floor of the world wide web and market like nobody’s (but everybody’s) watching.