Although cannabis retail has been legal in Canada for over 3 years now, and more than one-third of American states have legalized it for recreational use, social media marketing can still be quite challenging for cannabis dispensaries. As regulations constantly change, it’s difficult to know what is legal to post and what may get your account banned. It is essential to have a robust social media marketing strategy for your cannabis retail store before you start promoting on various channels. However, due to strict regulations surrounding the industry, cannabis brands are typically discouraged from running paid ads on social media platforms, as many don’t allow them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of organic reach on social media with the right kind of messaging and target personas.
Social media marketing is an excellent way to reach a wide audience and educate cannabis consumers about your products and services. The platforms you must have a presence on include:
- Instagram: Images-centered platforms are great for cannabis dispensaries selling to millennials and generation Z customers. Cannabis brands can use Instagram to boost awareness, educate consumers, and build a targeted high-value audience.
- Facebook: Dispensaries can use Facebook pages and groups to build a community, promote excellent customer service, or keep clients in the loop about their latest promotions and events.
- Twitter: Twitter is a great tool for cannabis dispensaries to share industry news and engage with high-profile professionals to keep their brand in the limelight.
What should cannabis dispensaries post on social media?
Keep in mind that you should use social media to educate your customers and not push your products, which goes against most platforms’ regulations. Think about the things that appeal to them and cultivate posts that resonate with their values. Impactful content on social media includes industry news, educational graphics, contests, events, loyalty program benefits, and behind-the-scenes content about your dispensary, budtenders, and other employees. Many successful brands are crushing it on social media with unique content.
Once you’re posting regularly, also dig into the analytics from each specific social media platform to figure out what works best for your cannabis retail store. Then you can curate content accordingly and spend more effort on the channel that works best for you. Now let us dive into the dos and don’ts of social media marketing for cannabis dispensaries as per regulations. Please use these recommendations only as advice, as marketing regulations may be different in your state or province, so check out your regulatory authority website for details.
-Do post educational, informative content.
-Do post advocacy content including data, statistics, quotes, legislative updates, health reports, research results, and so on.
-Do post images of products – just don’t post anything implying that the products are for sale, trade, or delivery.
-Do keep an eye on Facebook’s updates to its guidelines so you’re always adhering to the latest rules.
-Do closely monitor the activities on your page, particularly if you outsource content creation, sharing, and communications on your business page to a marketing agency, freelancer, or another third party. It’s equally important to monitor your employees’ activities on your page as well to ensure they comply with Facebook’s rules.
-Don’t say that a product is for sale, trade, or delivery.
-Don’t ask people to buy a product.
-Don’t list prices.
-Don’t encourage people to inquire or contact your business about a product.
-Don’t show images that depict the sale of cannabis products.
-Don’t post anything that gives instructions on how to grow, sell, or use cannabis.
-Don’t provide any contact information for people to buy cannabis products.
-Don’t make any medical claims.
Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, regulations, and recommendations are pretty similar.
- Instagram doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell cannabis, regardless of the seller’s state or country. Their policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. However, cannabis retail stores may include a website link in their bio information.
LinkedIn is one of the most cannabis business-friendly mainstream social media platforms available, but not very relevant for the B2C market. However, it’s still good to have a presence on Linkedin to learn more about the cannabis industry and connect with other professionals in the space to expand your network. B2B marketers can target cannabis-related businesses in the following ways:
-LinkedIn allows you to run pay-per-click ads to this audience.
-One can target cannabis businesses by location. Gives an overview of how many people LinkedIn thinks are living in states where cannabis is legal.
-Post industry trends and inspiring stories that are relevant to your audience, your engagement will likely increase.
-Target cannabis and marijuana businesses by groups. Groups give people a private area to connect and build relationships in the cannabis industry.
-Understand what is going to be most relevant to your audience and make an effort to share that content.
-Content with photos do much better on LinkedIn. Use highly targeted videos to promote content and build brand awareness that will help you reach your business goals.
-Encourage your employees and partners to share your posts.
-The limitation with Pinterest is using the platform for the commercial sale of cannabis.
-Advertisements that encourage or boost the usage of any form of recreational drug are strictly prohibited.
-However, Pinterest does allow users to post advertisements promoting the health benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products that do not contain THC.
-Pinterest also permits organic cannabis content with a more artistic or educational nature.
Twitter has the least strict regulations about cannabis as long as you target Canada specifically.
Twitter permits approved cannabis advertisers to target Canada, subject to the following restrictions:
- Advertisers must be licensed by Health Canada and pre-authorized by Twitter.
- Advertisers may only promote informational or brand-preference content.
- Advertisers may only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online. For example, advertisers may not promote such content online in Quebec or to Quebec residents.
- Advertisers are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations.
In general, advertisers are prohibited from promoting cannabis content:
-by communicating information about cannabis price or distribution;
-by doing so in a manner that could be appealing to anyone under the age of 18;
-through testimonial or endorsement;
-through, the depiction of a person, character, or animal, whether real or fictional; or
-by presenting cannabis or any of its brand elements in a manner that associates it or the brand element with, or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or an image of, a lifestyle such as one that includes glamour, party, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or adventure.
There are numerous ways you can stand out from the competition on social media, and market your cannabis dispensary to the right customer base. Subscribe below to our blog to get regular educational content delivered directly to your inbox.