Cannabis Marketing has changed drastically over the last 10 years.
It has gone from an unregulated industry that operated outside of the law to being recognised as one of the fastest growing opportunity by investors all around the world.
To put it in to historical context, the next 15 years for the cannabis industry could play out in a similar fashion to how alcohol grow in post-prohibition America.
Many investors have clocked on to this fact and moved into the cannabis space early to secure big returns once the marketplace normalises across the world.
Following the money, even large global brands such as Coca-Cola have begun looking into developing a range of cannabis infused products.
However, despite the mainstreaming of the industry, marketers still need to be extra cautious when advertising in the marijuana space, as the rules and regulations surrounding cannabis marketing differ from place to place.
This makes it difficult for traditional marketers who are unable to rely on methods they would normally use that would be effective in other industries.
Nevertheless, as the cannabis brand has years of experience working in an underground way, many baring brands in the cannabis space have found ways to get around anti-cannabis policies regarding advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
This is to be expected because cannabis brands have always had to invent new and creative methods of guerilla advertising.
Advertising Cannabis Brands on Social Media
As the rules that govern cannabis advertising are basically unclear at this time, social media companies such as Facebook & Youtube have developed strict policies governing advertising in these industries, which many have called restrictive and unfair.
One Marijuana brand, Kiva Confections has had their social media accounts shut down more than 7 times. But that hasn’t stopped them from coming back each time and gathering more and more followers.
In this article, we discuss a few of the ways they’ve managed to evade social media bans and filters to grow there following and come back with bang, every time.
Get Influencers to Advertise For You
Every time the Kiva Confections account has been shut down, they launched a new account and spread the word through the use of popular cannabis influencers on Facebook and Instagram..
The theory behind this is that on social media, it’s fine for a friend to recommend a company to another friend – in fact, it’s entirely encouraged by the social media algorithms and action is very rarely, if not ever taken against individual influencers advertising cannabis products.
“Individuals can share with impunity, which means influencers are in the unique position to share products they are passionate about without fear of getting shut down as a business would and several influencer partnerships are in progress.” – Kiva Confections
Technically I believe that these videos where influencers mention Kiva, may be possible to be boosted by the individual influencer on behalf of the brand.
Alternatively, if a content producer such as a musician or comedian, was to be sponsored by Kiva, perhaps they could plug the brand at the beginning of their content which would then be eligible for FB ads.
Create and Promote Entertaining Branded Content
Additionally, another way that cannabis companies have managed to cleverly subvert the Facebook advertising system is through the production and distribution of branded media content.
Pages such as Herb who are a subsidiary of cannabis brand Caviar Gold) advertise themselves as a home for cannabis video, allow the advertisement of cannabis products and brands via the method of product placement in regular news stories and entertainment pieces.
The about video from media brand NowThisIsWeed showcases a small weed delivery company, under the guise of a news story or entertainment piece.
However, as the video has been shared over 112,000 times, we’re certain that this marketing play will have generated a huge amount of traffic for the small firm, especially considering the small amount of investment needed to hit such a large audience.
Use mainstream news to your brands advantage
Cannabis brands can also attach themselves to social causes, such as Gav Lawson, founder of UK hemp clothing company THTC, who appeared on Sky news to support cannabis legislation for medicinal purposes, and to spread awareness of the benefits of Hemp.
This interview with Sky News doesn’t directly advertise the brands products in any way – but it does make you aware of Gav and the THTC brand, which means that because it is a “news story” it will be therefore be allowed on the Facebook marketing platform
Now, as the discussion around cannabis continues, several media opportunities will present themselves to budding entrepreneurs who wish to have their say in the debate, and gain some free media time for there trouble, as cannabis becomes increasingly normalised across the world.
As the rules that govern advertising in the cannabis industry are still in a somewhat confusing and complicated state, it’s hard to advocate any 100% accurate guidelines for cannabis brands who wish to do market their company using Facebook advertising.
However, with high risk comes high rewards and if you wish to proceed aware of the potential drawbacks, it is advised to follow these rules of thumb:
Avoid directly advertising prices or promotional discounts.
- Be careful with the language used in your posts,(Think to use words like “flowers” over “buds” or “collectable souvenirs”)
- Don’t provide a direct way for users to order products but rely on SEO for them to search your brand name after an awareness campaign
- Partner with a third-party media publisher like Vice News, Leafly or Herb to create branded content that is strictly considered “newsworthy” and not directly “promotional”
- Work with influencers who like your products and are willing to share with their communities, think musicians, comedians or podcasts such as Joe Rogan (regularly advertises cannabis products such as CBD, edibles and strains)
Disclaimer: this article doesn’t in any way provide legal advice or recommend to break any laws of any countries.
However, if you are in a legal territory, I hope we’ve provided some useful tips on how to get your brand out there without having your account shut down and all of your work deleted.
Thanks for reading, and if you need some more tips on how to grow your cannabis business, we recently published an in depth guide to cannabis marketing for you to check out.
Also published on Medium.