Currently, cannabis is legal in 10 states and Washington D.C. in the US. With more states (and countries) trying to legalize it, the cannabis industry is booming. By 2025, the global legal marijuana market is set to reach $66.3 billion. What’s more, it’s anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 23.9%.

Cannabis Industry Growth Cannabis Marketing

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But there are a lot of rules and regulation in the cannabis industry. For this reason, cannabis marketing is complex. Before we delve into the best strategies for cannabis marketing, let’s take a look at some of the issues involved.

Disclosure: This content has a few affiliate links, which means if you click on them, I will get a commission (without any extra cost to you).

Issues In Cannabis Marketing

The first concern with cannabis marketing is that it’s not legal everywhere. In some US states, marijuana is legal only in specific jurisdictions. So, your target audience is very limited. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The biggest concern is that most social media platforms have restrictions when it comes to cannabis marketing. Vee Popat, founder of marketing firm ColaDigital.ca, said in an interview that the cannabis market is all gray. He added that it’s difficult to come up with a marketing plan because the industry is very unpredictable in terms of the content that is allowed.

Google has banned CBD ads. So, one of the major forms of online advertising is automatically ruled out. There are reports that Google is running a trial program to test cannabis marketing. However, even if the program is successful, they won’t allow the use of the term, “CBD.” The term refers to cannabidiol, the active ingredient present in cannabis.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram advertising policies don’t specifically mention CBD. However, they prohibit the promotion of drugs or drug-related paraphernalia.

CBD Ads Cannabis Marketing

Image via Facebook

YouTube is a bit more lenient. While the community guidelines doesn’t clearly mention anything about cannabis marketing, it does state that harmful content is prohibited. That’s a vague guideline. So what does it mean? If you’re posting about medical marijuana on YouTube, you should be fine. Otherwise not.

How to be Influencer

Reddit’s Content Policy states that you can’t post content that promotes illegal activities. However, cannabis-related content isn’t directly mentioned. Reddit’s advertising policy mentions that sale of recreational drugs or substances is not allowed.

Pinterest doesn’t allow ads that promote the use or sale of recreational or illegal drugs. However, the social media platform is open to ads that promote CBD-only byproducts of cannabis that don’t have THC as well as hemp.

How to Promote Cannabis Products Online

With so many restrictions, how can you promote cannabis products? The first thing to keep in mind is that you need to tread lightly. If you don’t follow the rules, you risk getting banned on social media platforms.

The only way to fight the restrictions is to get creative with cannabis marketing. Here are a few strategies you can use to reach out to your target market:

1. Work on Your SEO strategy

SEO is your best bet for cannabis marketing. There are no restrictions and you can get more visibility online. In fact, there are several agencies that work specifically on cannabis-related SEO.

If you run a cannabis dispensary or a shop that sells cannabis products, make sure you create a profile on Google My Business. It will make it easier for Google to understand what your company offers. In addition to this, your listing may even show up on Google Maps.

How to be Influencer

You can use platforms like Ahrefs and SEMrush to find relevant keywords to know what people are searching for. Based on that, you can include keywords in your blog posts and on your website.

2. Focus on Education, Not on Selling

Cannabis isn’t widely accepted socially yet. Many people aren’t aware about its benefits and usage. If you want to get more conversions, you need to first work on increasing awareness about cannabis.

Your content marketing strategy should focus on creating content that can educate the masses. According to a study by Conductor, consumers are 131% more likely to buy a product after reading educational content.

Danny Keith, founder of the first cannabis-based broadcasting network, Cannabis Cable TV, vouches for it.

In an interview with Forbes, he said, “There are more new customers in the cannabis space than in any other space in recent history around product consumption. Without education of product, customers are ignorant and the lack of budtender education is a white-hot space.”

Not only does it spread product awareness but it’s also a great way to get your foot in the door for social media advertising. As mentioned above, certain platforms allow educational content.

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Take a look at Leafly’s Instagram page. It is one of the largest cannabis websites in the world. And they produce content that is informative, educational, and innovative.

Their Instagram page shows ways to use cannabis in different ways. They also publish news related to the cannabis industry.

Leafly’s Instagram Cannabis MarketingImage via Instagram

Cannabrand founder Olivia Mannix warns marketers to be careful while creating content for cannabis marketing.

“Stay away from counterculture, cartoons, jokes and anything that puts a negative connotation on cannabis consumers in not only their branding and marketing strategies, but also on their social media pages,” she said.

3. Join Online Communities

Advertising cannabis products is illegal on Facebook. However, in 2018, Facebook tweaked their community standards to be more welcoming to cannabis brands. They now allow users to locate cannabis-related pages using the search option.

You can either create a community or page of your own or join an existing one. You can leverage the opportunity by posting links to educational content. Your focus should be on building an audience of like-minded people without directly advertising your products.

You can organize polls, AMA sessions, and share infographics to build engagement in such communities.

4. Collaborate With Influencers

An influencer’s endorsement can hold a lot of sway over public opinion. So you can collaborate with cannabis influencers to reach out to a broader audience.

Find influencers who genuinely believe in cannabis legalization to collaborate with. If you work with influencers who share similar values, you’re more likely to reach out to people who will be interested in your product.

Take for example Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon and health influencer. He is a respected voice in the medical community. So, he would be a perfect fit for marketing medical marijuana.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Cannabis MarketingImage via Instagram

5. Use Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your cannabis products without burning a lot of money. All you need to do is list the details of the affiliate program on your website.

After that, you can start recruiting marketers on a commission basis. You can also get in touch with influencers or join affiliate networks to reach out to cannabis users.

FAQs

Q1. What is cannabis marketing?

A. It’s the action of selling or promoting cannabis and cannabis-related products.

Q2. Can you market cannabis on Facebook?

A. Yes, you can. However, your focus should be on educating customers, not promoting products.

In their advertising policy, Facebook prohibits the promotion of illegal products, drugs, and drug-related products. Facebook also rejects and prohibits ads that include ingestible CBD, including those that take visitors to a landing page.

However, you can run ads that direct users to a landing page featuring topical CBD and ingestible hemp. The ads should not, however, feature these products.

Q3. How to choose SEO services for the cannabis industries?

A. Consider the following characteristics and factors when choosing or hiring SEO services for the cannabis industry. The company, agency, or person should:

  • Have high rankings in the search engines.
  • Have expert knowledge of the cannabis industry.
  • Explain what marketing methods they will use and why.
  • Offer performance-based SEO campaigns. This way, you only pay when you see results.
  • Focus on key performance indicators that translate into more revenue and high retention rates for your brand.
  • Provide testimonials from previous happy clients.
  • Offer affordable pricing.

Q4. Why do you visit a cannabis marketing agency?

A. The following are reasons you may visit a cannabis marketing agency:

  • They understand the cannabis market and how best to promote products to your target audience.
  • They are experts in the regulations and laws governing the packaging, advertising, and marketing of cannabis products.
  • They can help you negotiate favorable prices for your media advertising buys.
  • They have industry connections to get your brand in national and global publications with the correct messaging.
  • They have the resources and talent needed to help you with market research, design, SEO, strategy, social media, and more.
  • They can help you understand marketing KPIs, data, and insights so that you always have optimized cannabis marketing campaigns.

Q5. Are cannabis, weed taboo words for marketing?

A. No, they are not.

However, over time, marketers in the cannabis industry dropped the use of terms like weed, ganja, grass, reefer, marijuana, and pot in favor of scientific terms. They now use words such as cannabis, indica, sativa, hybrid, etc., in a bid to offer highly tailored experiences.

Another reason for the change is that Google and some social media platforms do not approve content or ads with such words.

Q6. Why are cannabis companies taking a beating on the market currently?

A. Some of the reasons could include:

  • Overvaluing of the large cannabis companies
  • Too many competitors
  • Investors growing impatient over lack of earnings
  • Low prices hurting companies selling to consumers

Q7. What are some of the biggest challenges that come with working in the cannabis industry?

A. Some challenges encountered in the cannabis industry include:

  • An ever-changing marketing landscape
  • Laws and regulations that make it hard to start or run cannabis businesses
  • Banking restrictions
  • The illegality of the product in most countries and states
  • The stigma associated with cannabis

Q8. Can I use social media to promote my cannabis brand?

A. Yes, you can.

However, the key to success lies in using the following tactics:

  • Only publish educational and useful content. Your content should offer value and not appear promotional.
  • Avoid promoting your products or businesses in social posts since it could violate social network rules regarding items considered illegal or drugs.
  • Encourage customers who like your products or services to share on social media.
  • Partner with influencers.
  • Use affiliate marketing.
  • Join online communities.
  • Work on your SEO.

Conclusion

Cannabis marketing is a tough nut to crack. All social media platforms have some form of restrictions on promoting cannabis. If you want to grow your cannabis brand, you need to change your perspective for social media marketing.

Instead of selling, focus on creating product awareness and building a community. Collaborate with influencers and work on your SEO to make sure you get more visibility online.

Which other strategies can you use for cannabis marketing? Please share your insights in the comments section.

Disclosure: This content has a few affiliate links, which means if you click on them, I will get a commission (without any extra cost to you).