Originally published on the PufCreativ Blog.
Social media may seem like an unnecessary investment, but a good cannabis retail social media strategy can be a big difference-maker for growing a digital audience and driving online sales.
It’s no secret that Facebook has recently been needlessly cruel to Canadian cannabis businesses and disabling their Instagram accounts without notice or reason, but the benefits of a strong social media presence still outweigh the risk of temporarily losing your account.
This article provides some key insights regarding social media strategy, the difference between ‘organic’ and paid social media, and managing social media expectations for your cannabis retail company.
7 Tips on Social Media Strategy for Cannabis Retail
As the Canadian cannabis industry continues to grow, social media will become increasingly important to cannabis organizations of all shapes and sizes. Not only is it a great SEO tool and an effective way to directly target your audience, it’s also great for nurturing a unique relationship with that audience, sharing your story, and changing minds about cannabis.
Here are a few tips to consider when developing your cannabis social media strategy:
- Creative Direction
The first step you should take when developing your cannabis social media strategy is to spend some time and come to an agreement on a creative direction for your social media profile – this would cover your bios across all social platforms, your hashtag strategy, location strategy, the look of your profiles, and the general vibe of your social media over time. We typically create a presentation that covers all of this, in order to make the marketing consistent.
- Campaign Strategy
Now that you’ve worked out your creative direction, the next step is figuring out what type of on-going campaigns you want to produce over the next quarter, six months, year, five years, etc. These campaigns could range from a “Strain of the Month” to a quarterly giveback program for local nonprofits. We suggest implementing both styles at the same time!
It’s really important that the messaging of your social media is completely dialed in, before you start posting. Regardless of your business type, in both the cannabis and hemp industries – it is of absolute importance that your tone, style and vibe are on point.
- Content Strategy
You’ll now need some content to accompany your strategy and messaging. Depending on if your profiles will be heavy on photo, video, design, or all-of-the-above, you first need to identify who will be creating what content, how often and how that content will be used across your social media channels.
- Cannabis Social Media Calendar
It is also critical that you create and maintain a social media calendar to organize your content and verbiage, to make sure that all stakeholders are on the same page. In the cannabis sphere, it’s always advisable to have a lot of eyes on content so you can more effectively keep up with cannabis marketing compliance.
Another key factor to keep in mind throughout this entire cannabis social media marketing process – is originality. As the industry grows, and more social media profiles are created, you definitely want your profiles to stand out as much as possible. At the end of the day, the best cannabis social media profiles are the ones that stand out when it comes to their creative, campaign strategy, design, photo, video, and messaging.
The ‘icing on the cake’ for cannabis social media efforts is CSR. We not only encourage all cannabis organizations to incorporate this into their entire business and marketing plans, but also their social media channels. It’s critical that we change hearts and minds about cannabis and hemp due to the stigma around the plant and the abject failure of the War on Drugs.
We truly believe that every cannabis social media project is different, and carries with it many additional factors. From our experience, these seven tips are a great place to start.
‘Organic’ vs. Paid Social Media Management
When it comes to cannabis retail social media marketing, typically, an organization would execute an on-going organic social media strategy paired with paid advertisements. These organic efforts can help organizations directly engage with customers, communicate their brand identity, and can also prove to be more cost-effective over time.
With cannabis, paid social media advertising is extremely limited and goes against major social media platform guidelines – in almost every case. We see ads from cannabis technology, media, and data companies go through every now and then. There are cannabis brands, like Cookies and Dro, who run ads to their clothing stores through their clothing social media accounts. In all cases, there are loopholes you must be willing to jump through in order to get compliant ads to be approved.
Effectively Managing Social Media Expectations
While it’s certain that the Canadian cannabis retail market is only going to continue to become more competitive, at the same time, social media algorithms are unfortunately only going to become more and more limiting. This makes your branding, strategy, CSR, content, messaging and organic social media marketing that much more vital to the success of your business.
It’s also crucial to consider the three factors below when managing expectations for your cannabis or hemp social media profile:
- Every social media project is unique.
- Every social media project will experience different levels of growth at different times.
- Every social media strategy will adapt over time.
You can’t just start an Instagram account, post low-resolution pictures every now and then, and expect to grow your following to 10k+, or see enormous sales instantly, for example. Some of the best cannabis social media accounts in history simply have had great branding, content, and a solid strategy — yes — but they’ve also been executing creative strategies for years with top-notch branding, messaging, CSR, PR, influencers, animation, etc.
Just like paid advertising, there are certain ways to accelerate your organic social media growth, but you still need to pay-to-play. This could be via campaigns with influencers and the media, or even starting a podcast and amping up your content budget to incorporate more videos.
Here are some questions to start asking yourself if you’re looking to improve your social media performance:
- Is my branding turning folks away?
- Are my prices too high?
- How is my messaging?
- Am I reaching the right audience?
- Am I engaging properly?
- Does my social media strategy even make sense for my business?
- Am I spending enough money on my social media to really be competitive in my market?
- Am I supplying my social media team with enough content or ample opportunities to grow my social media presence?
- Is my content even good?
- Is it original?
- Is it high-resolution enough?
- Does it tell a story?
- Would video be better?
- Am I doing anything to help organically boost my social media profiles? (podcast, influencers, events, CSR, giveaways, etc.?)
It’s important to consider these questions before getting discouraged as a business owner and social media manager. Remember: social media will always be a great marketing tool, but how you utilize and adapt to the algorithms of each social media platform will always change over time.
Canadian Cannabis Retail Marketing Guide
Over the next few months, when it comes to creating original content, we’ll be focusing on the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian cannabis industry, retailers.
This series of articles is dedicated to informing and educating Canadian cannabis retail store operators about marketing, promotions, branding, partnerships, and product selection.
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Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by ADCANN