Instagram is a minefield for cannabis businesses looking to promote their brand. The notoriously anti-pot platform, however, can yield tremendous results for the adept marketer who knows what buttons NOT to push. Instagram marketing is a balance between maximizing the reach of your posts and avoiding marketing to children or those with the power to get your page removed.
In a world where 37 percent of U.S. adults use Instagram, according to a Pew Industry Report, not being on the platform can throttle your brand’s growth. Luckily, there are some ways that most every cannabis business can use to take advantage of Instagram’s value. Whether you’re a marijuana influencer, weed advocate, or cannabis manufacturer, knowing how to traverse through Instagram’s advertising rules is key.
Instagram Community Guidelines
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has adopted a similar policy against cannabis as its parent company. Instagram’s Community Guidelines prohibits “buying or selling firearms and illegal or prescription drugs (even if it’s legal in your region).” Failure to adhere to these rules can get your marijuana page removed, often without a clear explanation as to why your account was banned.
Instagram doesn’t make it easy to get your account restored, but there are ways you can appeal a decision. The best way to protect your brand is by avoiding getting negative attention in the first place, but that’s not always easy to do. Even ancillary companies can be restricted from using the service. Some brands have set up back-up accounts in case of an emergency.
Instagram Marketing Tactics
In order to break through the dreaded algorithm and improve your organic reach, you can use a variety of marketing techniques to reach your audience. While you may have to play within a rigid set of rules, there’s more of an opportunity to showcase your weed brand’s creativity and personality to differentiate yourself from the competition.
If used well, hashtags can yield even more engagement on your page than not using them. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags in a caption or comment. Use all of them, but not indiscriminately. Research the hashtags used by your audience and analyze the metrics of your posts within the “View Insights” feature. Use a mix of popular and less-popular hashtags to avoid getting your content lost in the litany of posts and increase the longevity of your content.
Cannabis influencer marketing is a rapidly growing marketing tool with untapped potential for businesses and influencers. Federal laws have limited marijuana businesses’ ability to advertise like traditional brands, but influencer marketing allows you to collaborate with cannabis thought leaders who directly engage with your audience. Marijuana influencers can help legitimize your brand by showing how your product can improve a person’s lifestyle.
Instagram allows businesses to use short and long-form video formats to engage their audience. Nowadays, if you want to get noticed on Instagram, you have to invest in video marketing. Tell your story by going behind-the-scenes of your grown room or showing interviews with experts in the industry. Use every video format available, including live videos, stories, and IGTV for longer videos, up to 10 minutes long. Make sure to tag your location and add hashtags to all your stories.
How to Avoid Getting Removed
While there are many marketing strategies to promote your brand, there are some tricks of the trade that can help you avoid unwanted attention. In order to not get flagged for violating the terms of service, check out these tips and tricks that can protect your marijuana brand.
The chances of getting your account flagged increase if you show someone consuming a cannabis product in your stories, IGTV, or posts. Instagram prohibits showing illegal substance use. You may see other brands post stories that show cannabis consumption, but they’re walking a tightrope. Instead, focus on lifestyle content that can inspire your audience.
Keeping your page on private prevents it from showing up on the platform’s “explore page.” While you will limit the possibility of your account being discovered on accident, you’re also limiting access to children or individuals who may flag your cannabis content. Private pages let you vet your followers; albeit, this may become time-consuming. A private page attracts only those who purposefully want to follow you.
Instagram prohibits the sale of illegal products including cannabis, even if it’s legal in your state or jurisdiction. Cannabis companies can’t sell weed products online. Instead, drive all sales inquiries away from your direct Instagram messages and into your email inbox. Links on your Instagram profile should be reserved for informational content, blog, or anything relevant that doesn’t directly deal with marijuana sales.
How to Recover Your Page
Let’s say you have one of the unlucky few cannabis pages that get removed without an explanation. If you believe you haven’t broken the community guidelines, you can appeal their decision by filling out a form and providing a copy of one of the following documents:
- Local business license
- Tax filing
- Certificate of Formation
- Articles of Incorporation
- Utility bill
- Proof of domain name registration
- Order fulfillment documentation
If your appeal is denied, it’s helpful to set up a back-up account to keep the wheels moving. Find creative ways to steer your audience to your new page.
Instagram has great value for budding cannabis businesses. Some features are restricted from cannabis companies, but there’s still plenty of value to reap from the platform. Your cannabis business can raise brand awareness, develop an audience from scratch, and tell your company story. As long as you follow the rules and act strategically, you can do wonders for the cannabis community.