'A Bit Scrappier': How Cannabis Marketers Navigate Social Media Restrictions

Cannabis companies continue to rake in revenue. This comes with little to no advertising channel on social media platforms such as Twitter TWTR, Facebook FB or Instagram. The same applies to Google GOOGL GOOG ads.

Facebook prohibits cannabis ads under its Community Standards policy, although recent rumors suggest a policy change could occur.

Per Google's stance on recreational drugs, cannabis ads are not allowed. This applies to CBD as well, which the company also includes on its unapproved substances list.

A choice few businesses have found ways to advertise on these platforms. Yet most fail to do so and must turn to alternative marketing tactics.

The Cannabis Capital Conference is coming back to Toronto! Click here to learn how you can join Tim Seymour, Jon Najarian, Danny Moses, Alan Brochstein and many others.

How Regulations Affect Cannabis

Joel Lunenfeld is chief marketing officer at NorCal Cannabis Co. Previously, Lunenfeld was at Twitter working as its brand strategy head. In cannabis, he said he notices the same restrictions that were found in early social media.

"The limitations we had early on — which were a lack of targeting and measuring tools, a lack of analytics and a lack of real native ads the platforms built over the years — they are not at our disposal today,” he said.

Lunenfeld said a lack of technology and targeting tools from these platforms leads NorCal and other cannabis companies to become "a bit scrappier." For NorCal, this means an emphasis on organic, community-driven content driven by influencers.

Nam Tran is brand director of ad and management agency The Goodfellas Group. Tran said social media regulations don't affect the company's focus on developing relationships with retail and dispensary owners.

"It takes a little creativity but it is definitely achievable," he said. "With our new brands, we focus on working with the stores to develop a solid consumer base within their local community. Doing this in multiple regions will allow the brand to organically grow on social media through word-of-mouth and real user testimonials."

Effective Tactics

Both Tran and Lunenfeld noted the need for creative marketing tactics. NorCal relies on outdoor and print advertising. The company also incorporates live events and works with influencers to, Lunenfeld said, “tell our story through their story.”

The Goodfellas Group taps into tactics from its past medical marijuana market forays: patient appreciation days, also known as in-store demos.

"It is a great way to work with a store to build a consumer base within their local community,” Tran said. “Once the store has the base, it is a lot easier for us to pitch the store on increasing our shelf space when they have a good existing business with the brand."

A Change In Policy At Facebook

The previously mentioned policy change at Facebook could alter how many cannabis brands advertise. For NorCal, it sees a path where its content marketing focuses on educating consumers and telling them about their options, safety and wellness usage of an item.

"With that approach in our content marketing ... with these platforms, we find them to be a bit more inviting to work with us in the future," said NorCal's CMO.

Social Media Slowdown?

For a year or so, reports have suggested that social media use is down virtually across the board. Notably, teens have shifted away from popular platforms from an earlier era.

Lunenfeld does not subscribe to this notion. He acknowledged that daily and some monthly metrics may be flat.

Yet: “the reach of social media, the off-platform reach, the embedded news stories and articles is larger than ever.”

Going forward, the CMO said he expects to see a crossover between cannabis influencers and those working in tangential sectors that launch brands and build communities together.

Effective Branding

Both Tran and Lunenfeld emphasized the importance of authenticity in branding. Tran also pointed out the importance of not becoming lost in the wealth of content online.

"Let's be honest, a social media page with just pictures of close-ups of flower will become white noise really fast. Becoming white noise is not good."

Lunenfeld singled out social equity efforts as well. He noted the importance of "products that have more good baked into the business model and local activation that really help raise up the communities that we work with."

Aside from the rumors of Facebook’s policy change, no other potential plans have surfaced as of late.

Related Links:

Report: Facebook Looking To Ease Cannabis Advertising Rules

Facebook And Instagram's Anti-Weed Stance Frustrates Cannabis Entrepreneurs

Posted In: Joel LunenfeldmarijuanaNam TranNorCal CannabisThe Goodfellas GroupCannabisGovernmentRegulationsTop StoriesMarketsTechInterview

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on Bankrate.com. The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the Bankrate.com rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.