Maybe you had a viral post that gained some serious traction, only for it to get deleted because of Instagram’s rigorous restrictions against the plant. Well, it’s not just cannabis, but drugs in general.
Even if you’re headquartered in a state where cannabis is recreationally legal, marketing your safe, legal, and high-quality goods on Instagram is no walk in the park.
If this is something you or your brand can relate to, let’s dive deeper into marketing cannabis on social media, the restrictions, and how cannabis brands can market their goods while still remaining compliant with the law and Instagram’s guidelines.
Photo by Culta
Cannabis brands have experienced the wrath of Instagram’s community guidelines first-hand. These community guidelines state the following:
“Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms, alcohol, and tobacco products between private individuals, and buying or selling non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs are also not allowed. We also remove content that attempts to trade, co-ordinate the trade of, donate, gift, or ask for non-medical drugs, as well as content that either admits to personal use (unless in the recovery context) or coordinates or promotes the use of non-medical drugs.”
The key takeaway here is “non-medical drugs,” aka recreational cannabis. Basically, the only way you can talk about the personal use of cannabis is if you’re sharing a story about recovering from it.
This is because cannabis is still illegal at a federal level in the United States. It’s still on the list of controlled substances, so promoting it takes some serious planning if you want to shimmy through these complicated guidelines.
Finally, Instagram’s choice of which accounts to flag and deactivate is very inconsistent. It’s not uncommon to see brands marketing their products like no tomorrow, and then your account ends up getting deactivated for something you thought was okay.
Although Instagram’s guidelines are rather complicated, there are a few things you can do to ensure your brand’s account won’t get flagged or deactivated.
As aggravating as it sounds, you simply cannot reference cannabis, the sale of cannabis, or any products your brand offers. Here’s a more thorough list of things to avoid when posting cannabis marketing content on Instagram:
Before we get into what’s “allowed” on Instagram, you might be wondering if it’s okay to post images and videos of cannabis or someone using cannabis.
Oddly enough, these posts sometimes get a free pass. However, it’s essential for brand owners and social media managers to understand the potential consequences of posting pictures and videos of cannabis.
The first time Instagram notices you’re posting content that crosses its community guidelines, you could have your account deleted almost instantly.
This is the worst-case scenario. Some brands and content creators have been lucky enough to get a warning, and maybe even a second warning. Sometimes, there are no warnings at all, and you wake up to a blank page.
You can also easily get shadowbanned after receiving a warning or two from Instagram. This essentially means that your posts will not reach as many people as they once did.
So, it’s in your best interest to follow Instagram’s community guidelines if you truly want to use the platform for effective and successful marketing.
Photo by InsideCreativeHouse / Adobe Stock Photo
The best way to avoid cannabis marketing hiccups on Instagram is to center your page around your brand rather than your products.
If your company doesn’t have much in the way of branding, now is a better time than ever to start thinking about:
With this in mind, you have the creative control to create a page that truly reflects all that your brand is about. This helps consumers form a better relationship with your brand, and it also makes it easier for people to resonate with your ideas and values once they’re shared on your page.
Explain what your brand promises and how you put that into action. Give consumers a look at the behind-the-scenes process of your brand’s day-to-day; maybe that’s getting a new shipment or taking a tour of your headquarters.
If you really want to reach the most people possible, it’s essential to post often and consistently.
Post at the same time every day and at the best possible times (when people are most on their phone, depending on your demographic. For example, adults who have lunch breaks from 12-1 pm and get off work around 5 pm).
Don’t be a ghost page. By that, I mean posting tons of content but not engaging with your fanbase. Like a comment, pin a comment, reply back; this is key in order for consumers to feel like they’re not connecting with some corporate company, but a brand with a heart.
It might also be wise to reach out to influencers who might want to partner up and promote your products. But, for brands that might not be at that level yet, we suggest using hashtags that relate to your post.
Hashtags that reference cannabis, like #cannabis and #marijuana, do not exist because of Instagram’s community guidelines. That’s where you need to get creative and think of keywords that relate to your brand but could also reach a new audience of consumers. A few examples include:
Marketing your weed brand can be challenging, and it takes time to learn what’s allowed vs. what’s not on Instagram. With the tips above, you should reach your target audience in no time.
Is your brand interested in building a marketing plan? Visit our page on how you can grow your revenue with Herb.