When you think of the ideal place to find new customers while offering a vast array of targeting techniques, you think Facebook. Others have successfully used the website to market their product, such as a San Jose dispensary. However, this is not viable for everyone. Unfortunately, Facebook and many other platforms refuse to take ads for cannabis products of any kind. You think this is stopping the weed businesses? Nope. They’re out there using a variety of hacks to get around the bans.
So, what are cannabis companies doing?
One option is paying influencers to spread the word about weed products from edibles to topicals. A lot more focus has been on “wellness influencers” who are emerging at the informal authority on cannabis.
Working with Publishers
Companies are working directly with publishers on branded content to use their social credibility; it can still be shared to social media since the content is editorial and not strictly promotional. Nevada-based cannabis company Caviar Gold did just that. They worked with cannabis news site Herb on a video that advertises its range of flavored products, which was posted to Herb’s Facebook account that has almost 10 million followers.
Creating fake pages
We don’t recommend it, but some companies are creating fake pages to test what kind of ad content will fly. The result: These niche businesses are playing something of a cat-and-mouse game with Facebook and other platforms, seeing what they can get away with. Word of advice: Don’t test on your own page — it could be gone the next day.
Companies are making their Instagram profiles private, not advertising prices and making sure that they don’t provide ways for users to order products directly from their page.
The more generic the content, the better. Companies are creating content that appeals to cannabis consumers, without explicitly offering them weed to purchase. You can target cannabis consumers and you can brand to them. You just can’t directly solicit their business. Companies will also avoid using language in posts that references cannabis so “algorithms don’t crawl the ad.
Social media platforms themselves aren’t exactly clear what kind of content they will accept. Their policies tend to be blanket statements. Facebook’s, for instance, reads: “Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.” However, ads with educational or advocacy content are fine.
Meanwhile, social media platforms like MassRoots and Weedmaps, which cater exclusively to marijuana enthusiasts, have emerged, ready to take the ad dollars that Facebook, Instagram, and others are so ready to give up. However, platforms like MassRoots also have much smaller audiences that already frequently consume cannabis, which is why they still plug away on Facebook, where they can find a broad reach — at least for a short period of time. Even with Facebook blocking their paid ads every two or three days, they still try to “push those boundaries” because it’s worth the impressions its ads receive before Facebook’s algorithm pulls them down.