As a dispensary operator, you have most likely looked at every possible way to market your retail store. The marketing plants you create are going to be the source behind your success at getting people to visit your store. One of the many marketing strategies you’ve most likely come up with is using social media to get your brand out there. Social media platforms like Instagram serve as an excellent way to get your brand out there.
For years now, Instagram has been one of the best places for dispensaries to market their business. Instagram’s popularity within the cannabis industry is considerably high, especially since it can reach current and new customers. However, Instagram isn’t very welcoming to those in the cannabis industry. Since the platform is owned by Facebook, it would normally be enough for most cannabis business leaders to stay away from Instagram. Most cannabis businesses that have created an Instagram account have had it deactivated or entirely shut down.
Despite these issues, plenty of cannabis businesses continue to use Instagram to get the word out. It’s often due to the platform offering tons of features that allow cannabis businesses to expand, reach and engage their followers.
Why should you market on Instagram?
While Instagram can make most people walk on eggshells when it comes to marketing a cannabis company, there are several reasons why most of them are willing to put up with those issues to market their brand on the platform.
According to a report published by Pew Research Center, over 37% of all U.S. adults use Instagram, with two out of every three adults between the ages of 18 to 29 use Instagram. The platform’s rising popularity doesn’t just stop at 29, though. Over 40% of older millennials and GenX (30 to 49 years old) can also be found using Instagram frequently.
Instagram has more than a billion active users each month. It’s become one of the most go-to platforms for the cannabis industry. Furthermore, according to Instagram, over 60% of people have claimed to discover new products on its platform, with 80% of accounts following a business on the platform. The audience is the younger generation who are willing to connect and engage with companies while making new purchases they discover on the platform.
The algorithm used by Facebook tends to hide most organic posts from your followers unless a company pays to advertise or boost it. However, the Instagram algorithm works entirely differently than Facebook. Instagram provides users several ways to be discovered organically without needing to worry about advertising. That’s excellent news for any dispensary out there since they are not legally allowed to advertise per Instagram’s guidelines. Dispensaries can be found in several ways on Instagram by using hashtags, location tagging, stories, and much more.
How to prevent your profile from being shut down
Try to keep a low profile when managing your Instagram account. You need to engage with your followers respectfully and follow the rules. Don’t go overboard on what’s allowed by trying to run advertisements, sell products, or show the consumption of cannabis. Never attempt to sell anything on the platform. Avoiding this is crucial since it has been one of the many reasons why dispensaries have had their accounts shut down.
Don’t attempt to promote the sales of any product on your Instagram account. You should also avoid linking to a page that sells cannabis products from your website as well. Instead, link to a branded merchandise, educational content, or your blog. Just make sure to avoid linking pages that sell cannabis because that will lead to an immediate shutdown of your account. Some accounts even go so far as to include a message in their bio that expressly states that nothing is for sale.
Stay away from posting images or videos that show the consumption of cannabis. There are plenty of reasons for this rule, but one of the primary reasons is that Instagram has no option to filter children away from the accounts. Dispensary owners need to keep in mind that children could also end up on these pages. Showing the consumption of marijuana is one of the many ways to a violation of the Terms of Service and Community guidelines. Regardless of it being a post, story, video, live stream, or IGTV, don’t post anything cannabis-related.
Moreover, you should include an age requirement. One technique dispensary businesses do if they are selling a flower or plant-based product is to add the age of requirement into the bio. For instance, including a must be 21+ to follow shows the platform that you are strict about following the rules and regulations.
Lastly, some businesses decide to make their profiles private to prevent the possibility of having them shut down. That grants them a greater sense of control and minimizes the chance of being reported to Instagram. However, making your profile private limits the chances of being discovered, which is usually the primary reason dispensaries use the platform in the first place. If it makes you feel secure, and you’re using Instagram to engage with existing customers, then it should be an excellent option for your dispensary.
What if the account is shut down?
If Instagram does shut down your account because of a violation, you could attempt to appeal the decision. Some dispensaries have succeeded at getting their accounts reactivated through the appeal process. However, if your appeal is denied, then you need to swiftly activate your backup account. Once done, make sure to communicate to your audience on your newly formed Instagram account.
Planning your marketing campaign
As mentioned above, Instagram can be used to reach new audiences, boost brand awareness, and potentially increase your sales. To ensure that your cannabis Instagram strategy is efficient, there are three things you need to consider when marketing your business on social media:
- What are your goals?
- Who is the target audience?
- What does the target audience want to see?
- What value are you providing them?
Every business will be using Instagram for many reasons. You need to look over your audience, company, goals, and resources to ensure you can use Instagram in the most efficient way possible. One crucial step that dispensaries need to do is drive their target audience back to their website, blog, or any other digital space they own to acquire the visitor’s information. It’s not a good idea to heavily rely on social media platforms. The moment it gets deactivated, you’ll be losing tons of precious audience members and losing the momentum you built up.
Experiment with Hashtags
Instagram allows its users to use a total of 30 hashtags for every post made. To effectively reach out to your target audience, you want to make sure you use all 30 hashtags. That means you need to experiment with the combination of hashtags that are most relevant to your dispensary. Try using a combination of hashtags that are popular, mid-level, and not used by many individuals. You should also include a hashtag that is custom branded to your dispensary to make it more noticeable. By utilizing a varying amount of hashtags, you are providing longevity to your content.
If you stick to only using the popular hashtags, the post you make will be lost quickly in the sea of other posts using similar hashtags. Although by using a combination of hashtags relevant to your dispensary, you grant a longer life to your posts and help make sure it reaches the correct audience.
Furthermore, a study published by AgoraPulse revealed that, on average, posts gained more engagement when the hashtag was included in the post, instead of just in the first comment space. So, instead of placing hashtags on the first comment, switch things up instead and set them up after the first comment.
Like any other social media platform, Instagram tends to place videos in front of the people you are targeting. Instagram has increased its focus on video, which means that dispensaries need to use various tools of Instagram to post their story. These videos can be many things, such as showing off seeds, plants, products, and so forth. Get creative with these videos and show something that will catch the attention of your target audience. Instagram has provided users with an excellent way to capture the dispensary experience through the power of video recording.
Instagram grants you several ways to use video on its platform:
- Video posts: This allows you to record short videos that are uploaded onto the feed and have a max duration of one minute long.
- Live video: The feature allows you to go live on Instagram. Doing so will send out a notification to your followers who can hop on once they notice your life. It’s an excellent way to stay in front of your followers.
- Instagram Stories: Users can use videos along with posts, texts, and Boomerangs in their Instagram Stories. These Stories are highlighted so your followers can easily spot them on their feed. When you tag a location and include a hashtag in the story, the visibility is boosted.
- IGTV: IGTV is somewhat similar to a video post, except the videos can last for 10 minutes, but there are exceptions for profiles that have more than 100,000 followers. It’s one of the best options for highlighting your brand story, conducting interviews, how-to videos, educational content, and so forth.
Instagram serves as an excellent location for dispensaries to market their brand to their target audience. While there are restrictions that you need to be careful of, that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out to these people. There are plenty of ways to reach out to your customers while using Instagram. All it takes is some careful planning and providing them with compelling content that will have them returning for more.