The cannabis industry is booming, which means more brands are leveraging social media as a channel to promote their products, share educational information about cannabis use, and advocate for decriminalization, social justice and destigmatization. However, due to strict community guidelines from several social media platforms, and government regulations around the promotion of marijuana products, many brands are having a hard time building their communities.
While cannabis is listed as a federally illegal, Schedule I drug, more than 35 states allow its recreational or medical use. Cannabis community and culture are thriving and will continue to do so, especially seeing as how the cannabis industry is expected to be worth over $60 billion by 2024, and support for federal legalization is at an all-time high (68%). Now more than ever, brands are fighting for higher visibility amongst cannabis consumers.
Even if cannabis is legalized at the federal level, there will always be a gray area in terms of how cannabis brands can operate on social media. Whether you’re running social media campaigns for a dispensary or leveraging social for education and advocacy, the best thing you can do is learn from how other brands are taking their content to the next level.
The challenges of cannabis social media marketing
From 2017 to 2019, I led social media strategy and content development for several cannabis brands—both retail and product. Knowing that I would face challenges while trying to build their social media presence, I studied each platform’s community guidelines and policies religiously. My model was to find creative ways to promote our products without pushing a sale.
Focusing on educational content worked for a period of time, but after growing our brand’s Instagram audience to over 10,000 followers, our account was suspended and our content was removed.
Because of this, I looked to other industry professionals for their insights. Many cannabis and social media industry experts have shared their tricks on how to navigate the space. Their recommendations range from excluding cannabis-related hashtags on posts, not putting dollar signs in your copy, or not using creative that depicts cannabis consumption. Despite these helpful tips, the ever-evolving landscape of both the cannabis industry and social media community guidelines leave room for uncertainty on how to engage audiences in an authentic and compliant way.
4 brands elevating their cannabis social media content
Fortunately, there is a growing pool of brands bravely navigating the complex cannabis industry landscape–and standing out on social while doing it.
1. Weed For Black Women
Weed for Black Women is a media, culture and community hub that I co-founded with a focus on educating people on the power of the cannabis plant while advocating for change within the cannabis industry and the destigmatization of cannabis use. Even though our platform launched a couple of months ago, in February 2022, we have been able to grow our audience at a rapid rate by focusing on educational and relatable content for our communities on Instagram and Twitter. We did have a couple of occasions in which we had to go through an appeals process to reinstate our removed content, but we were able to successfully resolve this with Instagram.
The lesson: Making the quality of content, rather than quantity, our priority has allowed us to connect with our community in a way that drives more impactful relationships and keeps them wanting more.
2. BROWN GIRL Jane
BROWN GIRL Jane is a cannabis brand focused on delivering plant-based wellness products to its consumers. From CBD-infused oils to fragrances and candles, they are bringing a new point of view to the typical cannabis product. With stylish and aesthetically pleasing visuals, their content makes you feel like you step right into the essence of their brand.
The stunning photography evokes warmth, earthiness and approachability for the consumers that are new to cannabis-based wellness products. BROWN GIRL Jane leans into creating content that focuses less on selling their products but more on how their products can be included in their consumers’ everyday life.
The lesson: As is the case for this brand, investing time into building a strong visual brand identity across channels not only shows consistency but also reiterates the message you want to share.
Monday has us reaching for calm like…..
Balancing gelèes in your favorite botanical and fruit flavors (because gummies could never). pic.twitter.com/sofgaKBSZZ
— BROWN GIRL Jane (@BROWNGIRLJane) April 11, 2022
3. Gorilla Rx Wellness
Gorilla Rx Wellness has become most notable for being the city of Los Angeles’ first Black-women-owned dispensary. Not only are they leveraging Instagram to connect with their community of Crenshaw, but they are also building an even larger community for cannabis lovers in California and beyond. Frequently, they showcase how they partner with local artists, creators, and makers to support other businesses and brands in their community and also fight the stigma on cannabis use.
The lesson: Keeping your community top of mind will always be beneficial for your brand in the long run, because the people in it won’t just be community members—they’ll be your biggest and loudest brand advocates.
Black female owned dispensary GRAND OPENING on Crenshaw, August 25th. The name is GorillaRXWellness. Can we RT this and show up as much as we RT memes laughing at stereotypes of our people?
4233 Crenshaw Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90008 pic.twitter.com/IXfVelmC3P
— RushDee Williams ???? (@RushDeeOfficial) August 21, 2021
Weedmaps is one of the largest tech companies serving the cannabis industry. Known as the go-to resource for finding dispensaries, products and doctors in marijuana markets, they create informative cannabis plant-specific content by tapping into the culture created by the cannabis community.
While they have a large presence on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, they are one of the few brands that are partnering with cannabis influencers and creators on TikTok to spread awareness of their brand. This helps them keep their brand at the forefront of their customers’ minds while avoiding compliance repercussions.
The lesson: Incorporating influencers and content creators into your content strategy is a sure-fire way to amplify your brand message beyond your own audience and introduce your product or service to new communities for the first time.
Cannabis community, culture and content aren’t going anywhere
Cannabis social media content is here to stay. As the industry continues to be more profitable, brands will uncover new ways to grow their budding communities while navigating network policies. (Yes, that was a weed pun.)
For cannabis brands that want to grow through digital platforms, I’d recommend not putting all your eggs in one basket. While many brands are thriving on social, there are still challenges. Diversify your channel presence so that customers have access to you in a variety of spaces, which is needed in regulated industries. Above all, find inspiration from other brands’ creativity, and keep experimenting to find the approach that works for you.
Looking for more resources to refine your social content strategy? Grab our worksheet to get started with creative testing on social.