Cannabis Social Media: 12 Ways to Optimize Your Cannabis Brand’s Instagram Account
Anyone with a Smartphone can run an account on Instagram.
But when you want your social media and web presence to directly impact your traffic and sales in the cannabis industry, there a few simple things that you can do for your Instagram account that can help significantly.
1. Create a back-up account.
“We don’t know what our nipple is,” says Alex Pasternack, head of business development for edible cannabis products provider Binske.
Pasternack isn’t confused about anatomy. He is describing his efforts to learn why IG temporarily suspended Binske’s Instagram account, without warning, and then eventually reinstated it.
Instagram’s rules against certain female body parts are clear. However, the rules when it comes to posting about cannabis are not.
Cannabis isn’t federally legalized yet, and you probably already are aware of the many still grey areas throughout the industry. Those grey areas, naturally, carry over into the cannabis social media marketing space.
This is why Instagram still has the power to temporarily suspend, or even permanently remove, your account.
While your main focus should be on your main account, you should create, and consistently have access to, a back-up account.
Creating a back-up account may not keep your main account safe, but it will grant you a chance to have an already optimized account that’s ready to roll in case anything happens to your main account.
We recommend, though your main account should be your focus, that you consistently post to your back-up account at least twice per month.
This will keep your back-up account relevant by beginning to accumulate followers and future customers and clients.
2. Keep your brand consistent.
Resist the urge to add a sweet pic of a frosty purple nug as your profile picture.
Social media for people and brands are two very different things.
We recommend that the color palette, aesthetic, and brand voice that you used for your website, print ads, and any other media are translated onto your Instagram page for a very consistent brand experience (Psst…Your profile pic should probably be your logo).
Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a high-quality nug pic.
But we say, put your brand’s stamp on it! Use a filter that portrays your brand personality and cleverly incorporate your logo into the image.
Don’t be afraid of creativity and thinking outside of the box when it comes to marketing your cannabis social media brand.
3. Follow and engage with brands relevant to your niche.
Are you a Sacramento cannabis dispensary? Follow and engage with the content posted by the brands that you provide!
Are you a cannabis brand? Follow and engage with content posted by your distributors!
Connecting and engaging with other pages in our industry can help you start your initial audience and follower base, and build a sense of community.
If these accounts end up following you back, you begin to establish yourself as being on the same playing field, and your followers – and eventually, customers – will be interested.
Don’t be shy when it comes to engaging and connecting with industry-relevant brands in the cannabis space. We don’t bite!
4. Be strategic about how often, and at what time, you post content.
Social media plays to those with very, very short attention spans. Whether you love it or hate it, that’s how it is.
The name of the game when it comes to cannabis social media content is the frequency of posting and the time at which you decide to post your content.
Ideally, you’re going to want to be posting at least once, but not more than twice, per day on Instagram to begin noticing the engagement that you’re looking for from your followers.
The time that you post to Instagram during the day is crucial.
In the same way that TV programs want to be on air during high-viewing times, the same goes for Instagram.
Though it’s slightly different for each market, there are general trends that show what times are best for posting Instagram content.
Although Instagram still hasn’t added a feature where you can schedule a post for a later time (it’s about time though, IG…take a hint!), there are certain 3rd party programs that can help you to plan and schedule content, monitor engagement and interaction, show you the analytics that you need, and all that good stuff.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of hashtags, but be careful not to use the wrong ones.
The biggest thing that hashtags can give you is more exposure to your niche. Not to your industry. To your niche.
Hashtags are brilliant in that they are able to easily connect people, companies, and brands with similar interests, services, and products to one singular page.
Using hashtags to your advantage can be highly beneficial.
They’re easy, effective, and fast. Does it sound too good to be true?
That’s because it kind of is.
If you try to gain followers from really general hashtags like #weed and #420, your post will be lost in a sea of other hopeful stoner content.
That’s why we recommend getting to know the audience in your niche and being very specific when using hashtags. Use hashtags that are relevant, unbranded, and not too long.
For example, #916stoners may be a lesser-known hashtag than #weed, but you’ll have much more exposure. Plus, you’ll be targeting stoners specifically in the Sacramento area (Sacramento dispensaries – I’m looking at you!)
Now, don’t get too excited and overdo it with the hashtags.
According to an analysis by TrackMaven, posts with 9 hashtags performed the best when it came to engagement.
Rather than stuffing those nine hashtags in your post, put them in the comments section of your post! There’s nothing more annoying than a cluttered social media post, and if you put your hashtags in the comments section, the impact is the same, but your post is not nearly as messy as it would’ve been.
And lastly, make sure you know exactly what your hashtag means before you post it. A Hootsuite blog recalled a story about an infamous hashtag gone wrong.
It was 2012 when it all went down. Susan Boyle had just released a new album, and the hashtag that they had used to promote it used the phrase, “Susan album party.” Which makes sense. However, without spaces, some people perceived “Su’s” party to be something…different…
6. Ask your followers to engage with your content.
Or better yet… tell them to! It pays to be a little bossy on social media.
A call-to-action — or a CTA if you want to sound fancy in the marketing world — is very important in all of marketing, let alone social media.
When you ask your followers to “like if you love!” or “double tap if you agree”, it invites them to take action and engage with your post, and therefore your brand.
The Instagram algorithm works to show posts that have more engagement to more people. So the more engagement your post gets, the more people will see your post! It’s a no brainer.
Getting people to like your posts is essential. No need to beat around the bush about it!
7. Use both image and video content.
Posting videos to your cannabis social media pages is essential to your online presence, especially on Instagram.
Videos are especially valuable for your page because they’re oh so sharable.
When you create great video content, your followers will want to tag their friends. And their friends will want to tag their friends. And their friends will want to tag their friends.
See the pattern?
Video content is extremely trendy right now, and if done right, the content will grow its own legs and promote itself through the engagement and sharing process.
You definitely don’t want to cut corners when it comes to captivating video content on your Instagram page.
8. Experiment with content to track which images and videos get the most love.
There’s no formula for marketing yourself and your brand on social media that works every time.
If there were, we’d all be rich and famous.
Creating content on your Instagram page may take some trial and error. But don’t worry, it’s all part of the process.
If you post something that doesn’t really resonate with your followers, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just don’t be afraid to ask yourself the Why.
Do the research to figure out what exactly it was about your post that didn’t hit with your audience so that you can hone in more on what your niche is really looking for.
We also suggest that you go through the same process when you post something that really works. Ask yourself the Why!
Why did that post resonate? What did my followers love about that content?
Learn from your past social media mistakes and successes, and you’ll see growth in no time.
9. Don’t forget about Instagram stories!
Ah, stories. The section on Instagram where you can share content for 24 hours – kind of like our old friend Snapchat.
Cannabis social media stories are great for mixing content from your camera roll with in-the-moment images and videos.
They’re also a perfect way to show off the demo in your dispensary, or the booth you’re hosting at that big local event.
Instagram stories are a great way to connect with your audience… even if it is only for 24 hours.
Once you get big enough, and you start to collaborate with other Instagram accounts and take over each other their stories for an exposure win-win for both businesses.
10. Cultivate relationships with relevant influencers.
Engaging with accounts with a much higher following than you may eventually lead to the influencer wanting to promote your account.
If you’re creating content that’s so great that it’s inspiring everyone who follows, including influencers, you may not have to pay them to give you a shout out.
By building a genuine relationship with an influencer, you may be able to achieve an organic (or free) shout out, which could result in a big influx of followers.
So make sure your page looks right on the day of their shout out!
11. Run contests and giveaways.
Everyone loves free stuff.
Giveaways and contests are an amazing way to gain a lot of followers in a very short amount of time.
But be careful, ganjapreneurs!
Don’t give away any actual cannabis products! It’s illegal af!
However, gear, merch, and other miscellaneous related non-cannabis-infused items are all fair game.
Got an extra vape pen battery? An extra bong? Some hempwick? Maybe a branded lighter or some cool branded t-shirts? Have a contest!
Have your applicants tag a couple friends and follow your account to enter, and watch as the numbers rise and rise and rise.
Either specify where you’ll ship, or if you have a dispensary, let your followers know that they can pick up their prize at your dispensary. Fair warning though – that limits you to local applicants only.
People will only drive so far for free stuff.
12. Repost and share relevant content
As long as you’re giving the credit to the original poster, re-posting relevant content and tagging industry-related accounts is a great way to expand your reach and connect with other accounts in your niche.
You can (and should!) do this in your main feed, and in your story feed. Tag the original poster (in the image and in the caption) so that your followers know that you’re connected with the account.
One thing to keep in mind is to stay on-brand while reposting content from other accounts. Just because you love an image or a video, compare it to your color palette and brand personality. Does it make sense? If so, post away!