Social media marketing for the cannabis/CBD industry 2020

As ridiculous as it is, the same fear and misinformation that birthed the 1936 propaganda film, Reefer Madness still lurk in the mainstream. And though most informed citizens now know that, generally speaking, cannabis and CBD don’t actually make “women cry for it” nor “men die for it”, that doesn’t mean they’re OK with it coming out of the proverbial closet without a fight.

And so marketing platforms are cautious about giving this industry newcomer a seat at the table.

As a result, it’s challenging for cannabis and CBD brands to find ways to reach their intended audiences. If major advertisers and publications like Facebook, Instagram, NY Times, Buzzfeed, and Spotify will NOT work with the cannabis industry, how do brands in this industry grow?

How can CBD/cannabis brands maximize social growth without paid advertising?

It’s all about having a smart strategy that blazes a trail around Big Box platforms and into the paths of potential customers. A successful approach will need to respect the fundamentals of strategic storytelling. And, of course, brand consistency (especially in an industry that’s flooded with misinformation and confusion) is more important than ever.

When it comes to tactics, it’s not about throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. There are methods and modalities that work really well to help cannabis/CBD brands grow and find traction.

Without further ado, here are my 4 steps to maximizing your brand’s growth without paid advertising.

Step One: Brand Strategy

Take time and invest in resources to nail your brand strategy before you try to scale up with social marketing. It sounds obvious, but this is one of the most overlooked, underutilized, and done-wrong steps in content strategy and social media marketing. WARNING: if you skip this step, each step that’s downstream from here (hiring a social media manager, writing content, designing creative, working with brand ambassadors, etc.) will be “off,” not feel right, or will totally miss the mark. 

Done right? Professionally done brand strategy could be the difference between consumers seeing your brand as “The Devil’s Lettuce” vs. “Medicinal Plants That Heal.”

Know your brand’s qualities and know who you’re talking to. Know your Unique Value Proposition – how are you different? This is critical. 

Our Experience Shows:

  • Consumers are picking up on quality and safety as a differentiator. If you’re going above and beyond to bolster the quality of your product and using safe, ethical, and sustainable extraction and production – talk about this. Skepticism is growing about the integrity of the industry.

Step Two: Find Your Partners

Take the old no man is an island adage seriously and work with ambassadors, influencers, and third-party content partners as much as possible. With brand strategy done, you can solicit appropriate partners accordingly.

Our experience shows:

  • It’s wise to ensure that you’re working with your partners on an ongoing basis over a longer period of time, not just one-off promotions, as this will improve trust among their audience.
  • Offering to sponsor giveaways for influencer audiences works. The influencer would introduce us to their audience and we’d garner a massive push of growth.

Step Three: Use Live Tools

Go for it by tapping into Facebook and Instagram live.

Our Experience Shows:

  • Yes! You can go live on Facebook first and repurpose on IGTV.
  • You can split and stream to both platforms at once, but don’t sweat quality as much as flexing transparency. For example, THIS one we produced – the quality isn’t 100% prime but shows the brand’s willingness to bring the audience as close as possible to day-to-day operations which, over time, will affirm their UVP.

Step Four: Invest in SEO

All hands are on deck and now’s the time to maximize all organic marketing available to you, SEO included. Worried that you can’t compete with brands that have scored investors and have cash loads to dump into the bottomless SEO bucket?

Fear not – you have a leg up. A) Because you invested in brand strategy, you have access to an arsenal of creative and scrappy tactics. And B) these brands are likely producing loads of content that departs from their tone of voice (whoops, they didn’t do their brand strategy). While you’ll have the opportunity to do less, more powerful, and targeted work.

Our Experience Shows:

  • You can leverage the popularity of voice search and incorporate the features of voice assistants into your website and content.

Does content and social strategy always have to start with brand strategy?

It’s certainly not a panacea, but it is the difference between building your business on a foundation of flimsy twigs vs. a concrete pad that’ll weather the storms of changing legalities, policy, and public opinion. Plus, it makes your other marketing efforts a hell of a lot easier.

Curious about how we can help your brand succeed? Let’s connect!

KW Content is a global content and social media marketing agency that develops and launches content and social media programs for purpose-driven brands. Strong Brand Social is our favorite place to hang out! That’s where we provide the absolute best (and most accessible) social media marketing education that empowers small brands to develop their own high-performing marketing programs that are guaranteed to drive growth. Teaching from our proven agency methodologies, we simplify the process and demystify the art of social media marketing to offer focus, efficiency, and measurable results to small business owners, brand directors, and social media marketers. [Learn more.]

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