There are 3.48 billion people using social media today. That means there are a whole lot of eyeballs looking at any given channel at any given time. It’s little wonder marketers see social media as a golden opportunity.
Social media channels also offer more than a chance to see and be seen for cannabis companies. The right social media platform can help a company reach new potential customers. It also makes it easier to interact with those who already buy and use their products. Social media can be a place for relationship-building and letting customers ask questions, and the company can then respond in a proactive manner.
For most cannabis marketing teams, there’s no question that social media needs to be in the mix, but there is a question about which social media channels you should be using. After all, there are so many to choose from already, and more seem to crop up every day.
For a successful social media strategy, cannabis companies need to consider which platforms they want to be active on. Factors like audience demographics and even the channel’s attitude toward cannabis must be considered.
So which platforms are the best for those in the cannabis industry? Let’s take a look.
Take a Look at Audience Demographics
The first thing any cannabis marketing team needs to consider is who they want to reach. Different people prefer different social media platforms.
Age is an easy way to see this in action. Currently, the user base of Facebook tends to be older. Instagram skews much younger. Teens and younger adults also tend to be more attuned to new platforms.
Gender is another demographic factor. If the company’s audience is largely female, then Instagram is likely the top contender. Women make up the majority of Instagram users.
Occupation, education level, and income are other considerations. Professionals in certain industries are likely to have a LinkedIn profile. A cannabis company may be able to connect with them there. Keep in mind that LinkedIn tends to be about making connections with colleagues and business leaders. It’s less of a tool for marketing to consumers, but can still be a good platform choice for B2B brands, such as seed-to-sale software companies.
Engagement Rates Vary Across Platforms
Another key consideration for choosing a social media platform is engagement rates. Not every channel’s user base is as engaged as another’s.
There are a few reasons for this. Instagram is one of the best platforms for engagement, partially because it’s so easy to hit “like.”
Perhaps surprisingly, LinkedIn is the platform that performs the best overall. This may be because the content that appears on the platform is tailored to the audience’s interests. More than half of LinkedIn users report they engaged with content on the platform because they found it educational.
LinkedIn also drives almost half of traffic to B2B blogs and other posts. Facebook and Twitter, the two other largest advertising platforms, drive the other half. Of all platforms, LinkedIn is also the most likely to convert a visitor into a customer.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn tends to focus on B2B connections, rather than B2C. That may help to explain why it converts so well. The people using it have budgets, and they’re looking for solutions to problems. That doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice for all cannabis companies, but it also shouldn’t be ignored.
Facebook is one of the largest platforms, but it has relatively poor engagement. Brands see a median of just 0.9 percent click-through rate on ads.
One of the problems here is the algorithm. Facebook’s algorithm is notorious for limiting the reach of organic posts by businesses. While paid posts do better, the algorithm can again limit who and how many people see an ad or post.
Another factor to consider is which social media channels are experiencing growth. Twitter seems to have stalled out. A purge of fake bot accounts in mid-2018 may account for the less-than-impressive growth.
On the other hand, Instagram is steadily adding new users. The platform is still popular with the younger crowd, but it’s now being adopted by older people as well.
Catering to Content
Next, cannabis marketers should think about the types of content they plan to offer. When talking about content, you can’t ignore YouTube, which is actually the second-largest social media platform. People often forget about it because it’s so focused on video.
Still, YouTube beats out Facebook when it comes to garnering engaged video views. Facebook still leads over Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn when it comes to video.
If you’re planning to produce video content, then, it might be wise to share to both Facebook and YouTube.
You may also want to look at how different types of content perform across the same platform. On Instagram, video posts perform better than images. Images still perform better than carousels. Instead of posting a collage of five pictures, it’s better to pick one stunning image or create a video clip.
Even on text-driven platforms like Twitter, graphics outperform text posts. If you plan to use Twitter, it’s wise to include images and videos in as many tweets as possible.
Who Is Cannabis-Friendly?
One of the persistent problems for cannabis marketers has been the removal of content and accounts.
Almost every social media platform has been known to remove cannabis content. Instagram has removed posts about industry events and entire accounts. Facebook is well-known for its hostility toward hemp advertising.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, hosts plenty of cannabis-related content, although the majority of it isn’t being shared by brands. Concerns about advertising could be at the root of this. Google has been experimenting with CBD ads for its Ads program, but with restrictions. In this environment, YouTube may use its algorithm to deprioritize branded cannabis content. It may still allow similar content from other producers.
Even Reddit and Pinterest tend to be neutral or even hostile to cannabis companies.
This has led to some people calling for cannabis-friendly social media platforms. While no social media platform is cannabis-friendly, this could change soon.
There have been some efforts to create cannabis-specific platforms. Many of these platforms take their cues from existing social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. The twist is that they focus on connecting cannabis lovers. Only a few of them are aimed at businesses.
None of these cannabis-specific platforms are particularly good for growing beyond an already-existing customer base. The people using them are likely already cannabis consumers. You may find someone who hasn’t heard of your brand before, but you’re just as likely to find brand evangelists.
What Platform Should Cannabis Companies Use?
That brings us back to the initial question. Which social media platforms should those in the cannabis industry use?
When it comes right down to it, Instagram hits most of the marks for most cannabis companies. The platform is growing and has good engagement. It also reaches two core cannabis audiences better than other social media channels: younger adults and women.
Facebook would likely be the second-choice platform. YouTube could be a good selection if your company is already producing plenty of video content. LinkedIn is a great option for cannatech and other B2B platforms, or for startup companies looking for investors and funding. Adding Twitter to the mix isn’t a bad idea, but it should probably be given less focus.
Developing a social media marketing mix is a good plan for most companies. Instagram may help a company reach their core demographic, but what if they want to reach new markets? Many older Americans are curious about cannabis. They want to know about the health benefits of CBD, but they’re not using Instagram.
This is why a mix of platforms makes sense. Choosing one or two to start is a good plan. Content can be developed for one platform, then shared and re-shared across platforms. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram all work well with video content, for example. A cannabis company may focus on Instagram, then move some of its video content to Facebook and YouTube as well.
Create a Killer Social Media Strategy
No matter which platform(s) you choose for your social media marketing, you need to have a strategy behind it. If you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch. We’ll help you choose the right platforms, then develop the content and strategy to keep likes rolling in.