- Branding & Marketing, Cannabis, Cannabis Industry

Advertising Cannabis and CBD Products

What are the Best Approaches for Advertising Cannabis and CBD Products?

Cannabis is gaining more traction in becoming a legal item to sell, allowing many entrepreneurs to grow and distribute their strains and products.  One caveat that sellers are facing is the stigma that still surrounds cannabis sales and the gray area in which they are allowed to advertise for their items.

Since cannabis is a newly legal item, there is a lot of a grey area around its marketing, and some missteps could lead to unwanted consequences.  Marketing through social media sites may not be the best option; however, other options are equally as powerful as social media advertising with less risk attached.

Advertising with Social Media

Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are popular platforms for individuals and businesses to promote their products. However, there is still regulation around selling cannabis items, which are not always clear and interpretable.  To attempt to get advertising for a cannabis product, the seller must follow strict guidelines that are specific to the social media site, and the risk involved in trying to use these platforms for advertising is likely not worth the unlikely payoff of establishing a presence and gaining revenue through any of the sites.

The Drawback of Social Media Ads — Too Many Guidelines

There are several risks to posting on social media sites that come from many angles:

  • Violating guidelines from the social media site itself.  Guidelines around posting cannabis and CBD items are not fully ironed out by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, meaning that it is possible to violate a policy and be banned unknowingly.
  • Users who disapprove of cannabis could flag the content as unsuitable.  If this happens enough, this could lead to the seller’s social media account getting banned with little wiggle room to appeal the decision and re-open their account.
  • CBD products are a fully legal item across the US and can be sold in specialty stores, grocery stores, and is even present in some farmers markets across the country.  Despite its relative popularity and mainstream availability, it has not been fully incorporated as a viable product by social media websites.  While it is legal to advertise for CBD products on social media, there is still the risk of being associated with cannabis products and having your account shut down, wasting the money and effort put into advertising.

Topical CBD Creams — the Loophole

Facebook and Instagram are more lenient with topical CBD creams, due to their being inedible, they are less likely to be flagged as a drug or illegal paraphernalia.  Topical CBD creams are accepted merely as a product that has no dangers of mind-altering effects. While this loophole makes little sense in terms of the different ways in which to ingest CBD, it also reflects how our society views products like cannabis and CBD.  Since topical CBD is overall a more socially acceptable item by the general US population, it is generally a safe approach to post ads of topical CBD products on Facebook and Instagram with less fear of being banned from using the site.

Advertising Beyond Topical Creams

Most companies do not restrict their sales to topical creams, and only advertising these products would limit their customer base.  Sellers who have a mixed product base containing their selected best CBD products online will not bring in customers who are interested in a broad mix of products. 

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, and it is instrumental because of its easy accessibility.  Additionally, it is a low cost, allowing anyone to use it as a platform, and democratizing the ability to promote ideas and products.  Unfortunately, it is too risky for cannabis and most CBD products.

Building a Consumer Base through SEOs

So, how do we get around this?  How can an entrepreneur who is interested in promoting their cannabis and CBD products get their product out, without having to worry about violating any policies?  There is another easily accessible option, and unlike social media, there is much less risk in being banned and losing all the work and followers that entail social media advertising.

Sellers can use a different approach called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Search engines like Google do not heavily monitor and remove content like social media sites.  Therefore, if someone is interested in a cannabis or CBD product, they are likely to Google what they are looking for before going on social media sites.

A savvy cannabis consumer is likely aware of the grey area which surrounds cannabis and CBD use and will rely on researching products through a search engine, which makes marketing through SEO an even better option than using social media sites.     

The Power of SEOs

So, what is SEO?  It is as it sounds, you are optimizing the power of user searches by making your content show up as a top result. Usually, when you Google something, you go through the suggested links from the first suggested link and continue until you feel satisfied with your search.  SEO takes advantage of this human behavior by making your content appear in one of the top results, which will lead to heavier traffic to your content.  Generally, people trust the sites that end up at the top of the search engine results, as people trust it is a valid and often frequented site.

Benefits of using an SEO

There are many benefits to using SEO:

  • It makes the consumer feel like they are in control of the content they find.  Consider which scenario sounds more rewarding, as a potential buyer: would you instead buy something because someone was trying to sell it to you, or would you instead buy something that you actively sought out and felt like you made the best choice in your purchase?  Consumers will prefer the latter, as it makes them think that the product they chose was their own choice, well researched, and a sort of “discovery” of their own.
  • SEO does not require an elaborate marketing strategy beyond the product’s site.  Coming up with strategies to reach out to consumers through advertisements, calls, or product placements takes a lot of time and money, and in this sense, SEO is a much more passive strategy to finding customers — they come to you!
  • You do not have to worry about continually changing regulations around cannabis and CBD.  Since the consumer is actively seeking you out, it is up to their discretion to decide whether it is safe and legal for their consumption.
  • Since customers are actively seeking you out, they will likely also be your advertising base.  If your product is a success, customers will recommend you through word of mouth, through forums, or even casually through social media sites.
  • People who are not interested in your product or people who feel uncomfortable with your product will not have to see it unless they actively look for it.  This means there is no unwanted attention for your product, nobody flagging your product as inappropriate, and so on.

Content Freedom through SEOs

Without being required to follow the guidelines of social media accounts, it is possible to advertise products through your ideal approach.  For example, since customers are actively seeking you out, you can offer a description of your products and their best use as an informative piece on different CBD application methods.  This builds a trust base for serious users and the content freedom to do so.  

SEOs over Social Media Advertising

We should celebrate the advancements made towards legalizing cannabis and CBD but also be aware that we are not entirely at the stage where the community fully embraces products.  It is crucial to consider the surrounding perceptions of these products, and change the strategy of making cannabis and CBD available to the public.

Social media sites have made paid advertising of these products all but illegal, and the money and energy put into advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter could lead to little payoff.  Other options would appeal to the market base.  SEO is a great way to promote cannabis and CBD products without worrying about the hassle of following nebulous rules and regulations that are required on social media platforms.  Using SEO makes it possible for interested customers to come to you, thus filtering out any unwanted attention towards your product.  By using SEO, you can get a lot of benefits without any risk.

Advertising Cannabis and CBD Products

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