Instagram Marketing for Cannabis Businesses — Full Guide

More and more cannabis businesses turn to Instagram to grow their brand and social media following.
Only that their presence is met with waves of resistance and their accounts keep getting taken down over and over again.

It can be a very discouraging process. Especially if you don’t know how to promote cannabis content the right way.

Avoiding the Censorship Hammer

If you want to avoid getting your account taken down, and create a social media strategy that is sustainable and censorship-proof, you need to understand how Community Safety Guidelines and Terms of Service work.

Most accounts get taken down due to community guideline infringement reports. Initially, only reported posts will get flagged, but once you get more than a couple of reports done on your content…Well you can say “Ciao Ciao” to all the hard you’ve done.

Also, sorry to tell you, but adding disclaimers to your bio like “Nothing for sale” or even making your account private won’t keep you from getting shut down.

Unfortunately, content like “bud porn” or anything that explicitly showcases Cannabis will increase the chances of your account getting disabled.

So, If I can’t post cannabis pictures what am I meant to post?

That is a question that afflicts most cannabis business owners and entrepreneurs.

The secret is to create a content strategy that encompasses not just cannabis, but also the lifestyle aspects around it.
Instagram accounts that successfully represent their audience interests through content (other than just explicit cannabis posts) can easily overcome the censorship conundrum.

Accounts doing Instagram Marketing the right way:

@weedhumor 
Weed Humour (one of the biggest cannabis accounts on Instagram) uses cannabis related memes and other humour laced content as a strategy for growth. If you look closely, explicit cannabis posts make less than 1% of their total content.

@beboefamily
Using a combination of art and luxury Beobe is able to create a sustainable content strategy that aligns with their brand values. As a result, they’re able to keep on growing without issues, and they’re one of the few cannabis businesses who has attained the sough after verified badge.

The Takeaway

You don’t need to straight-up copy what these accounts are doing, but you need to look back at your brand, research your target market, and create a content strategy that resonates with your audience interests and lifestyle. 
Remember to keep “Budporn” to a minimum!

GROWTH

The algorithm

If you use Instagram with some regularity, you probably heard about the Instagram algorithm before. The algorithm for most part is somehow portrayed as some kind of a mystical creature with a mind of its own.

There are ton of theories of what it does, how to trick it, but in reality, most people who talk about it don’t even know nuthin.

Based on information disclosed by Instagram, and extensive experimentation done by top Instagram Marketers, there are ways to capitalize on “algorithmic exploits”. This means leveraging the algorithm to accelerate growth and increase reach.

#1 Prioritize Engagement with your audience

This is way more important than growth. A well engaged audience of 500 people will generate more sales than an audience of 5000 people who don’t care about your content.

Make sure you take the time to go through your followers posts and engage with them. Make it a daily ritual!
The more you nourish your followers the more they will reciprocate.

On that note, It’s important to know that if your page gets little to no engagement, Instagram will automatically show your posts to less people. Keep your community engaged to avoid that!

#2 Increase Post Frequency

One post every two days is just not enough. 
I’m a big fan of three or four posts daily. Remember, posts have a limited lifespan and your followers aren’t all seeing your content at the same time. 
The more posts you put out, the more eyes you will get on your content.
Oh, and goes without saying that post quality matters..Alot!

#3 Use the right hashtags

Most likely than not, everything you know about hashtags is wrong.

If you didn’t know, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post.
Hashtags should be used strategically, so your content can rank as a top post under multiple hashtag streams (Ideally all 30 of them).

Achieving this is hard, and if you have a small/medium sized page, it’s going to be almost impossible to rank as a top post if you only use broader hashtags like #weed, #cannabis, etc.

Together with broader hashtags you should add less competitive ones, like #weedlifestyle or #cannabislife to maximize your chances of ranking as a top post.

If you want to know how to differentiate competitive from less competitive hashtags, simply go to Instagram and type in your preferred hashtag. This should show you the number of total posts ranked under it.

Lastly, arrange all your 30 hashtags according to size (Number of total posts under a hashtag stream).From less competitive all the way up to mainstream ones.

Done correctly, hashtag research can help you increase the reach of your posts exponentially.

#4 Join engagement groups

Engagement groups can be found within Instagram or in other platforms (e.g. Telegram app). 
In an engagement group everybody participating is willing to like and/or comment on other members’ posts in exchange for their own posts getting liked and/or commented.
They are are great way to make your posts explode.

BONUS:

Instagram Tools that every cannabis marketer needs to know:

Schedugram 
Instagram scheduling tool

Audiense 
Fantastic tool to gather insights about your audience

Iconosquare 
Number one analytics tool for Instagram

Social blade
Free tool for basic Instagram account stats.

NameCheck 
Great to find available usernames

Ninjaoutreach 
Great tool to find and reach out to Influencers.

If you need help with Instagram Marketing or want to learn how to maximize your account potential, feel free to email me at andre@cannagram.co

Happy growth fellow cannabis mavericks!