7 Digital Must-Dos To Promote Your Cannabis Business

Light Bulb Concept

Promoting your cannabis business is challenging. Because cannabis is still illegal federally and laws vary from state-to-state, knowing what you can and cannot do isn’t always clear. While you want to avoid advertising with search engines such as Google and Yahoo, sending postcards through the mail, or setting up a store on Facebook, you do have options for reaching your patients and dispensaries.

1. Start With a Strong Brand. Creating a strong brand will build patient and dispensary recognition and give you a competitive edge in the market. Focus on what makes your products different and the shared values you have with prospects. From there it will be easier to connect with customers and introduce new products.

2. Go Organic Strategically. Choose your words carefully for your website and your social media posts. Hone in one the phrases and words patients and dispensaries use when looking for cannabis products, then hone in on other words specific to your brand and the shared values you project.

3. Follow Mainstream Social Media Rules. You can promote your brand on social media if you understand the ground rules. Earlier this year, Facebook dropped some dispensaries from its platform. This rattled the industry but the dispensaries hadn’t read the fine print for using the mainstream platform. Focus on education and brand recognition on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. (see How to Protect Your Cannabis Facebook Page for more insight)

4. Use Cannabis-Based Social Media Platforms. There are social media platforms specific to the cannabis industry and promoting your brand on them will be safer. By now you’ve probably heard of MassRoots, the first to market. But there are others including Duby, which is similar to Instagram and Social High, which is like Facebook–both are specific to the marijuana industry.

5. List Your Business on Cannabis Directories. Many of these directories are free and offer great back links to your website. Some worthy of mentioning include the Marijuana Business Daily Industry Directory, Medical Jane’s Database of Cannabis Businesses, and Ganjapreneur Business Directory, and Dispensaries.com.

6. Maintain a Blog. Writing your own content on your own blog is a great opportunity to share your story and your brand. Blog posts can easily be shared on social media platforms, can be extensions of your website, and can attract prospects based on your knowledge, industry insight, and personality.

7. Email, Email, Email. Connecting with existing patients and dispensaries by email is crucial. Collect emails at every turn if possible–at conferences, cups, online–wherever your brand intersects with prospects. Then create emails with impact and maintain contact consistently.

What’s been your experience promoting your cannabis business online? What’s worked best? If you’re struggling to promote your cannabis business, bring on a digital marketing expert to help!

 

 

 

How to Better Protect Your Cannabis Business Facebook Page; 6 Steps to Take Now

Facebook Cannabis PageIf you’re in the cannabis industry and have a page on Facebook, you are probably watching as one of the world’s largest social media platforms is taking down marijuana dispensary pages. With over 1.59 billion active monthly users as of December 2015, Facebook’s shutdown of three New Jersey dispensary pages made news early in February.

Medical cannabis is legal in New Jersey and three of the state’s five dispensaries received messages from Facebook saying their pages had been unpublished because their content didn’t follow Facebook terms. Dispensary owners and patients alike were surprised by Facebook’s move. Two of the three dispensaries now have pages back up on Facebook; one made edits and appealed to Facebook to have its page reinstated and the other dispensary started a brand new page.

A recent NBC News report about the page shutdowns included a statement from Facebook saying that the pages were taken down for “violating [the site’s] Community Standards, which outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook.”

While Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” the platform has a responsibility to all of its users. One paragraph in the company’s standards covers ‘regulated goods’ and states “We prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms. If you post an offer to purchase or sell alcohol, tobacco, or adult products, we expect you to comply with all applicable laws and carefully consider the audience for that content. We do not allow you to use Facebook’s payment tools to sell or purchase regulated good on our platform.”

Further, Facebook clearly states that it will “remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.”

And, though cannabis is legal in some form in 23 American states as well as the District of Columbia, it is still considered a Schedule I Substance under Federal Law. That makes publishing cannabis-related content on any social media platform a fine balancing act.

New Jersey dispensary Facebook pages are not the only ones that have been affected; news of other cannabusiness Facebook pages being blocked is filtering into the news from other states including Colorado and Arizona.

Could Facebook scrutiny of your page be next? Don’t wait to be warned to take action. Here are six steps you can take now to help safeguard your Facebook page…and what to do if your page is disabled.

1. Understand Facebook’s Community Standards and Terms. Many of us simply don’t read the fine print. When you create a Facebook page, you enter into an agreement with Facebook. Review the company’s Community Standards to understand what Facebook considers inappropriate and review their basic Terms of Service to understand the terms of your relationship with the social media platform.

2. Remove Sales Content, Photos and Prices. Facebook’s reach goes beyond the state in which you can legally sell medical and adult-use cannabis. Remove any reference to the sale of such products. While it is tempting to make your Facebook page an extension of your website, that’s not recommended. And, if you have a Facebook storefront, take it down.

3. Avoid Paid Promotions. Facebook can be tenacious in its suggestions to pay to promote a post or get more likes; that’s how most businesses can grow a presence on the social media platform. The platform pushes such offers to all of its business page owners. Do your best to look away and avoid these options. Anytime you pay to promote information related to cannabis on your Facebook page, it could easily be viewed as ‘advertising’ instead of ‘educational.’

4. Up Your Organic Game. Using the best keywords in your posts will help you build an audience organically. This is true for any social media platform. Focus on writing good content. Choose keywords that relate to your business and approach content as a way to educate others. Use hashtags. This is one the most important tools in your social media toolkit.

5. Avoid Photos of Cannabis Products You Sell. From a cannabis business perspective, posting images of marijuana buds you sell may make complete sense–even educational in nature. However, Facebook may draw the line at this because it is product for sale.

6. Focus on Building Relationships. At its core, Facebook is about connecting with people. Selling product shouldn’t be your primary goal of using Facebook. Rather, work at building relationships and engaging people. Find information that will be of interest to others related to your business and staff. Do you best to curate existing news articles to share on your Facebook page.

7. If Necessary, Appeal the Take Down or Rebuild. Should you receive a warning that your Facebook page will be disabled, go through the list above. And carefully read the email you receive from Facebook. It will provide a link for you to use to appeal your page being taken down. If your Facebook page is taken down, you have the option to create a new one–doing it within the Community Standards set forth by Facebook.

Cannabusinesses are not the only pages that are being targeted. Soon after President Obama introduced an executive order expanding background checks for gun purchases in January, Facebook banned private, person-to-person purchase and sale of guns on the platform.

With a focus on marijuana businesses and private gun sales, Facebook is likely feeling the potential of things to come. They certainly don’t want to be perceived as promoting unlicensed gun sales and the same could be said about cannabusinesses as long as cannabis is federally illegal in the United States.

This is another sign to the cannabis industry that advocating for de-scheduling of cannabis is needed. While there is no guarantee that Facebook won’t target your page, the best advice is to clean up your content and go forward with an eye on providing educational information to build relationships with people on Facebook. It may seem nearly impossible to do this, but with some creativity it can be done. And, if you need advice or assistance in creating great content for your posts consider contacting us for help.

Facebook Owns Corner on Content Sharing—Good News For Small Businesses Ready to Dip Toes into Facebook Water

This is intersting. eMarketer came out with a report today showing that Facebook accounted for 81% of content sharing activity in Q4 2014. In fact, the report shows that Facebook has expanded its share of content sharing by 8.2% year over year.

That’s good news for small businesses wondering if having a presence on Facebook is worth it. Not only did Facebook blow the content sharing numbers out of the water, the other social media platforms pale in comparison.

accounted for 81% of content sharing activity in Q4 2014 according to eMarketerCheck out the graph to the left. No other social media platform came remotely close to Facebook’s growth. And, email did better than LinkedIn, Pinterest, Blogger, reddit, and Twitter. Whoa.

eMarketer estimates that Facebook’s mobile phone audience is near 1 billion worldwide and sharing activity reflects mobile. In fact, Facebook accounted for 85% of mobile sharing activity among US internet users in Q4 2014; that’s up 51% year over year.

What are your thoughts on Facebook as a marketing venue? Still not sure if you want to dip your business toes in Facebook’s water? Misaki Digital Marketing can help your small business build a solid digital footprint and start raking in revenue online. Contact me today at elise@misakimarketing.com.

 

 

Why Not Take Your Blog To The Next Level This Year — 4 Reasons To Take Action

4 Reasons To Take Your Blog To the next level in 2015Blogging. When done well, it will serve your business well in the long term. In fact, if you give your blog the attention it needs and commit to writing and posting on a consistent basis, your customers will thank you for the valuable information.

Now is a perfect time to step up your blogging efforts. Follow in the footsteps of businesses that have obtained new customers, or patients, or students because of the engagement thru a blog (see first item on graph).

And, while many businesses agree they want to blog, very few continue posting articles. Why? Blogging is hard work. It takes constant attention, interesting topics, and valuable information. Committing to a blog, however, will most likely put you out in front of the competition (see second item on graph).

Sometimes budget can constrain you from blogging as much as 16 to 20 times (see third item on graph), but posting often will attract traffic in greater numbers than posting sporadically. Do what you can and focus on good content.

If some valuable content is good, more is better! Making a big impact takes many blog posts (see fourth item on graph). No one has said content marketing happens overnight and maintaining a good blog will take time. That’s why this is your year to dive in, make a difference in promoting your business online.

Have questions or want help getting a blog started? Contact me 612-822-2320 or elise@misakimarketing.com.