Many traditional forms of advertising are unavailable or too costly for many cannabis businesses today. This is perhaps why so many of them have turned to social media to engage with their customers and expand their overall reach. However, many of these businesses are also realizing that just being on social media isn’t enough. You have to go in with a plan in order for your social media efforts to pay off. You also have to pay close attention to what you’re doing every step of the way so that you can make sure you are representing your brand well, and following each channel’s guidelines accordingly.
Social media also isn’t rocket science.
And so, without further ado…
5 social media basics for cannabis businesses:
1. Set Specific Goals
The first thing you need to do when putting together a social media strategy is figure out what it is you want to accomplish with social media. You can start by answering these questions:
- What are your goals for social media? Is it to increase awareness? Improve customer service? Increase brand loyalty? Drive sales?
- How will you measure whether or not you are achieving your goals? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to determine success or failure (also keep in mind, specific KPIs will vary for different channels; video views may be an important KPI on YouTube, where a post share is a more important KPI on Facebook).
Continuously tracking and analyzing your social media efforts will help you make informed adjustments to your overall strategy and plan, instead of having to guess from month to month.
2. Lay the Foundation & Protect Your Brand
After you determine what your goals are and how you’ll measure them, you need to lay a strong foundation for your brand on social media. Here are our steps for laying a strong foundation for your social media strategy:
- Determine which networks you will be using (Google+ and Facebook are must-haves for all cannabis businesses. Instagram and YouTube are also extremely valuable channels if you’re able to develop photo and video content for them).
- Claim, add up-to-date and complete business information, and verify each social media profile.
- Brand your profiles. Make sure your profile photos are set to your logo, and that the cover photo you use for the header image helps express your brand aspirations. Claim custom URLs and handles that include your business name (Bonus: include city name if you’re a brick and motor business with one location or service area).
Lastly, it’s extremely important if you’re allowing multiple employees to access and use the company’s social media accounts that you create clearly documented rules for social media posting that each employee agrees to adhere to in writing.
3. Find Your Voice
Don’t post content to social media just to post content. Everything you share on social media should be shared to entertain, inform, or provide utility. Before you post anything to social media profiles, ask yourself does this content entertain, inform, or provide utility to my target audience?
That last part is also important. Your article may be incredibly informative or entertaining, but you have a target audience to consider first, what content do they find entertaining, informative, and useful? Here are a few other tips to help you develop a voice and plan for social media:
- Conduct a competitor audit. What is the competition doing? What aspects of their campaigns do you like? Which aspects do you dislike? How can your brand use social media to stand out from the rest?
- Don’t be afraid to be different! Most cannabis brands are making the same claims right now: great quality for a low price. The brands that are having the most success are the ones that are striving to be different.
- Pick a posting frequency. Two things to keep in mind when figuring out a posting frequency: each channel will be different, and the frequency can and should fluctuate over time.
- Test! The thing about social media is that there really are no right or wrong answers. There’s not one day and time that is best for posting on Facebook for every business, you’ll have to determine what works best for you! Determining that comes from testing, and watching analytics.
We would also recommend that you keep in mind that your brand is more important than ‘Likes’. When social media is done right, it can be a powerful voice for your brand. Brands that fail at social media, fail to be different; they try to be like the brands they’ve seen by replicating tactics instead of examining strategies. Don’t just create campaigns that push followers to ‘Buy Now!’ create content that truly informs, entertains, and provides utility to your audience, and the sales will follow.
4. Be Social
One thing people often forget about social media, is the importance of being social. When followers engage with you by leaving a comment it’s important that you engage as well and respond whether the comment is a positive one or negative one. That is not to say every person on social media should be responded to, but if they’re asking for a price, or link to a certain page, or if they just leave a comment that they enjoy following the page, these are all great opportunities to have meaningful conversations with your customers and potential customers.
Your customers are going to talk about you online, they’re even going to complain about you—this is why not only monitoring the conversations online about your business is so important, but engaging in them when appropriate is too. Not every customer will contact you directly through the private contact form on your website to tell you (the business) how unhappy they are, but they might go on social media and talk about you.
Insert yourself in those conversations early, often, and with care. Show your audience you are listening, you are engaged, let them know that you take their feedback seriously, and do it publicly so that others can see how responsive your business is as well. Here are a few other tips for being social on social media:
- Take your audience’s feedback into serious consideration. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time, but sometimes your audience can provide truly insightful feedback.
- Create a set of rules and processes for responding to positive and comments. Ensure individuals managing social media profiles understand rules and processes and have practiced giving timely, professional, and engaging responses.
It may help to think of social media as a party. No one wants to talk to the guy who just talks about himself and doesn’t listen to or respond to anything anyone else says. Be engaging.
5. Reach the “Unreachable”
All of the top social media platforms continually tweak their algorithms to better favor individual user-generated content, over content developed and posted by businesses and corporations. This means your business’s post can have a difficult time being seen by all of your pages followers, even if they’re on the platform at the time of the posting. Here are a couple of tactics that may help you reach more people:
- Create visually appealing content (photos, memes, infographics, videos), that stand out better in newsfeeds. Even text quotes can be turned into a visual or short video.
- #Hashtags and Keywords! When posting on Instagram, make sure to use hashtags that other people are using to search for similar content. On Facebook, Google+ and YouTube, it’s incredibly important to use optimize your posts for target keywords so your post can appear in search results within the platform and Google.
It’s no secret these social platforms are tweaking their algorithms so that businesses are required to pay to play, but a little bit of money can go a long way on Facebook and Instagram. Boosting posts allows your post to stay at the top of your page, and top of your audience’s and their networks’ newsfeed for the duration of the ad spend. If you want to reach even more people, in target areas, and demographics, Facebook and Instagram both offer sponsored posts and ads.
And there you have it, our 5 tips for developing a solid social media foundation and strategy for your brand.