In today’s world, it seems that if your business isn’t on social media, it isn’t a real business. Let’s take a look at social media from this very specific business model. Does this remain true for marijuana based businesses? If so how, is a Cannabusiness (cannabis + business) different than any other business on social media? What platforms should a ganjapreneur (ganja + entrepreneur) look into? What kind of limitations or restrictions can they expect? So, with these questions in mind, let’s get started.
Are Marijuana based businesses on social media?
In a word…Yes. A quick search(must be logged into Facebook) on Facebook shows that there is no shortage of marijuana centric pages on the most popular social media platform to date. The same search on Twitter, the 2nd most popular social media platform, comes back with almost identical results. As a matter of fact, searches on LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ all show that marijuana businesses and profiles are present and accounted for on social media. So the question, are you on Social Media?
Are Cannabusinesses treated differently on Social Media?
The quick answer is…kind of. Clearly, weed businesses are allowed to stake their claim on the social frontier, like almost any other business. However, a look thru the user agreements and terms & services agreements of the many sites reveals that they are indeed limited in someways. The most notable is they are prohibited from advertising on their respective sites. What does that mean you ask? Let’s look at Facebook for example. As an owner of a business centered around pot and its by products, you are welcome to have a Facebook page (different than a Facebook profile) however you cannot purchase ad space on the social network. With recent changes in their business page algorithms, advertising has become the number one way for a business page to gain new fans. Facebook is basically cutting themselves off from, what industry analysts are describing as, a billion dollar industry.
Marijuana businesses shouldn’t feel left out however. The same restrictions in advertising falls on tobacco and adult products/services. A full breakdown can be found on Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines online. This may indeed turn a few people off when it comes to having a presence on Facebook as a social media platform. So if not Facebook, then where should a Cannabusiness go for social media? That leads me to the next question:
What social media platforms should a marijuana based company look to join?
This answer is not so simple. I cannot say you should jain A, B, and C. Why? It depends on what you are looking to get out of the platform. Are you looking to let people know about sales? Do you want to give your customer/patients a way to reach you? Do you want to raise awareness for your company? Once you figure out the main purpose for being on social media, all decisions made should be centered around that goal. However, you should begin by asking yourself, what social media platform are my customers on? After all, what ever your goal is, you need to go where your customers are, first and foremost. Figure out who your target market is and see where they are. Let’s take a broad look at the newly legalized Colorado market and social media. According to Internet World Stats, Colorado has a population of just over 5 million people. Of those 5 million, 2.3 million are on Facebook. That means just under half of the population Colorado is on Facebook. If you have a Cannabusiness in the Centennial State, you may want to seriously consider having a Facebook presence, despite the marketing limitations.
Truth be told, you will find similar marketing limitations across all social media platforms. This just forces Cannabusinesses to become more savvy, and provides an opportunity for ganjapreneurs who can speak tech to move ahead of the pack, but those are subjects for later posts, perhaps.
Social Media is a viable platform for marijuana businesses and their customers, however, it isn’t as easy as it once was. Cannabusinesses need to become more creative and think beyond paid marketing on social media, because they don’t have access to it…yet. The most important thing to keep in mind is that once you are on social media, your presence must be treated like your store front or other brick and mortar location. By that I mean: You wouldn’t ignore a person who walks into your place of business? Treat online visitors as you would in person.