Social Media Marketing Challenges in the Cannabis Industry
Cannabis has been legalized in 15 states for recreational use. It is also legal for medicinal use in 20 additional states, with questions like how to get a medical card in Utah replacing those of when medical cannabis will be made legal. This shows that the country is moving forward towards a legalized future. With just a handful of states having strict laws forbidding any kind of marijuana use, it is hard to believe that it is still such a controversial topic in some spheres. While the drug is still outlawed across the world, those in the US have far more freedom, and yet companies still face many issues when trying to brand and market their businesses as a force for good, rather than one for bad. So, why is it so difficult for companies in the cannabis industry to use effective social media marketing?
It’s still taboo
As we earlier stated, cannabis is still a touchy subject for many. A large proportion of the population still frowns upon the use of the plant, even for medical purposes. Cannabis is something that you are unlikely to talk about if you are meeting someone for the first time. It is not everyone’s usual dinner table conversation topic. For this reason, it can be hard to tell what someone thinks of cannabis without just asking them.
With social media taking over many people’s lives and being the primary mode of contact for many friendships and relationships, many people are cautious about what they post and interact with. But this extends to businesses as well. New businesses that are diving into the cannabis industry with a history in another industry, and perhaps with an audience or customer base from another niche, will be hesitant to brand themselves as an affiliate of such a controversial industry such as marijuana.
For many, the fear of turning off old customers in an attempt to get new ones can be enough to prevent them from marketing their cannabis-related activities on social media. But what about the businesses with no other commitments, the ones that are solely cannabis-related businesses?
Well, they still face challenges, especially ones to do with regulations. Some social media sites will not favor posts and content about cannabis, for fear of getting themselves into trouble. One of the problems faced by all businesses is that social media now rewards those that pay for advertising, often far more so than those that put out good organic content. This means that if you want to market your cannabis business on social media, advertising is what you need to get the best returns. But social media sites like Facebook and Twitter don’t run ads on drugs and drug-related products.
This means that until these social media sites realize the potential good that cannabis companies offer, and until the public understanding allows it to become less taboo, it will remain extremely challenging for businesses in the industry to market themselves effectively through social media.
This article has been published in accordance with Socialnomics’ disclosure policy.