These days, cannabis products are all over, from the grocery store to ecommerce sites. It’s not surprising that some research predicts the CBD industry in the US could pass $20 billion by 2024. While it’s easy to find a variety of CBD products, this wide selection of offerings means that each cannabis brand needs to work very hard to distinguish itself. It’s all too easy for a customer to confuse the brand of CBD gummies they bought with the brand of tea they purchased, or the rub-on cream they got for joint pain. Here are some tips to help your brand stand out:
Digital Branding is Everything
With an increase in customers shopping online in general, and the easier availability of CBD products there, digital branding is the key to product differentiation in the cannabis field. Everything is important, from the brand colors and logo you choose, to the personality conveyed by your product descriptions, website copy, and social media posts.
Social Media Marketing is Different for Cannabis Brands
Social media is always an important part of any digital branding strategy. But platforms like Facebook and Instagram don’t allow paid advertising for cannabis brands and have strong restrictions about what you can post. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore social media. You can and should still work on your organic reach.
Several cannabis brands do well with videos on the site. Instagram is quickly evolving to become more video-friendly, with videos making up 18% of its content currently. Insta limits video posts to 60 seconds, but this may actually be too long—Hubspot found the videos with the most comments averaged 26 seconds.
So what do you put in your videos or other posts if you can’t pitch your products? A lot, actually. Alien Labs’ founder Ted Lidie talks about farming and growing his product. He also puts some serious time into responding to comments and engaging with fans. It helps that people connect with Lidie’s offbeat personality and genuine approach. If you can find the right, unique personality to appear across your brand’s social media platforms, this may give you a boost.
Set Your Brand Up Carefully on Social Platforms
It’s important to note that Alien Labs, PlugPlay, and other successful cannabis brands’ bios specifically say “Nothing for sale.” However, they also include a link back to the brand’s website for anyone interested. Several also note users should be 21 to follow the brand. Some brands set their feeds to private—an unusual move for business accounts that typically want to get into Insta’s “explore page.” However, when you’re in a regulated industry, it’s safer and better for your brand if your content is just for fans of your product.
Choose Influencers Carefully
Unlike your brand representative, influencers will talk about a product on their own heavily-followed feed for a price. Getting the right one can be tricky, but very rewarding. Old Pal’s CMO Allison Pankow notes the brand experimented with a lot of high-volume influencers in the past, but wasn’t always happy with the results. Some of the influencers came off as fake or insincere—essentially just pitching the product for a paycheck. While there’s no way to guarantee this doesn’t happen, Old Pal is now focused on cultivating relationships with edgy, artistic influencers who will actually use the product, and talk about it in a relatable way.
Pay Careful Attention to Visuals
Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or your own website, it’s important to have a distinctive look for your brand. Decide your brand personality up-front—many cannabis brands go with psychedelic, neon colors. Alien Labs uses tiny alien heads in many of their visuals, while Old Pal creates 60s/70s style posters and shares them. Here it’s important to remember your target market—do you want to go after an audience in their twenties, or older users who may have bought cannabis products in very different ways in the past? Once you’ve defined your target market, think about the things they’d like to see on a website, in their inbox, or in their social feed if they follow your company.
Personality is Everything in the Cannabis Space
This leads us back to brand personality. An edgy or offbeat vibe can do very well in this industry, but don’t overlook possibilities for humor. Clout King was established by Isaiah Dawid, who started a personal Instagram account in 2016 to make jokes about how he’d been growing cannabis—and getting arrested—way before others started doing it as a legal business. When people asked what brand he liked, he’d tell them, “My own.” Eventually he decided to start his own cannabis brand, which he named Clout King as satire. “The whole idea of Clout King is a joke, like do you think I care about clout?”
Find the Right Places to Reach Your Audience
Again, this comes back to understanding your target market. You may be able to engage with the younger crowd on Instagram or TikTok, but if you’re interested in older Cannabis users, you’ll want to spend some time on Facebook, while Pinterest’s audience is mostly female. Understand the usage rules for the site you choose and do your best to stay compliant.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Although you should absolutely cultivate your social presence, due to advertising restrictions on those platforms, a strong SEO strategy is essential. Don’t know where to start? Seek the help of a professional who can perform a comprehensive SEO audit for you, to determine opportunities for improvement. They will likely make recommendations about new keywords to implement. However, it’s important to remember that SEO isn’t just something you want to do once, or a few times a year. At Digital Delane, we understand it’s a long-term process that involves continually trying new keywords, optimizing your strategy, and A/B testing keywords or site content. If you don’t have an in-house SEO expert, you’ll want to find a professional who can handle the job long-term. This area is worth the potential investment.
Content is King in the Cannabis World
You’re probably heard “content is king” before. It’s especially true in this industry, as it allows you to reach people without advertising on social media. Posting blogs on your own website, as well as doing guest posts, are great ways to raise brand awareness. You can write informative or educational posts—for example, you might talk about different strains and their uses. Or you could talk about the process of growing and processing cannabis, or the recipes you develop for edibles. These types of posts hold your audience’s attention without any hard-selling tactics. If they’re also entertaining, they’ll be very shareable as well.
Blogs aren’t your only option—consider how-to videos or even fun stuff like music videos featuring some of your products. You also might book a company representative on a podcast to talk about related topics, like cannabis laws or the technical side of formulating your products. User-generated content can also be popular, especially if you can fuel interest with a fun hashtag or campaign.
Cannabis is a growing market estimated to reach more than $42 billion globally by 2024. But because it’s such an attractive market, many companies are already in the space, and new entrepreneurs join the market daily. For this reason, it’s essential to develop a strong digital branding strategy focused on your brand’s unique personality and specific target market focus.