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Hashtag Cannabis: Using Social Media to Market Your Dispensary

It may seem impossible to imagine a world without the ever-present reality of social media, but the reality is that in the realm of business, it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Words like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn didn’t even exist when most of today’s adult workforce was in college and high school. However, today they are an integral part of everyone’s lexicon, along with cell phone and app technology that’s exploding at an unprecedented speed. This means that many people–including the vast majority of your dispensary’s customer base–will have all of these platforms available at their fingertips and in their pockets 24/7. So how do you effectively harness the power and availability of social media to your best advantage when it comes to marketing your dispensary in the best way to reach the consumers you need to?

Social media marketing is one aspect of digital marketing, but it’s important and powerful enough as a stand-alone to deserve its own set of considerations. It’s important to keep in mind that many social media platforms prohibit paid cannabis and dispensary advertising due to the substance’s Schedule I designation. Thanks to this, your business may need to come up with creative and organic tactics. Don’t let this discourage you, however. Social media marketing is essential, and opportunities are likely to get better as more platforms get more comfortable with rapidly changing laws. In the meantime, keep some of these ideas in mind:

Find Your Audience and Engage Them There

There are so many social media platforms out there that it can actually be a little overwhelming. But the reality is, your audience is much more likely to pay attention and interact with you if they are actively being engaged. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Ask questions and have your followers post responses. Have people post pictures of themselves outside your establishment or holding your products. Run contests with products as prizes and giveaways. Engaging your consumers is a better idea than simply posting status updates and expecting people to read them and remember what you have to say several times a day, every day.

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So, do you know where your customers are? Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular social media platforms today:

Facebook: The 800 pound gorilla of social media, Facebook is a broad platform that offers a lot of options, including custom tabs to integrate your other social media outlets. Consider your Facebook page a mini version of your website. It’s a good place to post images, your hours of operation, news updates, blurbs, articles, and any other pertinent information that your target audience may find valuable.

Twitter: Text, images, and video links–all shared 140 characters at a time. This is a great place to post news updates, specials, links to articles, and questions to your followers. Keep an eye out for trending hashtags and play around with different types of messages until you find a tone and style that resonates with your followers.

Instagram: An image-driven platform, Instagram is incredibly popular among the cannabis community. As such, it is highly recommended that your dispensary set up an account. Take care to create artistic photographs and creative, beautiful images of your products (this is a good place to play with filters and imagery) that reflect your brand and resonate with users and patients. Connect with your audience here, and you may be able to build your user base in a way that would otherwise be out of your grasp.

YouTube: Don’t worry about addressing this platform if you don’t have the bandwidth or budget for video marketing just yet. However, it is recommended that you snag your brand’s user name and create a YouTube channel if it is at all possible. That way, whenever you’re ready to dive into the world of video, you don’t run the risk of having lost the perfect YouTube page name to someone who was quicker to register it.

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LinkedIn: Best known as the professional’s social media platform, LinkedIn is the best place for posting things like business updates, job openings, and business communities and partnerships within your niche to negotiate deals and agreements with.

Pinterest: If your brand and archetype resonate especially well among women, it may be worth your time to check out Pinterest, which is four times as popular among females as men. It’s a platform that boasts a wide demographic as well–with an audience that spans from Millennials and Baby Boomers to Gen Xers and everything in between. Use Pinterest to create category-specific infographics, boards, images, recipes, and other quick, catchy content.

Don’t Over-Promote Yourself

People are bombarded with ads on a daily basis and are trained to sniff out hidden self-promotion from a mile away. It grows weary, and will turn off consumers quickly. Don’t use social media to do nothing but post advertisements or promos. A good rule of thumb is to keep these types of posts limited to one in every seven posts. Instead, use your time on social media to share insights, news, and interact with your audience.

Link to Outside Sources

The cannabis world is exploding right now. News, science, and popular culture are buzzing, and people want to stay on top of the latest. Make yourself an invaluable resource and customers will come to consider you a trusted name when it comes to all things weed-related. Think of the things that interest you and then keep your consumers in the loop when it comes to new, relevant information. Provide fresh, up to date content in one convenient location–your location–whether that’s your Facebook page, Twitter feed or other social media account.

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Target Your Local Audience

News. Sports. Weather. Your customer base is a local one. Let them know you’re part of the local community as well by staying engaged in the things that matter to those around you. If it’s happening locally, connect with locals about it. Ask opinions, get involved, and give back when you can. Big sports events are an easy way to jump in and show your local colors–basically, you can harness the multi-million dollar advertising and marketing budget of professional sports teams for free. Likewise, local issues and events that matter to your consumers should matter to you.

Keep Your Tone Human, Professional, and Reflective of Your Brand

It can be tempting to use social media for your dispensary the way you would your personal account. But keep in mind that your voice and tone is a direct reflection of your business. Keep the tone professional and friendly–you don’t want to sound robotic or overly serious, but you also don’t want to come off as inappropriate or too casual.

Your messaging should align with your company’s aesthetic. Playful or serious–keep in mind that a touch of humor goes a long way towards showing a human side to your brand’s archetype. When posting messages, use “we” instead of “I” to make it clear that the content is coming from the brand itself, and not an individual.

#Hashtag Effectively

A great way to track social engagement across several platforms, incorporating hashtags strategically can go a long way towards getting your message across and jumping in on trending topics. There are even services you can use to show you how much traction particular hashtags are receiving. You don’t need to pepper every message with 20 hashtags (and honestly, that is annoying to readers) but doing a little research as to trending keywords and the hashtags to incorporate at the moment can push your messaging to the next level.

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