• Jessica Kaiser

Cannabis Brands on Instagram: Do’s and Dont’s

A recent statement by Instagram (released by Kiva) gives cannabis brands strict guidelines for using it’s service. Surprisingly, they do not say that it’s completely prohibited...

“Instagram does not allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. This is primarily because most federal laws, including those of the United States, treat marijuana as either an illegal substance or highly regulated good. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. We do however allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug. Dispensaries can promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also promote its sale or provide contact information to their store.”

Here are some basic guidelines to making the most of Instagram with your brand, without as much risk of being shut down:






DO:


Use a real camera, or a great smartphone

The best pictures are taken with professional cameras


Stick with brand color scheme, if possible

Someone should be able to look at your aesthetically pleasing page as a whole


Tag other accounts in comment and picture

Make sure to tag different accounts, getting your images reposted is a great way to reach a new audience


Edit your photos in a 3rd party app

Instagram filters can only achieve so much, try Photoshop or GIMP, a free editing software


Use relevant hashtags

I know “#ourdiamondsarefire” describes how you feel, but “#wedontsmokethesame”reaches a much larger audience. Make sure that people are actually using and visiting the hashtags you’re using


Choose photos that show the product and packaging

Great marketing conveys a message, but also familiarizes the audience with the product. Show them what to look for on the shelves without directly pushing them to complete the sale.


Educate on your products

Now that you have a captive audience, give them ideas on how to use the product, where to use the product, and how it’s made


Follow relevant hashtags

Follow hashtags that are in line with your brand, this both familiarizes you with the competition, and gives you a way to comment on relevant posts from your homepage


Like and comment on other posts

Liking and commenting on posts is a great way to start the conversation, and get attention from potentially long lasting followers


Use a variety of images

Make sure you are keeping it fresh so people know that they can get the newest information and pictures from your brand


Post daily

With every day you don’t post, your viewership will drop. Make sure to post daily to make sure you’re at the top of your follower’s minds







DON'T:


Don’t divulge prices, or use dollar signs

You cannot give out prices because that can be misconstrued as selling cannabis online


Don’t give out contact information

This violates Instagram’s terms of use and can get your account shut down


Don’t use stock images

Use images that are related to your brand identity, without always showing the use of cannabis


Don’t show someone illegally using cannabis

Showing someone smoking a vape pen in a vehicle or dabbing in public is not a good look for any cannabis brand. Make sure you are focused on compliant use, or better yet, avoid pictures that show the product being used at all


Don’t make picture grids

Picture grids are the confetti of Instagram, in a bad way. Your followers only end up seeing part of a larger image while they’re scrolling through their feed, which is annoying and can result in the loss of followers


Don’t argue with other brands or followers

The internet is full of trolls, don’t give into temptation- once something is online it’s public and can be screen-shotted and used against you later Don’t cut out any demographic


Don’t isolate any people groups

Just because you’re marketing to 21-35 year old females, doesn’t mean you should assume it’s your sole viewership. Don’t post images or phrases that can be seen as insulting to any people-group, and make sure to stay diverse with the models you use. Thin blonde girls are beautiful, but so are chubby men, older people, and people with a wide variety of beautiful skin tones!


Don’t allow followers under 21

As far as marketing in cannabis goes, you have to be able to prove that your viewership is up to 75% 21+. As an extra precaution, it can be smart to make your page private to give you a chance to deny younger followers





Just to be clear, none of this is assuring your page won’t get flagged or deleted. Just as you can take steps in the industry to mitigate your risks, the same holds true for the online world. Use your best judgement, and have fun!

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