Yay or Nay? Cannabis business, what is allowed on Instagram?

Today's cannabis entrepreneurs must be smart and creative, but it is possible to spread the news of their cannabis brand to users interested in Instagram and beyond. By using carefully crafted organic content, influential associations and other clever tactics, cannabis entrepreneurs can shape a unique and lasting presence on Instagram.

Why Instagram?

Instagram has rooted in stories told visually, and stories often elicit an emotional response from their listeners. On Instagram, a visual narrative will capture the hearts of its users, not just their minds. In addition, the studies reveal that content enhanced with images gains almost one hundred percent more views than content based on text alone. Neil Patel, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the most influential on the web, points out that more than half of the population learns visually, and almost ninety percent of the information that reaches the brain comes in the form of images. The images, therefore, are one of the best ways to characterize your brand, impart an emotional impact, differentiate your business from the competition and boost traffic to your site.

Instagram's unique platform also allows ordinary people to become influential: modern ambassadors of their brand. Gathering the help of influential people means that you are not the only one promoting what your company's offers: Instagram users with a large followers base are doing that work for you, publishing your brand to your fans all over the world.

Best of all, Instagram seems to cultivate creativity that is contagious. Whether you're exploring the competition or simply looking for new trends in your industry, Instagram is usually the best place to get information, advice, and inspiration. In addition to simply creating a space for your own brand on Instagram, it's worth asking questions every time you browse: What do other brands do to attract customers, promote their services and tell a unique story? How can I use these strategies to strengthen my own online position?

The Nitty-Gritty: Rules and regulations

Cannabis entrepreneurs have lamented the lack of clarity of Instagram with respect to cannabis-based content. Instagram simply tells users that "buying or selling [...] illegal or prescription drugs (even if it's legal in your region) is also not allowed." Users are reminded that "they must always comply with the law when they offer to sell or buy other regulated products". - But the guidelines surrounding the promotion of cannabis end there.

Technically, users are allowed to publish content related to marijuana and even advocate the use of marijuana, but they are not allowed to promote the sale of cannabis itself. Instagram representative Alex Kucharski said that "we try to enforce our policies as consistently as possible," but added that "our team processes millions of reports every week and, sometimes, we're wrong." Ambiguous regulations frustrate cannabis legalization activists, dispensary owners, and regular users, who often feel that their brand is at the mercy of a nameless and faceless censor.

How to do it well?

The smartest way to approach Instagram as a cannabis entrepreneur is to adopt the cannabis lifestyle, not just the product itself. Successful cannabis Instagram accounts find creative ways to bypass the guidelines, including stuffing their feeds with comedic memes, flashy images and even images of luxury brands enhanced by touches related to cannabis. Ideally, your diet should be composed of very few cannabis publications, if any. Consider this: @weedhumor, one of Instagram's most popular cannabis accounts, shares content related to cannabis all the time, but the explicit cannabis publications represent less than one percent of its total content

Make friends with an influential person.

Influencer marketing has gained increasing attention over the years, as influencers can expand the reach of a brand in hundreds of thousands of viewers. Influential people are people who have gained the fascination of thousands, if not millions, of followers, and now they are using their presence to promote other brands. Modern organic marketing starts with the influencer, which can present its brand to new audiences that are already willing to appreciate it.

The role of the influencers is multilayered, explains James Lange, a researcher on drug use at San Diego State University. "[The influential ones] seem to be getting free products from various stores," says Lange, "and doing reviews and gifts."

Influencers are not above the law, since the publication of content that could encourage the use of drugs is against most of the terms of service of social media sites.

Inconsistent regulation means that many users remain in the dark about what is allowed and what is against the rules, but for most cannabis entrepreneurs, influencers remain a marketing force to be reckoned with. With the help of the right influencer, you can increase the presence of your brand, amplify your tracking and differentiate your brand from the competition.

Final thoughts.

Social media poses challenges to cannabis entrepreneurs looking to make a splash, but creative strategies can help marketers avoid problems with the law. Marketing strategies gained, such as recruiting the right influencer, and organic strategies, such as publishing content that celebrates a lifestyle, not a product, can help you stand out on Instagram without negative consequences. As the legalization of cannabis expands to include more and more US states. and also more countries around the world, we are forced to see a change in regulatory policies and marketing tactics. In the meantime, do not overlook the power of Instagram to expand and improve your brand, just do your best to make sure it complies with the rules.

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