By Cait Curley
How can a consumer products company specializing in CBD and other industrial hemp-derived products market its brand in a cloudy regulatory and advertising environment – despite the fact that hemp is now legal under the 2018 Farm Bill?
One way has been to get others to talk about your brand in publications, blogs and social media. When Facebook and Google won’t let hemp and CBD brands advertise, many companies are turning to public relations and influencer marketing. It’s a new twist on word of mouth in a digital age, yet it still works.
A huge piece of the cannabis movement’s story has been built on social media. It gives the community, like any other industry, a sense of connection and like mindedness. It’s a platform to learn, create connections and promote your brand. I don’t know a “top brand” that doesn’t have social media. It doesn’t mean it’s an A+ social media platform, but at least they have one.
Here are some basic but essential tips for hemp/cannabis companies to keep in mind when pursuing social media and influencer marketing and communications strategies:
First Things First: Even if it’s a simple landing page, make sure you have a website with contact info and your social media links included. Include an email signup form so visitors can sign up for newsletters. Creating and populating a blog page on your website is also recommended, as it provides original content for you to share and potentially boost across social media platforms.
What Social Media Should I Be On?: A brand should create an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn, to start. When creating a handle, use your company’s name, and if it’s not available, make it as close as possible.
Don’t Skip: You may spend more time on one over the other, but it’s a mistake to skip a social media platform based on where you “think” your audience is. Especially in the cannabis/hemp industry. Focus on quality content over quantity.
Stay Active and Engaged: You don’t need to be a social media expert or even tech savvy, but you do need to go in at least once a week for an hour to post and engage with the community. I say once a week, because I understand that many companies, especially startups, have one person wearing many, if not all hats within the business. Many brand owners (farmers, for example) may be new to social media with no idea how to manage/post/engage on their feed. With that, you can find at least an hour a week to learn the platforms, post and engage. My ultimate recommendation would be at least an hour a day. It’s not as difficult as you may think. Once you begin doing it, you’ll find a flow and recognize the importance to carve out time to engage with your followers.
Organize Your Social Media Profile: Synchronize all of the profile and cover photos. Make sure at least one email contact is available. Be short and simple with your mission, what your product is, and where to buy it.
Take Advantage of Hashtags: Include your company’s hashtag in every post possible. Using tags related to your product like #fullspectrumhemp or #hempfarmers for a hemp oil brand (for example) is very helpful, too.
Check Out What Others Are Doing, But Be YOU: Research the competition, find inspiration and be genuine. Tell YOUR story, be you/unique, not your competition.
Relationships Count: Build relationships vs. asking for a sale. That’s what builds loyalty and trust over time.
Know Your Audience: What do they want to learn? Keep track of what posts have been most successful, e.g., the most likes, comments or shares.
A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words: Make use of captivating visuals, including original photography, licensed photography, and photos and graphics used with permission. If possible, high quality video about your brand, mission, activities, events or lifestyles and related interests, short and sweet, are sure to generate attention and shares.
Educate But Avoid Health Claims: Educate on a simple level to the public while avoiding health claims about products. To learn more about what you can and can’t say under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, visit here.
E-Newsletters and Blogs: Make sure you have an email signup form on your website to collect emails of customers and constituents. Before you know it, you’ll have a growing email contact list to whom you can send e-newsletters and other email announcements and promotions. Blogs provide original content that can be shared as articles in your newsletters and as social media posts, which can help bring readers back to your website.
Build Brand Awareness: Social media is growing so rapidly. Having multiple influencers out there (even if micro with 1K followers), allows your brand to have multiple tentacles, reminding or introducing people to your brand.
Influencer Advantages: Even after the legalization of hemp, so many cannabis/hemp companies still are not able to advertise on social media. Tree Free Hemp for example, a hemp paper and printing company, has been flagged for years because it attempted to boost a hemp paper poster – it turns out that poster was the Declaration of Independence; oh the irony! For this reason, influencers and other creative forms of marketing are needed for hemp/cannabis than for any other industry. Consumers trust information and product recommendations from influencers. They feel it’s an honest opinion from someone that knows what they’re talking about. They’re a trusted voice.
Influencers help increase SEO by building and creating unique content. They drive traffic, convert leads and open brands to new markets and networks. Most influencers, if treated and paid correctly, will be loyal to your company for life. They will continue to promote and recommend your brand.
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Cait Curley is an educator, entrepreneur, social media influencer, marketing and communications specialist, and content creator with a passion for all things hemp and cannabis. Visit www.caitcurley.com, @caitcurley on Facebook, and @caitcurley_ on Instagram and Twitter
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