If you’ve ever tried promoting your dispensary or cannabis brand on social media, then TRUST ME… You’re going to want to bookmark this.
We’ve all heard the horror stories that dispensaries and other cannabis companies have experienced on social media, especially when it comes to Facebook and Instagram.
Because paid options are limited for cannabis companies, they know they need to spend more time cultivating organic audiences.
So when Instagram or Facebook take a page down, business can seriously suffer.
Cannabis & Social Media: The Infamous Facebook and Instagram Page Shut Down
Brands build their organic followers up to 20,000. They post ONE wrong image/text/hashtag. What happens next? They get shut down, losing those 20k+ followers in a split second.
No one is perfect… but if you’re a cannabis company promoting your products or services on social media, you better be damn close.
Don’t blame the platform. Blame the unclear guidelines, which are murky at best.
Facebook and Instagram Guidelines for Dispensaries and Cannabis Brands
It’s important to note that because Facebook owns Instagram, they have the same community guidelines for both paid content and organic content. Here they are.
Facebook Paid Content Policies
When it comes to paid content, Facebook and Instagram and state very clear advertising policies.
If an ad is denied or removed, the account owner is notified via email, and is given the opportunity to appeal the removal of the ad.
Facebook Guidelines for Organic Posts
This not the case for organic posts. The only thing you’ll get is a notification when you try to log into your account that says “disabled for violating our terms.” UGH.
Instagram’s Policy on Cannabis (same as Facebook’s):
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.
Notice a major component that they left off that list? Your website.
Avoid Getting Your Cannabis Page Shut Down on Social Media by Driving Followers to Your Website
Displaying your dispensary’s contact information or location on your Facebook or Instagram page clearly violates their policy (see above).
Without listing your location’s contact info on Facebook or Instagram, you can still drive social media followers directly to your website.
Just make sure you have your contact information, newsletter sign-up, daily deals, and all other relevant information prominently displayed.
How to Increase Conversion Rates Once Followers Get to Your Website
Click-to-Call Phone Number & Email
Make sure your phone number and email address have the click-to-call function enabled. Because most social media followers will be on their phones, this will allow customers to call or email you without having to remember and type in your phone number/email address.
Embed Google Map Location
Embed a Google Map with a pin of your location on it on your contact page and/or homepage. The address on your footer or menu should always be clickable.
When a customer clicks the address on your website, it should open up a new window in Google Maps (or whichever maps app they use). This allows customers to locate you easily, without having to re-enter your address into their maps app.
Discussing Buying or Selling Cannabis vs. Posting Images of Cannabis
While Facebook and Instagram’s community guidelines discuss buying and selling cannabis on their platform, they do not cover organic posts containing images or videos of cannabis.
The social networks specify that content that “promotes, encourages, coordinates or provides instructions for use of non-medical drugs [or] admits, either in writing or verbally, to personal use of non-medical drugs unless posted in a recovery context” should not be posted.
Even with those guidelines, it still leaves a lot of room open for interpretation when it comes to cannabis-related content.
While they may seem risky, they absolutely do not include any sales call-to-action or instructions on how to use cannabis.
Posting Marijuana Advocacy Content
In short, marijuana advocacy content is permitted as long as sale of the drug is not promoted. An instagram spokesperson recently referenced the Facebook’s community standards covering regulated goods.
“Our policies do not preclude people from discussing cannabis and its potential benefits or advocating for its legality,” the Instagram spokesperson said.
“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.”
This advocacy post by USCC Expo is a perfect example of a piece of cannabis content that fits within the Facebook and Instagram community guidelines.
They are discussing a new bill in the form of a current event/news announcement. They are clearly not promoting the sale of cannabis.
List of Content that Cannabis Brands Should NOT Post on Facebook/Instagram
According to Facebook and Instagram Guidelines, cannabis brand should absolutely NOT post the following:
- An image that depicts the sale of cannabis.
- Content that promotes the sale of marijuana.
- Guides that provide instructions for use of cannabis.
- Anything that explicitly mentions the sale, trade, or delivery of the product.
- The price of any cannabis product.
- A call-to-action prompting someone to “buy” the product.
- Contact information for customers to buy the product.
List of Content that Cannabis Brands CAN Post on Facebook and Instagram
According to the Facebook and Instagram Community Guidelines, it seems as though cannabis brands can post content that includes:
- Educational content – don’t make any medical claims.
- Advocacy pieces – statistics, quotes, etc.
- Informative content – be sure to not include content about “how to use or sell cannabis”.
- Images of edibles.
- Product shots – no verbiage that implies selling it.
The social media guidelines for what cannabis companies can and can’t post are still a bit murky.
But this doesn’t mean that dispensaries and canna-brands should shy away from these platforms completely.
Cannabis Brands Need More Creative Social Media Marketing Tactics
With all of these unclear guidelines, cannabis brands need to get creative when it comes to social media marketing. When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, this can be a very delicate dance.
As we’ve seen, even if you have the best intentions, one misstep in the verbiage you use, the hashtags you include, the images you post, and your account will be shut down. Just like that.
If you understand the social media guidelines, you can develop creative strategies to get around them.
Bottom line: Understand the guidelines. Get creative with your marketing. Avoid getting your page shut down.