What time of day elicits the most interaction from Facebook users? How can I incorporate brand messaging into the latest TikTok dance trend? Is it poor taste to tag my post with something trending even if my content is completely unrelated?
Questions like these plague many small business owners. Even companies with a social media coordinator are often left guessing how to enhance their engagement.
The issue is even more complicated for cannabis companies. Several platforms, particularly Instagram (IG), have strict rules around cannabis. IG’s terms of service prohibit the promotion and sale of cannabis products.
Content creators have to be meticulous about tags, verbiage, and product marketing. For cannabis entrepreneurs, finding success on social requires innovative thinking, creativity, and consistency. To better understand the dynamic world of social media, Cannabis & Tech Today sat down with two cannabis content creators to discover what works and what to avoid.
Miss Rad Reefer AKA Michelle “Reefer”
Miss Rad Reefer spent 10 years building her Instagram following. Before her most recent ban, her channel had more than 214,000 engaged followers. You can join her journey at MissRadReefer, RadAssMichelle, and RadReeferCompany.
Creating a Brand
You tell the tale of the mountain you climbed and it inspires somebody else to climb their own mountain. That’s how I embraced the little lane that I created.
I’m super particular about who I work with. I think over the last 10 years, the industry has grown to know that. Also my tribe, my following, they know that I’m not going to just talk about things because I’m going to get 10% when they purchase them. It has to make sense and it has to be worth talking about, so [choose] affiliate programs with things that make sense, the innovative companies, the companies who care.
What if Your Page is Banned
Start a backup page, especially if you’re always going to be a business. Create maybe one post a week or every other day on your stories. Make it incentive driven though. If you’re a brand and you are creating content on your main page, nobody really cares if you’re like, ‘Just please follow my backup page.’ But if the backup page also serves as a page where all your guides are regularly dropped or information, then it gives them incentive to follow up with you. People are incentive driven.
How to Foster Engagement
I would suggest knowing your audience with regards to creating because when you create your content, you have to create your content with the person that you’re creating for in mind … Human nature is self-centered.
So when you go to people’s pages, a lot of them are just selfies and things that they’re doing in their life … That’s more vanity and vanity metrics versus creating. You are not going to be able to connect with your audience if you’re just constantly posting about yourself.
On Creating a Following
With social media, you just have to constantly show up. You are always showing up whether you are a hot mess and rolled out of bed and just started talking about your content or not.
So that’s probably another reason why so many people connected with me is because my whole grow career has been an absolute shit show up until the last year or two. So everyone’s seen me get robbed, or the trials and tribulations. I had a dog fucking taken from me in a home invasion and everybody on social media shared his stolen photo. It was crazy. So yeah, I think I just put myself out there and people connect.
The biggest, most profound thing that I think you can do for yourself as a company that is trying to find its spot on the shelf, because there are a billion fucking companies, but only so many spots … It’s absolutely a thousand percent about consistency. You just have to be consistent. It’s not all about the pretty box, it’s what’s inside the box. So really hone in on what matters and know who your audience is and know what your audience wants.
The Hash Sommelier AKA Sarah Jain Bergman
The Hash Sommelier has been sharing content through IG for nearly 10 years. She uses several accounts to connect with her followers, including HashSommelier, SarahJain420, and CannabisCoverGirl.
On Being a Content Creator and Entrepreneur
I’m literally having to create a job and a career for myself from scratch. So it’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of struggles, a lot of trial and error.
Attracting New Followers
People wonder, ‘Why do all the big accounts interact with one another, they all comment on each other’s posts?’ It’s because that’s where I get most of my new followers, most of my new people are interacting with other major accounts that have 100+ followers, 1,000+ followers, or even 50,000+ followers, just writing in their comments, commenting on something. I get more interaction and more followers from that than anything that I did traditionally.
On Paid Advertisements
Nobody wants to see your fucking advertisements, point blank. Nobody gives a shit about what you’re selling. They don’t give a shit about what your friend’s company is selling. That’s a commercial. What do we do through commercials? We skip commercials.
But what do people like nowadays? They like interaction, they like drama, they want to be entertained. Most of all, people come to social media to be entertained … But that’s the nature of the beast, and that’s the sad reality is that people are here for entertainment. So they want things to be kept short, simple, entertaining, to the point, and lighthearted.
I probably turn down about, I’d say, a good 90% of paid influencer offers, maybe even higher than that. And the reason being is just for what I said, I don’t want my page to be a commercial … That’s something you have to look at, is the money that I’m going to make today worth what it’s going to cost me in followers and believability?
What About Other Social Platforms
I’m going to be transitioning more to YouTube. I’m trying to look for platforms that are cannabis-friendly, and YouTube has been a little bit more cannabis-friendly. They went on their little rampage a few years back, but they’re opening up more to things. Another one that surprisingly is the most cannabis-friendly of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn. They look at it as we’re businesses. We are legitimate tax-paying businesses; we should be able to promote our grants and our businesses. And from that, LinkedIn has actually been the most supportive.
Whenever there’s an event, I promote it on my page, they promote me on their page. That’s when I get most of my new followers, my new likes, and most of my content. People interact with the event, people post their pictures from the event. You’re able to repost those pictures, which in turn, those people like, follow you, and engage with you.
Sexy Pics Get Clicks … at a Cost
It’s kind of how I built up [my following], and that’s where I came from. It’s something that’s hurting me now in trying to get my Hash Sommelier business off the ground. Because people look at those bikini pics and all of a sudden, a lot of guys have ulterior motives when trying to work with you. That is very frustrating because you want them to take you seriously.
However, from a marketing standpoint on Instagram, the only thing Instagram promotes on any of my posts is the sexy pictures — the only thing. I believe it’s the only reason I’ve been able to get my account back every single time, to be honest. I feel that there is some tech bro who works in Meta somewhere that’s like, ‘I love these beach shots. We cannot have this go away.’
I’ve noticed a lot of cannabis businesses lately, there’s been a couple of pages that kept getting everything flagged, everything taken down, shadowbanned. So what they started doing was just posting pics of chicks in bikinis, and that got engagement, and that got promoted. So sex sells on Instagram, and sex is more okay than cannabis for whatever reason. But if you’re a woman also trying to be taken seriously in that space, what can help you can also hurt you.
This article first appeared in Volume 4 Issue 3 of Cannabis & Tech Today.