Cannabis And Social Media Compliance
I’m a firm believer that anyone can build and run a great social media campaign, with a little guidance and help – where I come in – even with little time. I am not a fan of the traditional ‘social media manager role as a 3rd party.’ There is an exception – those whose brands are part of the new, growing, cannabis industry, because of one word “compliance“.
The industry as a whole has more challenges in the form of opponents, federal laws and state regulations alone than any other I know. After learning about some of the regulations here in Washington, where both medicinal and recreation (502) use is allowed, it’s amazing any of these shops survive. The time and effort necessary to maintain compliance is staggering. They do an amazing job in staying compliant except in one area – social media.
Compliance & Marketing Limitations
The marketing limitations further make it difficult to generate any good brand exposure for local businesses. Radio and TV are generally out (FCC), vehicle graphics are generally out (you could drive too close to a school), traditional print is tough as most magazine and paper owners do not want to risk alienating what is left of a readership base or advertisers and sponsorships of mainstream events, even in the Pacific NW where it’s generally accepted, isn’t too likely. That leaves marketing industry-specific trade publications. Not great if you’re trying to reach outside that core market segment.
The challenge – aside from knowing how to properly use social media and the universal issue of what content to post, social media for the cannabis industry comes with its own set of compliance rules. Fail to heed them and you take the best form of marketing at your disposal and throw it out the window. I’ll be very clear here – this is one of the few times I recommend hiring a professional, outside firm to manage your social media.
You’ll hire an outside expert to help you protect your license and manage your compliance so why wouldn’t you do the same on social media? Even if you know how to effectively use social media (and most small business owners do not), the adding complexity of compliance and the extra time to manage it, is a recipe for disaster. Failing to maintain compliance, at a minimum, will get your profiles removed and at could ultimately get you banned. Even losing your profile or page is serious. You’ll lose your following, your content, your custom URL and your credibility.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. With the latest rounds of Facebook pages being shut down, some for unknown reasons, failure is a very real possibility.
Courtesy of Amy Donohue (I have been a fan of Amy for some time. She has a ‘tell it like it is’ attitude and I find it refreshing when most in this industry shy away from any form of controversy) and Get Hybrid Social, here are just a few things to be aware of when it comes to your social profiles:
- Facebook – Are you posting prices? Have you limited audience visibility?
- Instagram – Are you posting images of plants or paraphernalia? What about consumption? Are you posting images you own?
- Pinterest – does your image depict a ‘how to’?
The Bottom line
Whether you’re in the medical or recreational marijuana segment of the cannabis industry, social media compliance is vital. You need to protect to protect your brand. More is at stake than just your reputation.
What are you doing to maintain compliance? Has your page been removed? Have you experienced any backlash?
And if you’re concerned about your brand, get in touch for a full cannabis compliance audit: