The majority of traditional marketing methods either don’t exist or are way too expensive for cannabis businesses in this day and age. This is why, as you may have already noticed, that the majority of cannabis businesses have turned to the power of social media as a way to meet and engage with customers and reach a larger target audience. A big percentage of these businesses have also realized that just BEING on social media isn’t nearly enough to make a tangible difference in your efforts. You have to get a solid plan together before you can see any ROI from social media. You also have to keep a close, watchful eye on how you are representing your brand, making sure that you are representing yourself well and following the rules of each social media platform. Here are 5 of the most relevant tips for making the most out of your cannabis brand’s social media presence
1. Set SMART goals.
When you start assembling a puzzle, you always have the big picture (or the end goal) in mind. The same is true with social media! The very first thing you need to do if you want to put together a useful social media strategy is to establish your goal. Figure out what you want to accomplish with social media by setting a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-related (SMART). You can get started by answering these questions:
– What exactly are you trying to accomplish with social media? (trying to increase brand awareness, increase brand loyalty, drive your sales, improve your customer service, etc?)
– Are you able to MEASURE whether or not you are actually accomplishing anything with social media?
– What are your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how will they determine your success or failure? (KPIs will vary from channel to channel. For example, video views are an important KPI on youtube, but Retweets are more important on Twitter)
By constantly tracking your efforts on social media and analyzing your data, you will be able to make better, more informed adjustments to your strategy or plan as a whole, instead of relying on guesswork month after month.
2. Lay the foundation.
Once you have determined your goals and how you will measure your success or failure, you need to get ready to get started by laying a solid foundation for your brand on social platforms. Here are a few easy steps for laying a reliable foundation for your social media strategy:
– Pick the social platforms that make the most sense for your business. Every business in the cannabis industry can benefit from a Facebook page since Facebook has the largest social audience. Google+ is also a good choice to use to share keyword-rich, search engine optimized content and updates. You can also utilize mediums like Instagram or YouTube if you have more visual products. You can even use cannabis-centric social media platforms like Duby, MassRoots, or forum sites.
– Claim your business on places like Yelp, Google Places, Yellow Pages, etc. You should work hard to add up-to-date and relevant information to your profiles and complete business information, like your address, email, and phone number. Get in contact with Twitter or Facebook to get page verification badges, which help consumers to trust brands they don’t know much about yet.
– Brand your profiles with your logo. Your page’s profile picture should be set to your logo. Your cover photo should be used to express the goals of your business or act as a handshake by showing off your brand’s attitude!
– Claim custom URL’s that include your business name to ensure there is no confusion. Make sure to include URLs with your city’s name if you are a business with one location or service area.
– Sign an agreement with anyone who will have access to company social media platforms. It’s very important that everyone in the company who will be allowed to access and use the company’s social media accounts is made aware of clearly documented social media rules and posting guidelines. Employees should sign this agreement to cover your business if they post something in poor taste. It also helps to ensure that all of your posts are written in the same style with the same trusted voice your prospects and customers have come to know and trust.
3. Find your voice.
Everything you share to social media should serve a purpose. Just because you CAN say whatever you want whenever you want doesn’t mean you should. All of your posts should be shared to inform, entertain, or provide utility to your audience. Before posting anything, ask yourself if YOU would find this content useful as a consumer.
You should also keep in mind that all of your content needs to provide utility to your target audience. You can have a very entertaining or informative article, but if it isn’t entertaining or informative to YOUR target audience, it won’t serve any purpose. Consider what kind of content your audience finds entertaining, informative or useful. Here are a few tips:
– Figure our your competition. What are your competitors doing? What do you like about their social media campaigns? What don’t you like? Is there a way for you to use social media to stand out?
– Be different. Almost all cannabis brands offer the same thing right now: excellent quality for a low price. The successful brands are doing it differently: Getting involved with the community, educating people, and showing the world their swagger.
– Choose how often you will update social media. There is no simple answer for how much or little you should be posting. Keep in mind that each channel will be different. For example, you need to post to twitter multiple times a day to stay relevant, but you only have to post to youtube once a week. Your frequency should fluctuate at the beginning, and as you measure your KPIs you will find what works best for your brand.
– Test, and analyze. There is no cut and dry right or wrong for any social media plan. You have to determine what works best for you, and to do that you must test and study your analytics.
– Your page likes are not equal to your brand’s worth.
It’s better to have a small, engaged following than a large, unengaged following. We cannot stress this enough.
Don’t create any social campaigns that push your following to buy when they’re not ready to do so. When you do social media correctly. You’ll have an open medium to connect with your followers and engage with them. Don’t worry too much about your numbers. Make sure your connections are meaningful.
Businesses on social media often forget about the importance of actually being social. It’s important to engage with your audience as often as they engage with you. When the audience engages with you, you should engage with it. You should be responding to all comments and reviews, regardless of whether or not they are positive. I’m not saying that you need to respond to every little comment, but if they are asking you a direct question about your business, link to a certain page, or just want to let you know they enjoy your page, you have the opportunity to have a personal and meaningful conversation with your customers or potential customers.
It won’t always be great, though. Customers talk online and they all have their own experience with you and opinions about you, which is why monitoring conversations online about your company is so important. Just be sure your engagement with them is appropriate, too. You won’t always get private emails or messages from your clients to tell you how you’re doing. In fact, most of the time, people would rather leave you a public review on social media.
You should find a way into any conversations early, often, and carefully. The goal is to show your audience that you are always watching and always listening and that you are engaged and take their feedback seriously. You should respond to these conversations publicly, too, so that other people can see your responsiveness and that you have made an effort to correct whatever negative thing a customer complains about. Here are some additional tips for being engaged in social media:
– Create a set of rules and processes for your team to respond to positive or negative comments, messages, and tags in a positive way.
– It’s silly to try to make everyone happy all the time, but in a lot of ways, your audience will help you to improve with their feedback.
– Think of it like a party: Nobody wants to talk to the person who only talks about themselves and doesn’t listen to or respond to anything anyone else says. Be engaging!
5. Hitting a larger reach
Social media platforms wouldn’t be fun for people if their algorithms prioritized business generated content instead of user content. These platforms would be riddled with constant advertisements and uninteresting jargon and people wouldn’t even use them. All of the top social sites prioritize people over businesses. Essentially, this means that it can be very difficult for all of your page followers to see your posts, even if they’re online the second your publish your post. Here are a couple of ways to reach more people:
– Use visuals. Photos, videos, and infographics stand out much better in newsfeeds. You can even turn your text or quotes into images in some cases if you want to get your point across and seen.
– Use hashtags. Hashtags were created by people to index information they found relevant on Instagram and Twitter. If you want your posts to be found, you should be using relevant hashtags and trending hashtags when applicable.
– Use keywords. On Google+, Facebook, and Youtube, it’s important to use keywords and phrases so your post can appear in search results within the platform, and a google search. Some Facebook pages are so full of keywords that the facebook page of certain businesses will appear in search results before their own websites!
– Utilize paid ads every once in a while. The top social platforms (and Google itself!) are all tweaking their algorithms so that businesses are required to pay to advertise. However, a little money can go a long way on Facebook or Instagram. It’s a good idea to utilize paid ads if you want to stay at the top of your page and on top of your audience’s newsfeeds for the duration of the ad. Just don’t spend too much too soon. You should only use ads for special occasions, and only if they don’t include cannabis in any way since these platforms will not boost posts that are cannabis centric.
So that’s it! 5 solid tips (and a few sub-tips!) for developing a winning social media strategy for your cannabis business. If social media still seems like it could be too much for you or your team, Team MaryJane is always just a call away.