UPDATE December 2021:
Please See Our Updated Article on How To Advertise CBD on Facebook & Instagram.
If you’d rather use a dispensary SEO strategy and not deal with any advertising restrictions, check out our updated article for 2022 on the 12 Best Dispensary SEO Tips For Cannabis Retail & Mail-Order Marijuana.
Or, check out this new article for 2022: 7 Essential Steps In Building A Winning Canna Marketing & SEO Strategy.
Can Dispensaries Advertise on Facebook or Google?
So you’re wondering if dispensaries can advertise on Facebook or social media in general, right? The good news is yes they can, but it’s a huge challenge and a major headache.
Although cannabis is legal in Canada, many of the United States, and many countries around the globe, leading digital media channels like Google and Facebook still have strict regulations on cannabis advertising.
Using Facebook and Instagram for cannabis retail stores is an ideal digital strategy for your dispensary marketing plan.
Many cannabis companies have been using influencer marketing tactics to promote their CBD, edibles, marijuana strains and other products. Other cannabis marketing strategies include partnering to publish branded content.
Branded content can still be shared to Facebook and other social media because the content is editorial and not strictly promotional.
This article aims to help cannabis business owners understand how to market and promote your dispensary on Facebook. With and without Facebook advertising.
We like the answer YES! when we hear: “can dispensaries advertise on facebook?”.
So read on to learn more about how we were able to advertise medical cannabis on Facebook and how we can do the same for your MMJ dispensary or recreational cannabis brand.
Or…If you’re already fed up with Facebook and Instagram and want to try to advertise your dispensary on Google, please check out how we were able to increase sales by 30% in 30-days for a local business with our Google Ads marketing strategy.
Remember, when someone wants to buy cannabis or CBD products, they do not go to Facebook. They go straight to Google (or Bing) and search for the product they want to buy when they have the intent to purchase. We highly recommend that you consider using Google search advertising for weed, CBD, and other cannabis products.
Yes, You Can Advertise Cannabis on Facebook!
So to answer the question: can dispensaries advertise on Facebook, we’ll start with an example of how we, ColaDigital.ca, were able to advertise medical cannabis on Facebook.
In 2017 and 2018, we ran several FB advertising campaigns promoting the growing of medical marijuana in greenhouses to MMJ growers in Canada. This was done for our client the Canadian Greenhouse Conference.
This conference wanted to grow. They typically targeted fruit, vegetable, and flower growers only.
In 2017, they wanted to grow the conference by targeting medical marijuana growers who were interested in growing cannabis in greenhouses.
Our Facebook campaigns successfully targeted marijuana growers, aged 34-55, across Canada for 2-months, and we were able to increase the show’s attendance by 25%!
Like many other social media managers who have tried to advertise dispensaries on Facebook, we know that it comes down to the language and the media used in the Facebook Ad.
Third Factor Identified For Cannabis Ad Approvals
We also identified a third factor in getting cannabis Facebook Ads approved on Facebook. We believe that the language used on the website or landing page that the Facebook ad is linked to also affects your dispensary’s ad approval.
One of the reasons we believe we were able to run ads promoting medical cannabis on Facebook in 2017, and on Facebook, Google, and YouTube in 2018, is because the website continued no words or references to any schedule 1 drugs.
To be clear, our advertising creative did contain the words “medical cannabis” in the ad copy and our media did include images of cannabis buds.
To read more about the campaign and how we were able to execute it successfully, please see the case study. It’s also available as a pdf download.
Can We Advertise Your Dispensary on Facebook or Google?
UPDATE December 2021: Please See Our Updated Article on How To Advertise CBD on Facebook & Instagram.
Saying we were thrilled to get our medical cannabis related advertising campaigns approved on Facebook is an understatement. The best news was that it wasn’t a fluke! In 2018, we were able to do run campaigns for 4-months on Facebook, Google, and YouTube!
If you’re following along carefully, you realize that we also added Google Advertising and YouTube Pre-roll ads to their marketing mix for the 2018 campaign.
You might be wondering can we do the same for you even though your website contains language and media relating to cannabis.
I can tell you this – there are ways, using Dispensary SEO tactics, especially due to the third factor we mentioned above.
Our cannabis marketing team are certified Google search marketing professionals. We can implement SEO tactics on your website, metadata and on-page copy, that *may* be able to get your cannabis ads approved.
It really depends on the nature of your company, your social advertising goals, your website’s SEO “friendliness”, and your product categories.
There are many other ways to manage your dispensary’s social media presence without paid advertising and we’ll review a few key social media tips for dispensaries in the next section below.
Why Social Media Marketing For Dispensaries is Important
One of the most effective marketing tactics for any local business is to use social media to interact directly with consumers.
You can build awareness of your cannabis retail store, convert your followers into customers, and connect with new potential customers with a strategic social media plan.
How Important is Social Media to Local Businesses?
Let’s put it this way. A recent study on social media marketing revealed that an overwhelming majority of 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business.
82% of participants in this survey worked in businesses with less than 100 employees.
To be successful with organic/non-paid social media marketing for cannabis stores is that you have to be consistent, relevant, and engaging. You can’t always be about your brand or your product.
3 Tips To Market Your Dispensary On Social Media Without Advertising
The old school sales rule of “ABC: Always Be Closing”, made famous in the film Glengarry Glen Ross doesn’t apply when it comes to social media marketing for dispensaries.
While you can try to advertise your dispensary on Facebook and be successful, you’ll also need to add a media budget into your marketing budget for Facebook & Instagram advertising.
Using social media organically allows you to get past the strict cannabis social media regulations on advertising and save your Facebook media spend.
If you don’t have an effective social media management plan for your cannabis retail store, keep reading.
Here are 3 tips on how to market your dispensary on Facebook and grow your following on Instagram without advertising.
1. Think of Instagram Hashtags Like Keywords For SEO
Any experienced cannabis social media marketer knows that if you include the right hashtags in your post you’re most likely going to see much more reach, impressions, and engagement than if you used generic hashtags.
The whole point of using hashtags on Instagram posts is to get your content seen by the right people at the right time and on the right platform.
If you’re going to use hashtags in your cannabis social media marketing strategy, please use them strategically not randomly.
Here are a few strategic tips on how to optimize your hashtags when marketing your dispensary on Instagram:
Hashtag Tip 1. Use the right number of hashtags:
- Instagram allows for a total of 30 hashtags.
- I’d suggest using all 30.
- Keep them relevant and ensure you change them up for each post.
- Never ever repeat the same hashtags and or cut and paste in hashtags from previous posts.
Hashtag Tip 2. Hide your hashtags:
- The idea here is to optimize your content/caption.
- Don’t clutter up your post caption by having what killer social media copy mixed in with promotional hashtags.
- Instead, post your content and then immediately return to the live post in your feed and leave a comment with 30 popular hashtags.
- If you insist on having your hashtags in your caption and not in the comments, you can bury your hashtags in the caption and still keep it clean.
Hashtag Tip 3. Don’t use irrelevant hashtags:
- Sourcing popular hashtags that are irrelevant to your business and products is totally spammy behavior.
- I guarantee this approach will annoy people who follow those hashtags.
- These people will likely tell Instagram to “Don’t Show for this Hashtag”, leaving your post with negative feedback on relevancy.
As we mentioned above, it’s best for cannabis stores to use hashtags strategically. If you give your target audience high-quality content that speaks to their interests and answers their questions, you will see an increase in your social media engagement and following.
2. Post Branded & Relevant Content to Increase Traffic and Boost SEO
Yea, it’s true. You can help the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website by using social media strategically.
Popular search engine’s like Google and Bing have super-algorithms that help them identify which web pages are consistently earning traffic, from which sources. These same algorithms also let them know which web pages are just “out there”, potentially forgotten and often ignored.
Cannabis business owners should understand that an optimized content strategy is one of the most important factors in your cannabis SEO strategy but, driving qualified traffic to your website’s optimized pages will positively affect your search engine rankings.
Simple things like re-sharing/re-purposing content that has performed well previously on social media is a good tactic to drive potential new cannabis customers to your website. We typically suggest repurposing each post once a month or creating new content pieces.
For example, if you published a blog article on the differences between Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains that received some decent engagement on social media and also generated many clicks to your website, you could repurpose that blog content into a video.
You’d then be able to take proven content to other mediums in the form of a video. You likely didn’t share your blog article in Instagram but now with a video or a series of videos, you could share that website blog content on Instagram where users can consume the content without having to leave the platform.
3. Use Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Help With Customer Service & Drive Retail Traffic
Do you still care whether or not you can advertise dispensaries on Facebook? I’m hoping you can see that there are a few options to promote cannabis products other than social media advertising.
I’m sure you’ve realized this already, either with your cannabis-related business or maybe even in your personal life. Social media is key to customer service today.
Customers expect a quick response time, period. These days, that response is usually expected quickly on social media platforms than anywhere else.
If there’s a problem with your weed or if someone can’t figure out how to use your vape pen, or maybe someone doesn’t know how much of an edible to eat, your customers expect you to provide answers asap.
If your cannabis retail store can handle customer service via Facebook Messenger chatbots or some other form of automation, you can establish a huge competitive edge in your local business area.
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be super responsive and have the answers to their questions ready. This is why we recommend using a Facebook Messenger chatbot for your dispensary.
For example, a study from Sprout Social identified that customers want responses from brands on social media within four hours, yet the average response time is 10 hours.
We all know that customer service can be a major drag with some local businesses, but think of it this way. This isn’t just a huge pain in the ass for customers, it also directly affects your profits.
Here’s some evidence of this. A Twitter study showed that customers are willing to pay almost $20 more for future tickets when airlines respond to their tweets within 6 minutes.
I think that it’s a well-known fact that companies that respond well, in a timely fashion, to customer inquiries, feedback, or complaints, will be rewarded with good PR potentially resulting in increased sales.
Start Your Cannabis Advertising on Facebook Today
So the short answer is that yes, you can advertise cannabis on Facebook, YouTube and Google Search PPC. But there are also a few other social media tactics that cannabis stores can implement in their social marketing strategy.
Our case study, How To Advertise Medical Marijuana on Facebook, is available for a quick read or download by following the link.
If your cannabis company needs strategic digital marketing help, we’re available for consultations and managed services.
As a final thought, due to the restrictive nature of Facebook & Instagram with cannabis advertising, we’d highly recommend you consider using Google search advertising as an alternative to Facebook advertising for cannabis products:
Please contact us today to discuss how we can help you grow your canna-business.
UPDATE December 2021: Please See Our Updated Article on How To Advertise CBD on Facebook & Instagram.