Facebook and Instagram prohibit marijuana brands from advertising on their platforms, and cannabis companies also cannot utilize the paid boost feature available on these platforms – likely due to the illegality of cannabis on a federal level. Google also refuses to allow the promotion of cannabis products through its marketing offerings.
Influencer marketing is the utilization of people/platforms to drive a brand’s message to its demographic. Any person, website, or social media page that can influence an audience can be considered an influencer.
Social media influencers have been able to establish organic, sometimes massive followings in specific market segments. Cannabis content creators can actively promote weed brands to their followings without worrying about the restrictions of paid marketing tools offered by Facebook and Google.
TYPES OF INFLUENCERS
Niched: typically dedicated to a specific subject or market, like cannabis, makeup, sports, etc.
Celebrity: traditional celebrity types, like athletes, musicians, entertainers, etc.
Social: acquired their fame via social media platforms
Micro: those who have a small amount of influence but who are useful for businesses hoping to influence many niches at once
Localized: influencers who focus their content within an area local to them.
Influencers can specialize in more than one of the above categories, social-niched or localized-micro influencers, for example.
FINDING AN INFLUENCER
Consider Current Fans
Keep an eye on people who may already be promoting your brand for you. You may have followers of your own with decent followings who would love nothing more than to work with you and further spread the word about your business as brand advocates.
Work with a person you already know your audience trusts. You can leverage that influence to help promote your business.
Evaluate the social media posts created by the influencers you are considering. Do they consistently put out high-quality content? Would they make a good spokesperson, and would you feel proud to have this person represent your brand?
It may be tempting, but it’s important not to merely go after the influencers with the largest audience you can find. Follower count should definitely be considered, but not the only aspect, when vetting the influencers you want to work with.
Consider the influencer's engagement percentile. Different accounts receive different amounts of interaction with their content, which can make influencers with 100K followers just as successful in promoting your business as those with 1 million followers. The more comments and shares of an influencer’s social media posts the more engaged their followings.
The value you are pursuing from influencers doesn’t have much to do with their follower count, but rather their ability to capture the attention of their audience regardless of its size. This is a quality over quantity situation.
Make sure you are following influencers and other cannabis companies on social media. Find a little time per day to peruse your social media from your consumer’s mindset. This will allow you to understand the user experience and to identify successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies.
Working with an agency that specializes in influencer marketing is beneficial when searching for the right influencer to assist with your marketing strategy.
Create a Connection
How did you discover the influencer you’d like to work with? Maybe you were already a fan of them for a while? Perhaps their YouTube channel is a favorite among coworkers? If you inform them right away that you are already a fan of their content, that could keep their attention. Make sure you also communicate a clear picture of how their work relates to the goals of your brand.
The most successful influencers know they must provide valuable content to their followers that is on-message with their personal brand. If your brand’s message is not like theirs, or if there is no actual motivation to talk about your brand, chances are they’re not going to want to work with you. Also consider you are most likely not the only company attempting to enlist this influencer as a brand advocate.
Utilize Search Engines & Tools
Don’t underestimate the power of Google, as a quick search of “cannabis influencer” should at least provide a starting point. There are also influencer marketing tools like BuzzSumo that can tell you who the top influencers are.
YouTube has their own influencer marketing platform – Famebit – where you can find influencers to work with.
Transparency is Key
It is important that influencers helping to market your brand on their social media remain open and honest about promotions. When influencer marketing first began, not all brands were as open as they should have been regarding their partnerships with social media celebrities. Influencers were creating and posting content for brands without divulging they had been paid for it. The FTC stopped this in 2017 when they created guidelines around what brands and influencers must do when creating sponsored content.
Ensure every piece of paid content is disclosed. If you and an influencer agree to create five posts within one month, make sure they are disclosing you are working together in each post, not just the first of the five – regardless of how obvious it may be that it is an ad.
This can be accomplished with a simple inclusion of “#ad” or “#sponsored” somewhere within the post. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, just clear that you have participated in a partnership with the influencer.
Just because you request the influencer clearly mark the post/s as “#sponsored,” don’t just assume they’ll do it. Ensure you’re reviewing the content you are paying for and that it meets all the required guidelines.
Engage With Content Instead of Ads
Ensure the influencer marketing campaigns you create look as little like a generic ad as possible, and more like content marketing.
With the current competition to stand out on social media platforms like Instagram, it is essential to create videos, large-scale campaigns, and original content that is more than just blatantly trying to get people to purchase your products.
The best content is capable of entertaining, educating, or invoking some level of emotion. Consider what you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing – what story do you hope to convey? How can you communicate it creatively? What benefit/s does this influencer-collaborated content provide the audience you hope to reach?
Track Your Results
As with any other, it is important that this type of marketing effort generates profitable results, so be sure to track your influencer marketing campaigns.
One way to do this is to provide the influencers with unique promotional codes to share with their followings. Every time a customer makes a purchase using the code, you can directly correlate that revenue to the respective influencer.
If your campaign is more to drive awareness, create a branded hashtag to measure how much attention influencers are driving to your business.