Social media is a pillar of the marketing mix for businesses wishing to cultivate customer relationships. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and now TikTok have become staples on our smartphones and in our marketing plans.
From humanizing your brand to fostering community, social media has undeniable power for businesses and individuals alike. The landscape of online communities has shifted enormously in the past few years, and elements like in-app shopping, brand engagement, and community-building have become increasingly prominent.
Although cannabis and CBD brands face a labyrinth of restrictions surrounding paid advertising on the platforms, social media remains central to a good marketing strategy. Here are four ways your brand can dominate without running a single ad.
Engage with your audience
Social media is all about authentically connecting with other users. In other words, be social! Spend time interacting with your followers, the accounts you follow, your competitors, fellow thought leaders, influencers, and others.
For instance, as a cannabis marketing agency, we recommend our clients engage daily on Instagram by:
- Reading and promptly responding to direct messages.
- Replying to any new comments under your posts.
- Monitoring mentions and tags.
- Liking and commenting on at least ten posts on your feed.
- Liking and commenting on at least ten posts under your followed hashtags.
- Liking and commenting on at least ten posts from potential customers and/or business partners.
- Engaging with five to fifteen Instagram Stories (reacting, replying, answering polls or questions, etc.).
Many businesses and brands forget social media’s main purpose is not to sell but to nurture an audience and build a community. Doing so requires a careful blend of engagement and content creation. Although it can seem tedious, the benefits are worth the effort. Each platform’s algorithm will reward your original content performance for high engagement, and followers will prefer your brand over your competitors because of the relationships you’ve spent time building on social media.
Brands that provide value to their community will see exponential growth. To do this, you need to build trust and establish authority in the online world.
You can accomplish that goal by posting consistently and creating a variety of content to make your audience feel connected to you: educational carousels, entertaining videos, memes, infographics, thought leadership, polls, and more.
Communicating your message in an array of media formats will make a greater impact on your audience, providing your business with the engagement and buzz you seek.
Use keywords and hashtags
Similar to search engines, social media platforms often have a unique algorithm behind their search features. As such, approach your content the same way you might approach a blog post.
Identify keywords and use them in your captions to help users find exactly what they are looking for. This could be through the plain-text caption, but it also could be via hashtags or even alt text on images.
These optimization techniques can attract potential customers who already are looking for you (or for related content) without even knowing it.
Make use of influencers
With traditional paid advertising efforts out of the picture, your brand must get creative when it comes to social media marketing. If the golden key is to build a community around your brand, influencer marketing is one of the best ways to get there.
Influencers are paid content creators who become brand ambassadors, meaning they promote a product or brand without working directly for or representing the brand or company. Influencer marketing lets brands promote their products without getting tangled up in the mess of marketing legalities. In fact, a growing number of consumers rely on their favorite influencers to guide their purchase decisions.
When you find an influencer who genuinely likes your product and uses it regularly, you can create a mutually beneficial relationship with them. This might include:
- Ongoing campaigns.
- Brand and product photoshoots featuring the influencer.
- Exclusive promotion codes for the influencer’s community.
- Limited-release or special-edition partner products or bundles.
When it comes to establishing a successful brand presence, authenticity is key. Once you let go of the misconception that social media is for sales, it becomes a lot easier to make your mark and build your community.
If you engage with your audience, provide consistent value, and harness the reach of online influencers, you will find growing your brand through social media is easier — and more fun — than you may imagine.
Dan Serard oversees business development and strategic partnerships for marketing agency Cannabis Creative Group. With more than four years of experience in the industry, he is active in associations including the Cannabis Marketing Association, Rolling Stone Culture Council, and National Association of Cannabis Businesses. He serves on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee and co-chairs the Content and Education Committee.