When we first began our journey in dispensary marketing here at Foottraffik, cannabis social media was still relatively young. Many marketers didn’t grasp how game-changing this vital new medium would become, allowing brands to speak more directly to consumers than ever before. Or that it would spawn an entire new industry: The influencer economy.
Where does the cannabis social media landscape stand in mid-2021? Which platforms should your dispensary be devoting its precious time and resources to? In today’s post, we’ll try to answer these questions, as well as providing a look ahead at where the mediasphere is heading.
Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Dispensary Be On? Latest Data
Let’s kickstart the process by examining the latest data on social media usage and trends. Some of our data comes courtesy of the good folks at HubSpot and Talkwalker. The two social media analytics firms teamed up in order to survey the landscape, identify user trends, and survey current social media users. Additional data comes from the respected fact-finders at the Pew Research Center.
In terms of where social media users spend their time, the figures shouldn’t be a real surprise:
- Facebook: With over 2.7 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Facebook continues to lead the pack. Unfortunately, the platform’s ban on cannabis-themed content means that dispensaries need to be extremely cautious about how they present their brands there.
- Instagram: With some 1.2 billion MAUs, the photo-sharing platform—which happens to be owned by Facebook—is a must for those able to leverage the power of compelling imagery. Like Facebook, Instagram bans explicit cannabis-themed content, but there are plenty of opportunities for cannabis brands to share content and expand their reach.
- TikTok: According to Social Media Today, TikTok is the most downloaded app of 2021. The platform currently boasts some 700 million MAUs; while that’s miles behind industry leader Facebook, you can be sure its lightning-fast growth is on Facebook’s radar.
- Snapchat: With 265 million MAUs, Snapchat arguably receives less attention than it should. Though some analysts note that younger audiences are flocking to TikTok, this actually presents an opportunity as B2B content takes its place.
- Twitter: Thus far, Twitter hasn’t been a huge player when it comes to dispensaries sharing their content. But with roughly 200 million MAUs, it’s definitely to early to write the app off completely.
- Clubhouse: This newish audio-only platform is a bit of a unicorn. Though it only claimed 40 million MAUs as of early 2021, interest in the app is red-hot. And while it’s not a traditional “post and share” interface like Instagram or TikTok, Clubhouse does offer some unique upsides to those dispensaries willing to share their knowledge (and score a hard-to-get invite to actually join it).
Where to Spend Your Resources
The list we just shared is far from complete. Along with these better-known platforms, there are dozens of others such as WhatsApp, Twitch, Houseparty, and many more. It underscores a central (and often ignored) truth about cannabis social media marketing: Each platform is different, and to truly succeed, you need to tailor your content for each one based on its format, its audience, and its tone.
But…which ones to focus on? If social media were simply a numbers game, the question of where dispensaries should be allocating their precious resources—the time and energy to create compelling posts—would be an easy one to answer. But needless to say, it’s not that simple.
For one thing, as we pointed out a moment ago, it’s tough for dispensaries to maintain a presence Facebook, the industry leader. But sometimes, positioning yourself where the crowd isn’t can be a winning strategy instead.
Take the example of Snapchat, which comes in 6th in one ranking of social media popularity (but doesn’t even make the top ten in many others). As we’ve reported previously, the perception that it’s an app solely for teens isn’t quite accurate. Digital analysts Omnicore state that some 30% of internet users aged 26 – 35 use Snapchat, which is a fairly whopping percentage of the audience dispensaries typically want to reach.
What’s more, for a couple of years now Snapchat has quietly signaled its openness to cannabis-themed content. Given all these factors, here at Foottraffik we tend to see Snapchat not as a poor fit for dispensaries, but rather an underutilized opportunity.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Instagram. While it’s hardly underappreciated, we’re confident there’s still plenty of room for growth there. With the introduction of Instagram Reels back in 2020, users were invited to partake in what some analysts predict will become the driving force in social media: The rise of remixing.
In the context of social media, “remixing” is taking existing content like images and short videos and incorporating them into a new post. This layering allows users to create context and foster self-expression. And from a marketing standpoint, remixing is poised to change and deepen the ways brands and consumers interact, potentially bringing them closer together. If you can capitalize on this nascent trend by creating sticky, emotionally resonant, and highly sharable content—again, tailored to each platform—it’s a golden opportunity to deepen the relationship with your customers (while creating imagery, memes, and other content they’ll want to share and share again). As quoted in the HubSpot/Talkwalker report we referenced earlier, influencer marketing expert Gordon Glenister had this to say:
“No surprise for many but I think video will dominate social media engagement, we’ve seen the growth in Tiktok and YouTube and now Instagram Reels. The pandemic has proved that with so many of us online we’ve been exposed to creative, entertaining and thought provoking video content and we want more of it.”
Speaking of influencers, we’d be remiss if we didn’t devote some ink to this hugely important subset of the social media world. We’ve reported on the rise of cannabis influencers for some time now, how individuals ranging from informal guides to full-on brand ambassadors wield an outsize influence in the world of dispensary marketing. With the vast majority of consumers predisposed to trust recommendations from friends and family first, it’s a logical development in the realm of peer-to-peer marketing.
You can expect the importance of cannabis influencers to grow in 2021, with the sometimes hard-to-quantify effects of this style of marketing solidifying and delivering solid results to brands. If you want an introduction to into the topic, begin with our Introduction to Cannabis Influencer Marketing.
Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Dispensary Be On? The YouTube Question
In our discussion of the best platforms for your dispensary to leverage, there’s one social media giant we’ve left out: YouTube.
Wait. YouTube is a social media platform? I thought it was a video-sharing site…I mean, a search engine.
We understand your potential confusion, but one thing isn’t in doubt: The site is hugely popular, with some 2 billion logged-in users visiting it each month (not to mention countless more as guests). If you’ve been ignoring this untapped resource, now just might be the time to jump into the video content game.
As we’ve pointed out previously, video is surging in popularity as the price of entry drops. With some sources estimating that by next year, digital video will account for the vast majority of all internet traffic, those businesses that can make the leap from static to video content will be positioned to win big. How big? Hubspot reports that 72% of consumers already prefer to learn about new products or services via video. And as cannabis continues to permeate the mainstream and brands expand their reach, expect cannabis-themed content to make the leap between static and video content.
As always, there’s much more to the question of how cannabis brands can best leverage the power of social media. Keep your eyes on our blog as we scour the latest research to bring you actionable and up-to-date information on this hot topic. And if you want to bring on the awesome might of a seasoned team who spend their days strategizing how to help cannabis brands succeed…. contact us.