Guide: Instagram 101 for Dispensary Owners

Instagram Marketing for Dispensaries

Instagram can be an incredible marketing platform for dispensary owners. That being said, Instagram marketing for dispensaries can also be incredibly frustrating for any business in the cannabis industry. Why? When it comes to cannabis, the rules are maddeningly vague. Nonetheless, many dispensary owners find marketing on Instagram to be well worth the risk. And if you follow a few common-sense business practices, you can minimize the likelihood of having your account shut down.

Instagram Marketing For Dispensaries: What’s It Good For?

Instagram can be awesome! But specifically, Instagram marketing for dispensaries can help you in numerous ways, including:

  • Increasing sales
  • Educating and inspiring your target audience
  • Promoting events
  • Growing your email list
  • Building  a community and brand loyalty
  • Driving foot traffic
  • Gaining credibility
  • Building long-lasting relationships

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the rules and best practices.

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But first, here are two of the most essential rules for running a dispensary Instagram account.

1. Don’t Market!

Ok, let’s rephrase that. Don’t overtly market. Instagram has little to zero tolerance for profiles that conspicuously promote consuming cannabis. They generally tolerate posting content related to cannabis (especially if the material is educational). Predictably, they don’t tolerate images that glamorize cannabis use, and overt promotions are strictly verboten.

2. Make It Clear You’re Not Selling or Promoting Cannabis Use (Even If You Kind of Are)

Most of the dispensary profiles that get shut down are so obviously promoting the use of cannabis, it shouldn’t be a surprise why IG shuts them down. It’s not always clear cut, but more often than not, it’s pretty obvious. As a best practice, avoid anything that IG may consider gratuitous or overly promotional.

Seven Essential Ways to Boost Sales and Brand Awareness with Instagram

1. Define Your Goals

What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? The last thing you want to do is to post a bunch of random pictures. As a cannabis dispensary, you know that you can’t explicitly promote products, but you can build brand awareness and drive traffic to your website (which, if done strategically, will translate to sales).

You’ll want to be as specific as possible when you define your goals and make sure that everything you post supports your goals.

2. Only Share Images that Are Eye-Catching and High Quality

You don’t have to be a pro, but it doesn’t hurt to hire one. If you don’t have a budget to hire professional photographers, look at some of the top cannabis brands for inspiration. At the very least, make sure the pictures you post look semi-professional and that you post images that are cohesive and that represent your dispensary in a way that favorably represents your brand.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to limit yourself to Instagram. If you’re producing great images, repurpose these images for other media-rich social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr. In fact, you can integrate Instagram with your other social networks so that you can seamlessly cross-post.

3. Get Local: Get Involved In Your Community

As a dispensary, your presence is most likely regional or local. Connect and get involved with people and companies in your local community. Follow other local profiles, connect with other local businesses, like and comment on profiles in your community. You can also do fun things like create contests or even scavenger hunts. Just don’t offer cannabis products as prizes, which is probably not only against Instagram’s terms of service, but illegal in most communities.

4. Use Instagram to Help Your Customers to Get to Know You

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Post lots of pictures of your customers and your staff. By doing so, you personalize the experience for your followers. Moreover, you’re letting your fans and followers see “behind the curtain” and associate faces and personalities with your dispensary’s brand.

5. Establish a Consistent Posting Pattern

If you don’t post consistently (or engage with your followers regularly), you won’t get noticed. Nor will you build any brand loyalty. Many dispensaries will make the mistake of becoming active for a few weeks. They’ll build a following. And then they’ll go MIA. This is a big mistake! People’s attention span is short. If you don’t create a consistent presence, your followers will move on, and you’ll lose all the brand equity you worked so hard to create.

To make sure you’re consistent, create a plan and a posting schedule. Create themes. You should create a strategy by the quarter and implementation plans by the month, week, and day. You don’t necessarily have to post daily, but you should post several times per week.

6. Geo-Tag Your Images 

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Geo-Tags refer to identifying your images with metadata that identifies where your photograph or video was taken. Instagram’s geo-tagging gives dispensaries the ability to upload an image and simultaneously transfer that information to other social media platforms. Now Instagram allows your dispensary to display a photo-map on your profile referencing the location of the image. You can leverage geo-tagging to promote events or your location and products.

7. #Hashtags Are Your Best Friend

A hashtag is simply a phrase, word, or keyword preceded by the hash-mark (#). They’re used universally across not only Instagram but all major social media sites including Twitter and Facebook. And you simply can’t market successfully on Instagram without developing a #hashtag strategy.

Hashtags are so important, it’s hard to know where to start! We could devote an entire guide on hashtags. But here are a few essential tips:

Come up with your hashtag and get your followers to use it.

This is an awesome method for WOM, word-of-mouth marketing. By creating and owning your own hashtag, you can easily promote and monitor your brand presence on Instagram. More importantly, you enable people to find and connect with your dispensary more easily. It makes things a lot easier to see who your engaged users are.

Be sure to use keywords to create unique #hashtags. 

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Hashtags are an essential part of your IG strategy. Why are they so important? Hashtags are basically the SEO of Instagram. Brands (including dispensaries) and customers/social media users use hashtags as a discovery tool. Moreover, using keywords for your hashtags will make your brand and dispensary easier to find or discover. Make sure you use them consistently. Yes, you should include (most of them) across all your posts. Some clearly won’t be appropriate for every post, but overall, they should be used consistently and cohesively.

Create compelling and engaging captions focused on driving word-of-mouth marketing.

Pictures are only part of the story. Build engagement with what you have to say.

Now you should have a solid foundation in how to leverage Instagram to build your dispensary brand and grow revenue. To get even more from IG, consider sharing your text opt-in message to grow your subscriber base and increase your loyalty members.

For more digital marketing ideas, let’s talk! Give us a call at 650-822-7506.