Instagram vs Blog? In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to choose between these two powerful approaches to dispensary marketing. Unfortunately, we live in this world: The one with limited budgets, onerous advertising regulations and an ever-growing list of competitors. All too often, we’re forced to make uncomfortable choices when it comes to how we spend our marketing dollars.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few aspects of both blogging and Instagram. While we’re not going to come down hard on one side or the other, we’ll share a few tips that should help you kick-start your marketing efforts in either arena.
Don’t Believe the Hype: In 2020, Blogs Are Alive and Kicking
For years, a certain group of industry watchers have warned that blogs are going the way of the dodo. The essential argument goes something like this:
In an increasingly mobile world, who has time to read? Instagram is far more immediate and relatable! Plus, it’s free!
That’s all true, to an extent. But it doesn’t explain why over half of marketers admit that creating content like blogs is their top priority, or why 60% of consumers say blog posts are valuable in the early stages of the buying process.
The fact is that now more than ever, storytelling is an integral part of the consumer experience. And nothing draws consumers into the story better than a well-crafted, compelling blog post. Let’s begin by focusing on the “well crafted and compelling” parts.
Offer a Value Add
The best blogs add value to readers’ lives. That can be in the form of instructional or practical posts—How Do I Use Cannabis Oral Solutions? or How Do Terpenes Interact With Our Bodies? come to mind—or they can be aspirational, allowing readers to relate to personal stories and in effect see themselves on the page. Some examples of this approach might be How Cannabis Supercharged My Self-Care Routine or Surprise, Surprise: How my Ex-Cop Dad Embraced Cannabis for Wellness.
Whichever way you go, it’s important to think in terms of strong storytelling rather than self-promotion. There’s plenty of places to do that elsewhere (your well-designed website pages, for a start). Start by imagining a narrative that interests you, and go from there.
Embrace Your Community
Along the same lines, blogs are a great place to highlight and celebrate your community. By letting readers know what—and who—you care about, it invites them to form a more personal connection with you. A great blog that highlights the people you interact or do business with creates a ripple effect, saying: These are my people. As survey after survey demonstrates, consumers are hungry for this kind of connection to the brands they interact with.
Best of Both Worlds
In a sense, we’re creating an artificial distinction when we say “Instagram vs blog.” While blogs by nature are more long-form and permanent than Instagram posts—a major value-add, by the way, when it comes to repurposing and repackaging older content—their very nature as an online article means they can incorporate many of the things that make Instagram and other social media platforms so appealing. Compelling images? Check. Embedded video or podcast audio? Check. You get the picture: By incorporating visual and dynamic elements into a blog, you can help make the story come to life in a very real sense, and deepen your customers’ experience (and interest in your brand).
Instagram and Dispensaries: The Skinny
We’ve talked a good deal about the upsides of blogs. But Instagram isn’t the second-most-popular social media platform in the US for no reason; by providing its users a fleet-footed, never-ending stream of compelling images and video, it occupies a vital place in the social stratosphere.
But Instagram isn’t a perfect fit for dispensaries. While the buy-in is low—it’s free to post, and it doesn’t impose the time-intensive demands of blogging—there are many things you can’t post on Instagram. (For a refresher, read our primer “What to Post on Instagram (and Some Things You Shouldn’t)” or take a deep dive with our recent webinar on the topic.)
Does that mean dispensaries should just steer clear? Absolutely not! Remember the part about “allowing readers to relate to personal stories and see themselves on the page” a few paragraphs back? Instagram is made for that, and—when it’s done right—there are few mediums more visceral and compelling.
But in order to navigate the platform’s many bylaws, you’ll need to do some strategic thinking on the topic. If you’re visually oriented (or happen to have access to compelling, Instagram-friendly images relating to your brand) we advise you to post early and often. (Be sure to read our “Instagram 101” blog for more granular tips.)
But if—like many dispensary operators—you’re trying to make the most of your tight marketing budget, here’s something to consider. Posting on Instagram requires far less effort than researching and writing a blog, at least in terms of up-front costs. But if they’re well-crafted and compelling, blogs will over time tend to generate a steadier and long-lived trickle of traffic.
By comparison, even if you’re lucky enough to get name-checked by an influencer, an Instagram post comes and goes in the blink of an eye. While a sudden flood of traffic is nothing to sneeze at, the truth is that it’s relatively difficult to sustain for any period of time.
At the end of the day, whether you pursue blogs or Instagram as a marketing tool is a personal choice. Neither are perfect: Blogs have more potential to tell a deep and engaging story, but they require time and effort to pull off. Instagram is compelling and immediate, but it’s a limited platform for dispensaries in particular (and it requires a steady diet of posts to gain traction).