Why? Because on average, engagement rates from influencer marketing are 16x higher than with paid media (Visually). When you see an ad, that’s an impression. But when you have a friend or a person you look up to, tell you about a product – you’re listening much more intently. 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals, even if they don’t personally know them, over brands (Nielsen). It’s this idea of 3rd party validation and promotion that makes influencer marketing so successful, and cannabis influencer marketing is no exception. When targeting the right audiences and securing partnerships with the right influencers, it’s incredibly effective. So much so that every year brands are increasing their ad spend on content and influencer marketing. It’s time that your dispensary did too.
Cannabis Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing campaigns are partnerships with people or brands of influence or social currency who have their own highly engaged following. In identifying these influencers you are able to act on the opportunity to promote your brand or products to their personal network. The art is finding key leaders whose audience is one that you’d like to interact with. It’s this positioning that allows you to reach a new audience or group of people.
Why Does Your Brand Need Influencers?
Methods of Influencer Marketing
First, you’ll need to identify quality influencers whose base of followers include people you want to engage. Rank them in order of importance and relevance. From there, you can decide between a few different strategies:
01. Marketing to Influencers
Send products or brand collateral to influencers you’re looking to attract. Familiarize them with your brand and what you offer. This could be seen as an outbound strategy.
02. Marketing Through Influencers
This requires a more formal agreement between the influencer and your brand. You’ll want to work out the details with them on what it is you’re promoting and what content you’re looking to share through their personal channel.
03. Marketing with Influencers
This method is focused on engaging influencers to be more deeply involved in your brand. In some cases, this is formally approaching them to represent your brand or in some cases, being an ambassador. This is typically a longer, deeper commitment than with the above campaign.
3 Key Assets Gained from Influencers
01. Social Reach
Influencers are able to reach thousands, if not millions of consumers through their personal social channels and platforms.
02. Original Content
Influencers produce original, high-quality, engaging marketing content for your brand. Oftentimes, you can re-purpose this content for other campaigns.
03. Consumer Trust
Influencers build and maintain strong relationships with their devoted followers who have some level of trust in the influencer’s opinion. By engaging these influencers, you are sharing in that earned trust.
Identifying Influencers in 5 Steps
The real art to cannabis influencer marketing is aligning yourself with the right people. When starting the process, we’d advise you to first go through the following steps in narrowing your focus.
01. Personality Type
Which type of influencer who best represent your brand?
Leaders who are active in their local community. Maybe they’re involved on a political level or are more involved in working with local organizations or groups that fit your target demographic.
Influencers who not only have an expansive personal network of followers but also has high engagement rates with their content.
Influencers who are trusted and/or are models in your local community. Again, these are people in leadership positions.
Influencers who tend to be early adopters in their niche. They’re always ahead of the curve and are therefore comfortable working with brands who may or may not have a widely known presence.
Is your influencer in fitness, health, lifestyle, etc.? Choose 1 or 2.
Is your influencer speaking to cannabis consumers or are they a mom blogger? Who are you trying to reach?
What topic will you speak about? You’ll use this to pitch to the influencer.
05. Type of Reach
Is their reach traffic to their site or is it their social following? Which channel?
Influencers typically fall into one or more of the following categories
Helpful and insightful
Helpful and engaging
Engaging and inspiring
Insightful and engaging
Influencers typically fall into one or more of the following categories
When identifying influencers, you’ll typically work backward by first thinking of your target audience. Who are they and where are they spending time? Who do they look up to? What are they reading? What topics do they like? By answering these questions, you’ll be on your way to discovering your target audience in a particular influencer’s follower base.
What Defines an Influencer for Your Brand?
“True influence drives action, not just awareness” (Jay Baer). To this point, not all influencers are created equally. Even if you identify an influencer who has 500K followers, that does not necessarily mean that working with them is going to benefit you. There are some other attributes to look at when securing influencers to market your dispensary.
Context is the most important characteristic to consider when choosing influencers. We’ve mentioned this now a few times, but we’ll emphasize it once more. Yes, a key interest of yours may, in fact, have a huge influence and an engaged following, but is their following relevant to your target demographic? Make sure you’re able to answer with a resounding ‘yes’ to this question before moving forward or else it’s time and money wasted.
Once you have pre-qualified an influencer for contextual fit, next up is considering their reach. How extensive is their network? What social platforms are they using and are those channels where you’d find your customer? If you work with this influencer, how far will your message go? How many people will it reach? Professional influencers will typically include media kits with these metrics. However, make sure to conduct your own research as well.
And lastly, you want to identify influencers who have cultivated an engaged following. Are they commenting? Are they buying the products they’re promoting? You want to work with influencers who have a loyal, dedicated following.
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Where to Look for Your Ideal Influencer
There are many benefits of monitoring mentions of your brand, dispensary, and/or products. One of the benefits is discovering brand advocates you didn’t even know you had. Are there people already talking about you and advocating for you? Below, we’ll offer you a few research methods to do this.
01. Research Hashtags
Are there unique hashtags you promote for your dispensary? If so, when was the last time you checked to see if there was anyone using them? Start with this and then also brainstorm any variations of your dispensary name to see if influencers may be tagging you.
02. Google Alerts
Google allows you to set-up alerts of your dispensary online. Again, you also want to include any variations that customers and influencers may possibly be using.
03. Social Mentions
There are a variety of social mention services out there if you’re interested in being notified of any mentions of your brand. This is typically a bit more comprehensive than what Google offers.
86% of influencers are typically operating a blog of some kind so this is a good place to start your search for influencers. By researching bloggers in your target niche, you will discover content and also gain a better understanding of their ‘voice’ and identity as a blogger. Is this influencer a good fit for you? In addition, if they are a blogger, you can even ask for a media kit to get a better understanding of their stats and engagement.
Compensation for Influencers
Let’s work through your questions regarding compensation for the influencers you’re working with for your campaigns. First of all, compensation is not only limited to a dollar amount. There are other ways you can compensate your influencers.
01. Shout Outs
Show your influencers you appreciate their support and re-post their content or post on your own channel. It’s as simple as a ‘thank you’ and maybe even a compliment about how big of a fan you are!
02. Product Discount or Giveaway
Influencers with larger audiences are always looking for fun ways to engage with their fans and one way they like doing this is by doing giveaways. It’s a win-win. Offer an influencer an exclusive discount for their audience or send them free branded swag to give away to their followers.
Another way to compensate your influencers is by offering them a commission on any incoming sales they generate from their campaign for you! This will further incentivize them to create actionable content directed to their audience.
Encourage User-Generated Content Creation
We’ve spoken a lot about influencers and engaging in larger, often paid, campaigns. But what about your other customers? Though they may not have extensive networks or pretty Instagram feeds, they still have mini networks of their own. So, how do you engage these types of customers? By encouraging them to create their own content! Below, are a few ideas:
Re-post customer photos to encourage customers to take photos and videos at your dispensary or to tag you when they’re taking photos with their new products!
Promote a contest or giveaway for tagging, hash tagging or taking photos in your shop.
Engage in conversations with your customers online to generate quotes or comments you can use in your marketing.
Send out free products or run an in-store giveaway. This will typically encourage them to write a good review or share their excitement with their network of friends.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each digital marketing channel.
Given the unique position of the cannabis industry, we’re only cover the digital marketing channels that are permitted to use by ancillary businesses, brands, dispensary owners, mobile applications, producers, processors, and websites. There is a legal gray area when marketing cannabis companies, and you should regularly reference the laws within your state before starting any campaign.