Cannabis Influencer Marketing 101
Cannabis influencer marketing is about to explode. Though cannabis marketing is unfortunately tricky, a solid return on the investment makes it well worth it. To be clear, the cannabis industry must adhere to strict guidelines from companies like Facebook, Google, TikTok, and YouTube, many of which contradict the very products they sell.
Fortunately, cannabis businesses can employ some clever marketing strategies to skirt many of these restrictions. As cannabis legalization continues to expand, it will only be a matter of time before the rules start changing in favor of the cannabis industry. In the meantime, cannabis businesses will have to be creative when it comes to advertising cannabis companies.
Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of cannabis influencer marketing, in particular, and explain how cannabis and hemp businesses can utilize influencers with great advantage to their companies.
To be clear, cannabis influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that employs cannabis influencers to market their products. Influencers generally require ample room for creativity, which allows them to build trust among their community and promote products and brands with ease.
People follow influencers because they like who they are and what they represent. They might find them entertaining, informative, or otherwise valuable to their time. Moreover, they will often engage directly with them and the products they promote. In other words, people who follow cannabis influencers are already happy to lend them attention. When an influencer mentions a brand, their followers will immediately listen – for the better or worse.
Understanding Cannabis Influencer Marketing
The influencer marketing industry’s worth was $8 billion in 2019, and statisticians expect it to grow to $15 billion by 2022. Notably, 79 percent of brands currently use Instagram for influencer marketing, 46 percent use Facebook, 36 percent use YouTube, 24 percent use Twitter, and 12 percent use LinkedIn. Influencer marketing for cannabis businesses is especially popular because they cannot buy ads on popular social media platforms. Consequently, influencer marketing is one of the safest and most effective ways to market cannabis businesses on social media.
To be clear, social media is a massive part of many people’s lives. They use it for entertainment, communication, and virtual shopping too, which is all the more prevalent given the recent Covid crisis.
Influencers act as important intermediaries between brands and customers by offering authentic viewpoints and product reviews. If influencers truly like a product, they are more likely to share it authentically with their audience in a way that will help sell it. Influencers in the cannabis space easily target products and services in the cannabis industry. As such, the content they create automatically targets the demographic most likely to purchase cannabis-based products and services. The bigger their audience, the more potential customers they can help create.
The analytics company, Annalect, partnered with Twitter to research exactly how much influence influencers really have over their followers. About 49 percent of respondents said they take influencers’ recommendations on Twitter compared to 56 percent who take recommendations from their friends. This data most likely transfers to other social media platforms, which suggests that people trust influencers almost as much as they trust their friends in some cases.
What does this say about the power of influencers, then? It says they are a reliable way to market a product.
Why is Influencer Marketing So Important in the Cannabis Industry?
Most locations place strict restrictions on cannabis marketing. For instance, in Colorado, cannabis brands can’t legally market in print, on the radio, on television, or digitally unless there is reliable evidence that 30 percent of the audience or less is under age 21. There are similar laws in many other states, and rules for cannabis marketing are even more strict in certain areas.
Cannabis content creators on social media, including cannabis copywriting, often include “21+” in their bios to bypass restrictions about audience age, thereby making it easier for them to market cannabis products. Additionally, analytics offer insight into an audience’s age on many online platforms. As such, influencers can easily prove that their audience is less than 30 percent under 21.
As mentioned, social media platforms and online companies also restrict advertising in the cannabis industry. For example, Facebook and Instagram’s paid advertising policies clearly state that they don’t allow recreational drug sale or use. As such, cannabis companies must only employ organic social media advertising. Cannabis influencers are an excellent way to make that happen.
Limiting cannabis marketing restrictions mean that cannabis influencer marketing is especially valuable in the space. With few other ways to legally market cannabis products, influencer marketing is a great alternative. Cannabis influencers provide a legal, efficient, and effective way to connect cannabis brands with customers.
How to Find Cannabis Influencers
Not all cannabis influencers will work for every brand. It’s important to research each influencer thoroughly to determine if their persona is a good fit for a company or product. For instance, most cannabis Instagram accounts primarily post memes and funny content. While excellent for some aesthetically-focused cannabis brands, cannabis Instagram influencers might not be great for brands that are not very image-heavy or attractive.
Please note, there are tons of popular cannabis accounts across all social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Notably, some focus more on cannabis culture while others address more physical or holistic topics. Still, other cannabis influencers are activists, growers, or business consultants. As such, researching an influencer before reaching out to them is crucial for ensuring the demographic they target meets a brand’s target audience.
Consider things like the genre of their content, their personality, their image, the things they typically talk about, and their niche to determine if they will be a good fit for your brand before reaching out to them.
How to Approach Cannabis Influencer Marketing
The best strategy for an effective cannabis influencer marketing strategy is to find a few single influencers that can represent the brand well. It is best to avoid hiring too many influencers at once so that brands can measure a single influencer’s effectiveness and then pivot accordingly. Before committing to a long-term agreement, cannabis businesses should always test an influencer’s reach and how their content works for return on investment. Companies should consider requesting few posts from a single influencer and monitoring referrals from there. After finding a few influencers that can help build brand trust, companies may choose to employ another influencer to start the vetting process again.
Please note: influencer marketing may include more hurdles than traditional marketing because the influencer is including your brand products personally into their image. Their audiences trust them and often follow their advice and recommendations, and that trust costs money – and high-quality products — to access. Be aware: influencers now know what their marketing is worth, and experienced influencers offer a better return on investment than other marketing forms. As such, most expect proper payment for the association.
Influencers’ pay depends on several factors. They are freelance cannabis creatives, and their payment depends on their popularity. The more followers they have, the more they tend to charge. That’s because more followers usually mean more reach and more return on investment, especially if companies can find influencers that align well with their brand.
Some cannabis influencers don’t require upfront payment and will do affiliate marketing instead. They get a commission off of affiliated sales instead of getting paid upfront. The amount of that commission often depends on their popularity and ability to market themselves and their publishing platforms.
Tips for Cannabis Influencer Marketing
The most effective influencers create their own content. As such, companies must grant influencers creative authority over the content they publish. This is not to say that they can say whatever they want about a product or brand, but rather that they should have the creative license necessary to deliver their message in their own tone.
Notably, the guidelines on most social media platforms are not specific outside of paid ads. However, influencers must still be mindful of what they post to avoid penalties. Importantly, influencers should avoid mentioning pricing and other promotional material lest they appear to be promoting “recreational drug use”. They must also ensure that the content targets an audience 21+ to avoid legal repercussions.
Furthermore, influencers must admit an association with a company. This form of transparency helps track ROI, and is a pretty big legal issue. The FTC now checks into influencer marketing more closely to ensure they disclose paid content and affiliate partnerships. Companies must ensure their influencers always disclose sponsored content.
Notably, CBD marketing on social media has more leeway than marijuana SM marketing because CBD is legal in more places. However, in both cases, it is generally permissible if influencers discuss their own experiences, provided that they never make unverified health claims, thereby implying that it is a drug.
How to Properly Contact a Cannabis Influencer
Often, the best way to contact an influencer is to contact them directly. Available influencers usually include their preferred contact method in their bios or tell you how to reach them through their content.
However, companies must remember that successful influencers receive countless pitches daily. As such, cannabis businesses must send pitches that get noticed. The best way to do this is to be up-front from the jump, outlining proposed compensation and expectations. Companies should also clearly state why their products or services are valuable to the influencer and their audience and strongly consider donating free samples to earn influencer product reviews.
Start-up companies with a low cannabis influencer marketing budget might offer affiliate marketing or free products. However, larger companies – and more prestigious influencers – often require more substantial compensation for their services
10 Popular Cannabis Influencers
These are a mix of freelance cannabis content creators making photos and videos of primarily cannabis-related content. Some do marijuana content, while others focus on CBD and hemp marketing and content.
Koala.Puffss is primarily on Instagram, but she also on Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat where she interacts with almost a million followers. Her content is mostly video, lighthearted, and funny, though sometimes informative too.
sunny.daze is based out of Denver, Colorado, and has just over 62,000 Instagram followers. She’s honest, fashionable, artsy, and straight-forward in her posts related to both marijuana and CBD. They range from informative to personal to funny to wise, and her visuals are always stunning.
applecrumbwill is a TikTok influencer with over 300,000 followers. His videos are fun and hilarious, and most of his followers watch him because he is quite entertaining. His creative talent prompts many viewers to return to his channel many times over.
tokinGLX has over 166,000 followers on his YouTube channel. His videos are down-to-earth, sometimes funny, sometimes informative, and generally very entertaining. He primarily sits down to toke on some fresh green then discuss whatever crosses his mind.
cannabisfeminist shares her stunning images with more than 46,000 Instagram followers. Her content is super creative, with a strong focus on cannabis news and culture.
Carver Johns has over 100,000 Twitter followers. His focus is on cannabis gardening, and his posts contain great information on that topic. However, he also includes cannabis-related news, recipes, art, pet stuff, entertainment, and reviews.
That High Couple
That High Couple – With over 88,000 Youtube subscribers, this couple will make you fall in love with cannabis all over again. Though their YouTube following is quite substantial, their Instagram is rapidly catching up. Alice and Clark are fun and dorky-hipster cool with lots of great information delivered in an aesthetically-pleasing and entertaining way.
imcannabess has over 95,000 followers on Instagram. She usually makes wellness-focused content, where she sees cannabis as a part of her mental and physical health. Her posts are usually witty and sometimes funny as well.
trippy.treez is an attractive young Tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube cannabis influencer with over 200,000 followers on Insta. Most of her content is sexy and hip, and some of her videos are pretty funny, too.
heytommychong – Tommy Chong is perhaps one of the most famous cannabis influencers in the world, having gained his popularity from his marijuana-based Cheech & Chong comedy films and albums. Now he’s not only an actor, writer, and musician, but a cannabis influencer and activist with millions of followers across all social platforms.
Final Thoughts about Cannabis Influencer Marketing
Cannabis influencers have a huge – well – influence over their followers. As such, hiring cannabis influencers to market your CBD brand can garner significant attention and thrust your CBD product to the top of everyone’s favorite list. That is if you have a brag-worthy product.
Before hiring an influencer for your cannabis marketing strategy, research the best personalities to represent your brand and outline exactly why they, in particular, should think your stuff is worth mentioning. Remember, when you solicit help from a cannabis influencer, you must make it worth their time. Always offer to pay them for their services and offer a few SWAG bags to sweeten the deal.
Contact us for more cannabis marketing advice or view our list of writers to amp up your content marketing strategy now.
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