(Editor’s note: This story is part of a recurring series of commentaries from professionals connected to the cannabis industry. Kendra Losee is the founder of Mota Marketing, a California-based cannabis-centric marketing agency.)
In the past year, several new social media platforms have exploded into the market and are making a big impact on the cannabis space.
Let’s dive in and see how cannabis companies are using these platforms, and how you can get the most out of the time you spend on them.
The most cannabis-friendly of the new platforms is Clubhouse. It initially launched only for iOS users but is expanding to Android users quickly.
In a world where most events have been canceled or moved online, this audio-only platform has the unique ability to quickly make connections with others in our industry and around the world.
It gives users an opportunity to easily reach new audiences, build their brand and connect.
There are always conversations going on in clubhouses and rooms on any cannabis topic, from finding investors, starting a cannabis business, to plant genetics, cannabis influencers of color.
Alternatively, you can drop into a smoke sesh room.
What makes Clubhouse unique:
- Clubhouse is an audio-only platform that does not include any direct messages or written communication.
- You can host a room and moderate who speaks, or you can jump into different rooms, listen in and raise your hand to speak if the hosts are allowing an open-mic style.
- Nothing is recorded, so if you’re not listening in live, you’re missing it.
- You can easily connect with people just by coming onto a stage and speaking on the topic. One thing to note is that you’ll often find more meaningful connections in the smaller, niche areas.
The other good news/bad news is that the platform will be opening up to Android users soon, and when it does the clubs and rooms are going to quickly become crowded.
In fact, as of February 2021, Clubhouse had grown to more than to 10 million users, a fact that Twitter took notice of and quickly developed and launched Twitter Spaces.
Twitter Spaces is an audio-only space that will be available to iOS, Android users and desktop as well.
How to get started with Clubhouse
- You need an iOS device and an invitation. The good news is that there are more invitations available now as Clubhouse continues to scale and grow.
- Create your profile. This allows people listening to you to learn more about who you are and what you do. Be sure to include links to Twitter and Instagram so your conversations can continue long after the discussion has ended.
- Search for friends, colleagues and other industry professionals to connect with and follow.
- Search for active rooms to jump into and clubhouses to follow. You’ll be notified when people and Clubhouses you follow create rooms and start discussions.
- When you’re in a room, you can raise your hand to join the stage as a speaker, or you can listen and “leave quietly” when you’re done.
The other platform that gained popularity in 2020 and continues to grow is TikTok.
Most people think of TikTok as having a younger audience, but it’s worth paying attention to.
As of February 2021, the app had approximately 80 million monthly active users in the U.S., with 80% of that audience between the ages of 16-34.
TikTok often feels young, energetic, and fun. It is a fantastic way for cannabis companies to connect with their audience, directly in a very real way.
What you need to know
TikTok has stricter community guidelines than Clubhouse and other social media platforms.
If you’re not careful, your videos will likely be removed if they include basic words and hashtags associated with cannabis (think weed, cannabis, stoned, etc.).
People often get around this by adding emojis to the hashtags or using different spellings for traditional cannabis terms if they’re adding text to their videos.
So do your research before you get started.
Another thing to know is that the algorithm tends to be a mystery, which makes it hard to know what time is the best to post, which hashtags are best to use and how to hack the algorithm for more views.
On TikTok, shadow banning is a reality, so use the spelling variations, avoid smoking on videos and keep an eye on your numbers.
How cannabis companies are using TikTok
There is a big opportunity for brands on TikTok.
Whether it is using TikTok to share stories about the brand or its employees or letting people in on the growing process, the opportunity is there.
The key for cannabis brands and dispensaries on TikTok is to combine entertainment and education.
If it’s right for your brand, skip the education part and just have fun joining in on the music and dance trends. Or, you can skip the entertainment part and focus on making cannabis education engaging.
If you want to see what dispensaries, budtenders and consumers are sharing, try starting with hashtags such as #dispensarylife, #budtender, #420 or different spellings of cannabis (cannabiz, cannabiis, cannabiiiis) and weed (#ouid #ouidtiktok #ouidschmoker).
Budtenders and people with insights into the industry are making educational videos about topics such as medical cards, terpenes, strains, new products, edibles and more.
In addition, many cannabis influencers have large followings and can extend the reach of the brands they work with. TikTok’s hashtags allow for specific niches, including cannabis moms, creators and cannabis creators of color.
The short-form video, or micro-video, content trend is only growing, so including TikTok in your marketing is a very real opportunity, particularly if you’re looking to reach the older Gen Z consumers.
How to get started with TikTok
Getting started on TikTok is simple, as anyone can download the app onto their smartphone and create an account.
- TikTok videos are easy to make, and you can get as basic or advanced as you want with your editing. The editing features on the app are worth spending time testing out.
- Create new videos using music and sounds from the app, talking or using your own sounds and (noncopyrighted) music.
- Videos can also be created by stitching or “dueting” with existing videos on the platform.
- Use hashtags to increase the visibility and reach of your videos.
Others follow suit
On the topic of micro-video content and the rapid growth of TikTok, it’s no surprise that several competitors have followed by launching their own version of TikTok on their platforms, including:
- Snapchat Spotlight
- Instagram Reels
- YouTube Shorts
The key to all of these social media platforms is that there is no hiding behind a carefully curated brand – not if you want to connect with your audience and keep them engaged.
Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces are people talking with other people, not brands talking to brands.
TikTok requires you to get in front of the camera and be relatable, engaging, entertaining, share content your audience wants to watch and share with their friends.
Whether you use Clubhouse, TikTok, Twitter Spaces, Instagram Reels or all of them, the trend is toward more conversational content and transparency.
Consumers, like the rest of us, want real experiences, quality connections and amazing experiences.
And if you can use social media to add value and positively impact their lives, they’re going to remember that. They’ll also remember your cannabis company.
Kendra Losee is the founder of Mota Marketing, a California-based cannabis-centric marketing agency. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The previous installment of this series is available here.
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