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Learn the social media cannabis rules per platform below
by Dessy Pavlova · July 18, 2022
For cannabis companies, navigating location-specific social media cannabis regulations alongside platform-specific rules around cannabis content advertising, while trying to help targeted demographics of cannabis users to find the latest and greatest products, is a small nightmare. Cannabis consumers are eager to try awesome products and learn about cannabis brands – but more often than not, product-specific marketing is a potentially risky path. Learn the social media cannabis rules per platform below!
The main way to toe the cannabis regulatory lines is to focus on crafting two types of content: brand-specific content, and cannabis education content – both of which are usually within regulations in legal states, as well as tolerated on these platforms. Read below to learn more about all the platforms you and your brand should be on, and what to know about their rules around cannabis content.
The MetaVerse has morphed many times over, and it’s not particularly kind to cannabis advertisers despite support for legal cannabis growing across the US and legalization around the world.
Instagram is a sad state for a lot of legal cannabis companies, although the underground community of plant growing and high-quality products seems to be booming despite the rules.
According to Instagram’s community guidelines, the platform doesn’t allow for advertising or selling of cannabis, regardless of the state, country, or legal status. As a cannabis company, advertising on Instagram is not a likely path, but it can still be used to spread general cannabis awareness. Many cannabis businesses attempt to protect their cannabis-focused accounts by noting nothing for sale in their bio line, though it’s unlikely to help prevent your account from getting shut down – like ours was. Remember, avoid using any obviously cannabis-related hashtags to avoid a shadowban, and focus on high-quality imagery.
Meta states that content and ads which promote advocacy – and don't promote the sale or distribution of cannabis – are supposedly allowed on Facebook. Back in 2018, Facebook users were blocked from finding cannabis pages – similar to the shadowban on Instagram. As it stands, ad accounts that follow those guidelines are shut down all the time. Facebook pages are also often restricted for not following ‘community guidelines,’ limiting opportunity for advocacy outreach. If you’re going to use Facebook, focus on your brand and educational cannabis content, and you might be able to skirt under the radar while still increasing reach.
As we well know, video content performs phenomenally on social and can be repurposed for platforms depending on your social media goals. There are a number of image and video-focused platforms, but not everyone is particularly cannabis-friendly.
A recent study came out talking about how positively cannabis is portrayed on platforms like TikTok, despite their policies to limit any drug talk. Technically, TikTok’s advertising policy bans the "promotion, sale, solicitation of, or facilitation of access to illegal drugs, controlled drugs, prescriptive drugs, drugs for the purpose of recreation, homeopathy, enhancement, performance, including weight loss.” There are a number of TikTok influencers sharing information on the platform despite this, but like Instagram, there’s a good chance to be shadowbanned if you use the usual cannabis hashtags. Like on Facebook and Instagram, cannabis accounts are using innovative hashtags like ‘ouid’ instead of ‘weed’ to stay connected. All that being said, even regulators are asking TikTok to lift their cannabis advertising restrictions to better make cannabis education accessible.
Snapchat is used by more than 500 million people worldwide, and contrary to it’s reputation, 60% of its users are 25+ years old and people over 50 are Snapchat’s fastest growing demographic. Snapchat's advertising policies do not offer specific examples, but Snapchat prohibits ads about illegal or recreational drugs or drug paraphernalia. In 2019, the platform opened up cannabis advertising rules for Canadian cannabis companies – and today, you can find a number of cannabis accounts to follow on Snapchat.
In 2021, YouTube finally loosened restrictions on cannabis content, allowing some creators to monetize their channels and allowing for cannabis advertising. This has been a long battle, with many weed creators losing their accounts over the years – leading to the creation of The WeedTube. Even today, any content that depicts or discusses the abuse, purchase, manufacture, sale or discovery of drugs or drug paraphernalia is not allowed, including promotion or glorification of recreational drugs, unless it’s somehow educational.
Not every platform is great for cannabis, but if you participate in conversations and focus on education, you’ll be able to break through the noise and reach your target audience. If you have the time to engage, the community is there to hear it.
Most recently, video streaming platform Twitch has changed its terms of service to be a little more of a cannabis-friendly social media platform. Cannabis-related usernames will no longer be banned, and cannabis content is technically allowed if you’re in a jurisdiction where cannabis is legal. Check out this list of cannabis accounts to follow on the platform.
Twitter is fairly cannabis-friendly – in fact, there are some big lists in the cannabis Twitter sphere to find and connect with people across the world in the cannabis industry. Check out this list of women in cannabis to follow.
In the US, advertisers must be licensed by the appropriate authorities and pre-authorized by Twitter, and may promote non-ingestible, legally derived CBD topical products in the jurisdictions in which they are licensed. For Canada, that means you just might be targeted for a cannabis ad, as long as you’re over 21.
LinkedIn does not censor cannabis content — you can post images of cannabis and talk about it all you want. Just make sure to avoid actually trying to sell any cannabis products; this is prohibited. Share interesting cannabis news, information, or ideas — people respond positively to simple posts that share topics of interest. You can find a number of cannabis networking groups, and easy ways to connect with people across the industry. Just remember, keep it professional.
When you’re choosing what platform to have your brand on – don’t decide to use them all. There are some benefits in saving your name on platforms across the internet and adding your website, but regular content should be catered to the platform and used to benefit your target audience.
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