Last week, Facebook announced a major policy shift regarding cannabis business pages the night before Canada legalized recreational cannabis nationwide. Previously, users were unable to find many pages for cannabis related companies in a Facebook search. Moving forward, these pages will be searchable as long as they have been verified by Facebook.
Verified Facebook pages for cannabis businesses will be accompanied with either a blue or grey verification badge so users know that they are the official business. For years cannabis business owners and investors have been thwarted by restrictive policies on social media that limit their audience reach. The shift in policy could be precursor to more acceptance for legitimate, licensed cannabis businesses wanting to raise brand awareness.
Bethany Gomez of the Brightfield Group, a cannabis marketing research firm, noted that, "It is encouraging to see Facebook taking a more nuanced look at the cannabis industry, distinguishing between illicit drug deals and legitimate businesses operating in the space.”
Each state with legal medical or recreational cannabis has specific regulation regarding how they can advertise, but developing creative legal advertising was never the problem. Cannabis marketing firm, Artisans of Fire, know this all to well and co-founder Dustin Iannotti remarked that, "Creating a strategically sound digital marketing campaign in any industry always begins and ends with Google and Facebook Ads. Cannabis brands have had to deal with barriers to this type of marketing since the birth of the industry.”
It’s been a tough hurdle to overcome as many cannabis businesses feel that the policies of Facebook and Google go even further than state law in hindering marketing efforts. Many cannabis professionals are hopeful that the recent policy change is a sign that Facebook Ads are soon to follow.
One of the most valuable aspects of advertising on Facebook is the wealth of consumer insights it generates for businesses. Analyzing these insights will allow cannabis businesses to optimize their advertising dollars and learn more about their target demographics. Legalization around the country and the world is rapidly expanding so it seems that major internet giants like Facebook and Google will adopt more lenient policies as more legalization legislation passes.
There are more curious customers about cannabis now than ever before and business owners want to strike while the iron is hot. The first order of business is getting their Facebook page verified so they can be found in a search and perhaps approved for Facebook ads down the line. In the meantime, cannabis businesses should still incorporate social media call to action in their storefront. Linking your Facebook page to IndicaOnline TV will provide that extra incentive for customers watching your digital signage.