Social Media for CBD & Medical Cannabis Brands: How to Get Started + Use Instagram for Business
With Facebook refocussing on “connecting people” again, more and more cannabis brands now use Instagram for business promotion and brand awareness. With the focus on beautiful visuals and coherent themes your Instagram business profile is a natural and obvious match to help you build brand awareness, a loyal following and achieve your business goals.
In fact, the latest statistics show that more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile every day. Similarly, 80% of accounts follow at least one Instagram business account with 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram, with 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses. That is a lot of people that have the potential to become a follower, brand advocate or customer.
Here’s we’ll explore everything you need to know about how to use Instagram for business, whether you’re just starting out or you need to update and refine your current Instagram strategy.
First things first. Setting Up Your Account
If you don’t have an existing personal account of if you want to keep your personal account personal, creating a brand-new Instagram business account is the right choice for you. Setting you your Instagram business account from scratch is pretty easy.
Setting up an instagram Business Account from scratch
- Download the Instagram app for iOS, Android, or Windows.
- Open the app and tap Sign Up.
- Enter your email address and tap Next. If you want to connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook Business Page, make sure to use an admin email address to sign up, or tap Log in with Facebook.
- Choose your username and password and fill in your profile information.
- Tap Done.
If you want to convert your personal Instagram account with brand-appropriate content and/or an established following, it’s probably easier to simply convert it into an Instagram business profile than to start again from scratch.
Converting a personal instagram account to a business account
- Log into your existing personal Instagram account on the app.
- Tap the profile icon to go to your profile.
- Tap the three lines icon at the top right of the screen, then tap Settings.
- Tap Switch to Business Profile, then Continue.
- Recommended: If you want to connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook business page, follow the prompts to do so.
- Add contact information: Your Instagram for business account must include an email address, a phone number, or a physical address.
- Tap Done.
Now that you have your Instagram business profile set up, we can go ahead and create a killer strategy to help you navigate using Instagram for business promotion and brand building.
Step 1: Define your target audience
I know, I know… it’s the usual mantra. Know your audience. But it really is vital to know who you are speaking to before you can decide the type of visuals to post to Instagram. It will also help you define topics and themes as they relate to your cannabis business, your products and your audience.
To do this effectively, you really need to dive deep into your demographics to define your specific target audience that is unique to your cannabis business and brand. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Find out who are already engaging with and buying from you
- Check the analytics on your website and other social media channels to learn who interacts and follows you there
- Do some competitor research to see who follows them and what their audience generally looks like
- Create a clear value statement for your brand and think about which types of people will be attracted to that
- Create buyer personas. Check out this step-by-step guide to help get you started
Once you’ve figured out who your audience is and the types of people who you want to attract, you can start thinking of the type of content, themes and topics they would like to see from you. Taking a look at the type of content they post to their own accounts can help you with this. Also, take a look at how they interact with your competitors or similar brands to your own. What do they like and what types of post get the most engagement?
Step 2: Optimize your profile
When you set up your business account or converted your personal account, chances are you entered some basic information. Now it’s time to optimize your profile.
Tweak your bio
Start by tweaking your Instagram bio. At only a 150 characters, it needs to do a lot - everything from telling first-time visitors what your cannabis business does to conveying your brand’s personality to why they should care and bother following you. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use your own unique brand voice and speak directly to the audience you defined in step 1
- Include hashtags as they are both clickable as well as a great way to show off user generated content
- Try including an emoji since they convey a lot of information while using very little space
- Use spacing and line breaks to make your bio easier to read
Use Business Features to your full advantage
Instagram business profiles have a lot of features that personal accounts do not and it is totally counterproductive to not use these to your full advantage. Make sure the following sections are filled in completely:
- Name and username: These are the only parts of your Instagram business profile that are searchable, so it’s important to include your real brand name. As with you logo, using the same username across all your social networks not only builds brand awareness and recognition but it also makes it easier for people to find you
- Website: This is the only organic clickable link you have In instagram, so be sure to include a link to your website, latest blog post, a current promotional campaign, or even a dedicated Instagram landing page.
- Contact information: When you add contact information, Instagram creates corresponding buttons (Call, Email, or Get Directions) for your profile. Make it easy for people to contact you directly from your profile so make sure to include your email address and/or phone number. And if you have a physical shop, add your business address as well.
- Category: This appears under your name and shows people at a glance what you do so make sure to include some variation of what your business is about for example CBD brand or medical cannabis dispensary
- Call-to-action buttons: If you have a face-to-face service based cannabis business including a call-to-action button on your profile will allow people to book an appointment with you directly from your Instagram profile. To create one, tap Edit Profile, then Contact Options, then Add an action button.
Optimize your profile pic
For most cannabis businesses, the best profile pic is your logo - the idea is to create brand awareness after all and your logo is vital in doing this. It is also important to stay consistent so makes sure you use the same picture on all your social profiles to help people instantly identify your brand.
Step 3: Set goals and objectives
If you don’t know what you want to achieve, using Instagram for business is a bit of a shot in the dark. Understanding and defining your goals and objective will not only help you develop a focussed strategy, but it will also help keep you on track to make sure your efforts are not for nought.
I like personal like SMART goals to help me create a framework when setting goals and objectives. SMART is simply an acronym that stands for
- Specific, i.e., goals that are well defined, clear, and unambiguous;
- Measurable, i.e., goals that define specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal;
- Attainable, i.e., goals that are attainable and not impossible to achieve;
- Relevant, i.e., goals that are reachable, realistic, and relevant to your business objectives, and;
- Timely, i.e., goals that have clearly defined timeline, including a start date and target date to help create urgency.
When creating goals and objectives when using Instagram for business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of basing them on or focussing on vanity metrics such as likes, follower count, and comments. And although these are good to include, it is also important to make sure that you set goals that relate to real business objectives like driving traffic to your website or getting eyeballs on blog posts.
The specifics will vary from cannabis business to cannabis business, but generally speaking, the performance metrics that you should focus on are those that are related to your sales funnels. What I mean by this is that your goals should related to the four stages of your customer’s journey (i.e., awareness, interest, decision and action), and the metrics you use should help you get clear on exactly this.
For instance, during the “awareness” stage, metrics related to brand awareness, follower growth rate, and post reach are useful while metrics like engagement rate (based on likes) and amplification rate (based on shares) are good to look at when looking at users in the “interest” stage. Similarly, followers that are in the “decision” and “action” phases look at things like click-through rates and bounce rates as well as testimonials in the form of reposts and comments.
Step 4: Create a Content Calendar
One of the most important things when it comes to using instagram for business is consistency, in other words, committing to a regular posting schedule. The thing is that, once you start building a following, you want to keep them aware of you and your brand while keeping them interested and engaged. Simply put, your fan base is going to expect to see regular updates and posts from you. And if they don’t, chances are they are going to start engaging with a brand that does.
This doesn’t mean that you have to post 50 gazillion posts every day. It does however mean that you should decide on a posting schedule that works for you and then stick to it - whether this is a post a day or three posts a week. An easy way to help you stay on track is to create a content calendar (check out this how-to guide). Use this to help you create and organize your content, as well as your posting and promotional schedules.
To help you figure out which days and times are the best to post, check out your insights. That is the major benefit of having an Instagram for business account. You get exactly that, insights into your followers - who they are, where they are from and when they are online. Use that to your advantage. To access this information, go to your Instagram business profile, click the three bars icon in the top right, then click Insights. Click on the Audience tab and scroll down to see active times.
However, you’ll also need to do a bit of experimentation to see which times create the most engagement for your posts. Just because your audience is online at that time, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are engaging.
Step 5: Share great content
Posting pictures is the most obvious part of using Instagram for business but it is vital that you create a cohesive, on-brand visual aesthetic for your Instagram feed. Instagram is all about the visuals, so it’s important to have a recognizable visual brand identity on top of relevant and great content.
In addition to simply taking great pictures, you also need to decide on a content theme you want to go with. What do you want your posts to reveal and relay about you and your brand? For product based cannabis businesses this is pretty obvious - you will showcase your products. But if you offer a service, things might be a bit more complicated. Good options here would be to highlight customer stories and people and brands you work with. But including things like behind the scenes posts and introducing your followers to the people who make up your brand are also great post options for all types of cannabis businesses.
Once you have that down, decide on a consistent visual aesthetic or look. This will include consistent colors in-line with your branding as well as filters that will make it easy for your followers to immediately recognize that it is you when scrolling through their feed.
You also want to make sure that your captions are attention-grabbing. Captions allow you to tell your story and make each and every photo meaningful. If done right, captions will help your followers connect with and stay connected with you and your cannabis business. Develop and stick to your brand voice and create a set of guidelines, to help keep your captions distinct and on-brand.
It’s also a good idea to create a set of relevant hashtags as they are searchable and a great way to get your posts in front of people who aren’t already following you. Also consider creating your own branded hashtag. They are a good way to encourage followers to share photos that fit your brand image and an excellent source for user-generated content that will help you build a community of followers.
Step 6: Grow and engage your audience
Now that you have a business profile and you’ve decided on a cohesive, on-brand content them and aesthetic, it is time to get it out to an audience. Engage with people and brands you like and look up to. Comment on appropriate Instagram post and participate in discussions.
These are simple ways to make your presence known and directly attract people to you and your content, but also things that Instagram looks at when deciding what content to show in your followers feeds.
Step 7: Measure success and make adjustments
Once you’ve got everything set up, you started posting content and you started building a following, it is important to check back and see how your progress measures up to your business goals and objectives.
There are a lot of numbers to keep an eye on and you’ll want to track engagement on individual posts, stories, profile visits, website clicks, reach and impressions. And as you figure out what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience, you will be able to refine your strategy.
The most important thing to remember when using Instagram for business is that it is a social media platform, and social media is that about exactly that - being social and building a community. A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Although it is tempting to want a giant following off the bat, do not buy followers. It’s disingenuous and chances are your real followers will figure it out and you’ll lose all credibility
- Regarding follower count - it is really so much better to have a smaller but relevant and engaged community of followers than 10,000 followers of which one or two of them are a little bit interested in what you do
- Do not forget the social aspect of social media. This means responding to comments and mentions as well as returning the favor
- When engaging with other accounts, please be genuine. Do NOT copy and paste a generic comments and do not use automated engagement bots to do this for you either (see point 1)
INTERESTED IN SOME MORE AWESOME IDEAS ON HOW TO GET YOUR CANNABIS OR CBD BRAND AHEAD OF THE CROWD? CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES TO GET YOU STARTED
- How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy in 2020 for Your Cannabis or CBD Brand
- How To Create A Buyer Persona for Your Cannabis or CBD Business
- How to Market Your Cannabis Business Effectively & Legally with Content Marketing
- How to Repurpose Content & Why You Should for Your Cannabis or CBD Business Blog
- 5 Reasons Why You Need to Create Regular Content For Your Cannabis or CBD Business Blog
ABOUT LIEZE BOSHOFF
Lieze, is the founder of LBC3 Marketing, a leading content marketing and copywriting consultancy, working exclusively in the cannabis industry.
Lieze is a passionate and data-driven content marketing consultant with over 3 years of medical cannabis and CBD industry experience. Working with a wide range of brands and businesses globally, Lieze specializes in helping her clients get clear on their content strategy, creating educational and engaging content, and crafting conversion-focussed copy that resonates with their ideal customers.
If you're ready to see the impact a strategic Content Marketing plan and well-crafted Copywriting can do for you and your cannabis or CBD business, take that first step, contact her here for a free consultation.
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