Social Media giants’ reluctance to allow CBD brands to advertise on their platforms is a major stumbling block for the growth of the cannabidiol industry.
Facebook may have relaxed their advertising policies somewhat, but this is no more than a small step in the right direction. A spokesperson recently confirmed that Facebook has implemented a behind-the-scenes update allowing pages to advertise topical CBD products. This update does not include products like coffee, vapes, and gummies that consumers ingest orally.
The Realities of Social Media CBD Advertising
Instagram shares its parent company’s regulations. Although one area where they differ from Facebook appears to be their application of bans. There are numerous instances of offending Facebook pages simply being deleted without recourse. Instagram’s far less severe “shadow-ban” appears to be the punishment of choice.
Twitter also has a policy against advertising any Cannabis-related products. As do Snapchat and Pinterest.
This leaves CBD brands in a very difficult position. Do they attempt to bypass these regulations? Or do they find alternative ways to promote their brands on social media?
The Case for Paid Advertising
Many brands know the value of the targeting features embedded in social networks’ advertising platforms. This is especially useful for companies with physical storefronts who want to target users geographically.
In addition to the above, brands can target users who have specific interests with paid advertising. For brands offering niche products, this is an enormous benefit.
These reasons mean that CBD brands take the chance of submitting an ad despite it possibly being against the social network’s policies. These ads do occasionally make it past the platform’s moderation process. This could be because social media companies have automated these processes, making them prone to exploitation by savvy users. It could also be that it is often up to a human moderator’s subjective interpretation of the advert’s content.
So how to brands promote their products on platforms that don’t allow CBD marketing?
Their Ads Mention Neither CBD Nor Their Products
By focusing on advertising on their brand rather than their products, many CBD companies are able to shift the focus away from a potentially controversial topic. While the company itself focuses on providing CBD-related products, their ads needn’t do so.
Instead, the brand shines the spotlight on its ideals, practices, and values. They use generic terms like “wellness supplements”. They focus on providing information appealing to individuals interested in alternative medical treatment. They give their brand a human face by focusing on their staff and their suppliers.
These companies understand that paid ads are a subtle window to their products, rather than a digital shopfront.
They are Careful with Their Messaging
Running afoul of FDA regulations is one of the main reasons why social media platforms are dubious about allowing CBD advertising. The agency clamps down hard on companies making poorly evidenced claims about their products’ health benefits.
Many consider the FDA the final word in these matters and social media companies are no different. While the product’s legalization was a huge step towards legitimizing its use, the FDA is yet to throw its full support behind CBD and its medical uses.
That is why many CBD companies avoid making bold claims about what the substance is capable of. The FDA is a data-driven organization. When brands use specific medical jargon along with unverified stats, alarm bells will sound with the social media moderator.
When the social media moderator assesses the brand’s account and the ad’s landing page, it is crucial they don’t see this kind of messaging.
They Maintain a Tone of Professionalism
Successful CBD brands understand that social media platforms are trying to protect themselves by imposing such strict policies. This is why they take care when creating their social media and website content.
“Terminology (and imagery) to avoid is anything related to marijuana culture. While the link between CBD and pot is obvious, there is a massive gulf between how moderators interpret these two substances. This is a surefire way for a CBD brand to destroy any credibility they may have in the eyes of the social media platform.” says Justin Hamilton, founder of Royal CBD.
Another way they create credibility is to use high-quality imagery positioning their products in a healthy, sterile way. They actively downplay the link between CBD and recreational marijuana use and they reference every single credible endorsement that they have attained.
They are Transparent
Successful CBD companies have a commitment to honesty and credibility. The current status of CBD related products and how the FDA interprets them should be at the top of the list of things to be open about.
One of the main reasons the FDA has only approved a handful of CBD products is because most of its therapeutic successes are anecdotal. Successful CBD brands have no qualms in placing this disclaimer on their social media posts and websites.
The Organic Approach
There are some CBD companies who prefer not to use paid promotions at all. These companies lose the benefit of geo-targeting and cannot seek out users with specific interests.
They overcome this drawback by using niche influencers. These companies identify a relevant person or brand with a sizable following and pay them to promote their products directly with an organic post.
Since a regular post isn’t subject to the same regulations as a paid ad, there are far fewer restrictions in the content of the post or the landing page it’s linked to.
Not only do companies avoid the risk of a ban, but they are also making use of a very effective marketing strategy. Influencers are called so for a reason. They shape the commercial behavior of their followers. And they are very effective at doing so.
Media Kix recently brought to light two remarkable statistics from a 2019 survey: 71% of marketing professionals consider the quality of traffic obtained from influencer marketing better than other sources. Furthermore, 89% of them agree that the return obtained from influencer involvement is on par (or better) than traditional channels.