How to Advertise Your Cannabis Business on Facebook
Reading time: min
In recent times it is quite common to hear some voices claiming that the use of social media is decreasing. It is said that Facebook's formula, in particular, not only has lost charm among regular users but also has failed to attract new audiences. However, it is necessary to look at the numbers before jumping to conclusions: As of June 2023, Facebook was the third most visited website in the world just behind Google and YouTube, while the latest Meta earnings reports showed a steady 5% increase in daily active users. While reading this data, one might think that this platform would still make it an attractive option to promote a dispensary or any cannabis-related business, but, how feasible is this idea? What restrictions am I going to find? And the main question here is… How to advertise your cannabis business on Facebook?
Come with us as we dwell deep into the dark and twisted world of Facebook (Now Meta) terms, policies, conditions and agreements.
Does Facebook Allow to Advertise Cannabis Products?
Since it’s quite common to find cannabis-related articles, pages and paraphernalia while browsing Facebook, one might think that the platform is finally relaxing the strict policies we’re all used to, unfortunately, no, that is not the case. To make a long story short, no, you cannot directly advertise cannabis or related products on Facebook or Instagram. The Transparency Center clearly states the policy that ads may not promote the sale or use of any THC products or cannabis products containing related psychoactive components". This also includes products that are eaten or non-eaten.
Advertise CBD and Hemp Products on Meta Business
There’s, however, the option to promote CBD products. But before becoming overly enthusiastic, it's necessary to point out that CBD advertising on Facebook is “only allowed with prior written permission” and has to be certified with LegitScript and should comply with the rest of Meta’s requirements, local laws, and “industry codes and guidelines".
Now, about hemp products, they can be promoted too, nonetheless, this can be done only within the following jurisdictions: Canada, the United States, and Mexico; and also must comply with the already mentioned laws and Facebook's advertising policies. To sum up, starting a CBD or Hemp campaign via Facebook can be quite difficult. Even if you have a well-established page with a substantial number of followers, there's a significant risk of your page being banned or for it to experience a drastic reduction of visibility.
Getting Around Facebook's Advertising Policies
By this point, you might think that, since the current rules of Facebook do not allow cannabis or cannabis-related products, it might be possible to promote smoking paraphernalia, by perhaps presenting it as a tobacco product, but in fact targeted for the cannabis market. However, it would be better to reconsider this option. Facebook and Instagram also prohibit the marketing and advertising of tobacco, nicotine, or related paraphernalia; this includes the use of cigarettes, vapes, or any other device designed to smoke.
Then, How To Advertise Your Cannabis Business On Facebook?
Certainly, the most effective approach to promoting your business is to focus on branding. If your target market is well-acquainted with your brand, the type of products that you offer , and the quality of your services, the followers will be there. Much like the famous quote from the movie Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come", in other words, you will have to establish a presence beyond the social media market in order to profit from the huge traffic that this platform still manages. Once this foundation has been established, it would be possible to successfully use the following social media posts without violating any policies:
Promoting related paraphernalia via photos or videos.
Since your products are well known, it is not required to explicitly mention what the product is, nor any price tag, or even actually say that the product is for sale.
Promote your business logo.
This is a tricky one, beware that even a shape of a leaf of a cannabis plant in your logo might put your page at risk, not to mention that an explicit name of an illegal substance could get you into trouble; however, a non-related logo or using the word "herb" must probably would do just fine.
Make announcements of special sales or promos on your website or physical store.
Again, remember not to promote the sale of cannabis-related products within the confinements of FB, or even worse, using Marketplace, link to your website instead, this might not always work as Facebook also crawls your website's content (images and words) but you can try.
The most important thing you should always avoid is using cannabis-related words. There are several words that when FB or Meta Business crawling bots detect, this will automatically deactivate your ad and ban your site. So be really careful with your wording. Sometimes using the word “herb” instead of cannabis, weed or marijuana is the best choice.
Another good option could be to partner with an influencer to run paid advertising. Choose one based on your market demographics such as age, style or geographical location. The alternatives can go from a video shout-out to a full campaign depending on your needs. The notable advantage here is that your business will reach a larger organic audience. Just make sure this influencer also sticks to Facebook's Advertising Policies and takes care of his or her wording.
Meta Advertising Policies in a laptop (Envato)
Facebook Meta Ads (Envato)
Some Final Words
In conclusion, while it's sometimes confusing the way Facebook enforces (or not) the strict rules on cannabis-related business, there are some marketing strategies available to safely promote your business within the boundaries of the legal conditions, unfortunately, most work has to be done outside social media. However, let's finish this article on a more optimistic note by considering the following points:
1. Personal recommendations are a great way, arguably the best, for promoting products and services. It is not always necessary to explicitly endorse a determined product along a specific price tag. Consider how the big cannabis brands in the industry like HØJ, RAW or Santa Cruz Shredder have a strong constant presence on most social platforms despite the strict rules avoiding bans or controversies. The good part is that the cannabis community has dealt with conservative restrictions for ages, for that reason, consumers are well versed in euphemistic terms and have managed to sustain a wealthy and active market over much, much worse limitations.
2. There’s a clear social trend, not only in the United States, but across the globe, towards decriminalization and legalization as a growing number of countries are starting to revise the outdated stances. On the other hand, social perception regarding the cannabis industry has changed dramatically in recent years, and thus, this is expected to be reflected eventually in social media marketing.
Finally, it’s necessary to highlight, before you decide to start any sort of campaign, not only on Facebook, but on any social media, and even while this might be obvious, be sure to stay within the boundaries of your local laws and regulations. And never forget to prioritize organic marketing strategies such as SEO, having a well-informed blog related to cannabis, and promoting your brand outside social media where restrictions are lower and audiences are also very well targeted. Some example of paid advertising you can implement is on cannabis magazines or other cannabis-related sites you can partner with.
Thank you for reading this article! Hope it was really helpful to grow your business the correct and legal way (:
Author: Emerson C.
Disclaimer: The information provided comes from research made through Facebook/Meta Business public pages and policies. The article is not meant to be used as legal counsel in any way. We highly recommend you take a deeper look into all these advertising rules on Facebook and other social media's policies. Be sure to stay within the legal boundaries of your legal jurisdiction before promoting your business in any platform.