Cannabis brands shouldn’t waste their time or resources on TikTok marketing. Short from video is king and TikTok gives content creators the highest chance to go viral; however, with cannabis visibility, censorship, and compliance challenges it just makes more sense to focus on other digital marketing channels that will actually drive sales and build connections with customers.
TikTok has over 1.677 billion users globally out of which 1.1 billion are its monthly active users as of 2023. This is why it’s tempting to cannabis marketers to make the platform one of their primary channels. Cannabis brands should be more cautious about making Tiktok a core element of their digital marketing strategy.
Why Cannabis Companies Should Not Make TikTok A Primary Marketing Channel:
Strict Cannabis Policy – Visibility Issues:
TikTok’s strict policy on promoting cannabis content creates visibility and censorship obstacles for cannabis marketers. The primary reason cannabis brands should be cautious about investing valuable time and resources into TikTok is the inability to utilize cannabis keywords in content. TikTok’s community guidelines prohibit the promotion and sale of drugs, including cannabis, and any content that is related to cannabis use or glorifies cannabis culture. Accounts-related to cannabis are under fire and are at high risk of being flagged, restricted, or even banned for it. Thus limiting cannabis digital marketers’ ability to grow a following and connect with their target audience.
TikTok’s user base is a very young demographic, with most of the users falling under the age of 21. Age gating, a crucial practice in the cannabis space, but becomes exceedingly complicated on TikTok due to the platform’s limitations in verifying users’ ages accurately. This puts cannabis companies at risk of exposing their content to underage audiences, which could cost them their license or leave them open to large fines.
Brand Identity and Reputation:
Maintaining a positive brand image and reputation is paramount for any business, but it becomes even more important for cannabis operators because they engage in an overly regulated industry. .If it appears that a cannabis brand is initially trying to target a younger demographic for utilizing TikTok in general, then the brand could take a huge hit in the negative PR department.. Straying into inappropriate content areas could result in perpetuating the negative stigma around cannabis culture, and undermining the brand’s efforts to establish a responsible and professional identity within the cannabis community.
There is no timeline for cannabis legalization in China. TikTok is a Chinese company. There is no real certainty that they will relax their cannabis policy any time soon. TikTok will likely be one of the last platforms to fully allow the cannabis industry to thrive.
Should I Share my Instagram Reels on Tiktok?
Instagram Reels and TikTok are both short-form video leaders in the social media realm. but there are several factors that make it challenging for cannabis social media managers to convert Reels into a TikTok-like experience for their target audience.
- Platform Design and User Behavior: Both Instagram’s and TikTok’s interfaces are built to support vertical video content that allows for content formats that are instantly optimized for mobile devices. The difference between both platforms is that the user base is completely unique on each social media platform. Users interact in very different ways, possibly due to the large age gap in the user base of each platform.
- Cannabis Compliance: Instagram is not very cannabis friendly, but it’s a lot easier to navigate cannabis compliance on Instagram than it is on Tiktok. There are Reels that would be allowed on IG that would definitely get banned on Tiktok.
- Algorithm and Discovery: Every social media platform has its own unique algorithm and discovery methods in order to recommend content to its users. Instagram is a much more competitive platform to grow a following than TikTok because of the longevity of Instagram. This is why it’s easier to go viral on Tiktok than on IG. The algorithms are looking for very different content indicators and factors when recommending new content to users.
TikTok Alternatives for Cannabis Brands
There are many digital marketing channels cannabis brands can leverage that will have a greater overall impact on brand awareness, lead generation, conversion rates, and revenue than Tiktok. Social media is one of the more complicated channels for cannabis companies and Tiktok is at the top of the list when it comes to being anti-cannabis. Consider leveraging the following channels instead of focusing on TIktok:
- Alternative Social Media Platforms – Meta platforms give cannabis marketers the potential to reach a vast number of cannabis users. Cannabis brands should focus on building a following on these platforms to educate their customers and build a strong connection with their brands. To be effective it’s crucial to have a strong compliance strategy to protect your social media accounts from being banned.
- Search Engine Marketing – Search engine optimization is one of the most effective organic channels because cannabis companies can understand how and why their customers shop. Increasing local visibility on google maps can drive a significant amount of qualified traffic to your dispensary. Utilizing blog marketing can educate and engage cannabis users who are looking for information, and then lead them down a sales funnel that drives them to retail locations seeking particular cannabis brands and products.
- Email and text messaging marketing – by utilizing powerful cannabis marketing tools like AlpineIQ cannabis marketers can harness the power of loyalty programs, personalized campaigns, and compliant email and text messaging marketing to drive sales directly. Collecting customer data and leveraging a cannabis digital marketing agency to maximize results and cut cost is an effective way to generate revenue and build a strong relationship with cannabis customers.
- Influencer Marketing – Leverage micro-influencers to drive engagement on social media platforms and get access to new followers who fit within your target audience. Cannabis brands should collaborate with other content creators to drive awareness and encourage increased product visibility.
There are more opportunities and social media alternatives that we have discussed in previous articles. Cannabis brands can use organic and paid marketing to expand their reach and connect with cannabis customers.
Obsessed to Build a Cannabis Tik Tok Audience, No Matter, What? Tips to Master Tik Tok in The Cannabis Space
While navigating the intricacies of cannabis marketing on TikTok can present challenges, there is indeed a positive side that cannabis brands can tap into to engage with their audience in creative and meaningful ways. As stated before, short-form video is the king of engaging content. Cannabis marketers can definitely get a huge digital boost for their brands by going viral on the platform by partnering in trendy challenges and dances. This content however might not connect with the demographics that will increase growth for cannabis businesses. By building an account that is completely unrelated to cannabis and focuses on the lighter side of the cannabis space brands can remain compliant while building a strong audience. The angle digital marketers can take is to show visually, but indirectly the fun and joy that cannabis can bring to people overall.
While TikTok undoubtedly offers an engaging and creative platform for marketing, cannabis brands should carefully consider the potential pitfalls before committing their resources. The strict policies on cannabis-related content, the young demographic, challenges with age gating, and potential brand image risks, makes TikTok a less-than-ideal platform for cannabis digital marketing. Brands aiming to establish a responsible and compliant presence in the cannabis industry should explore alternative marketing avenues that align more effectively with their goals and values. Consult with a cannabis digital marketing agency to help you identify which marketing channels will help you achieve your goals. At Dagga Digital Marketing we help cannabis brands grow online with our proven Digital Cultivation Method. Having an omnichannel approach is the most effective way to optimize your cannabis brand online. Book a free consultation with us today to formulate a game plan to take your brand to the next level.