This is part two of a three-part blog series. Read Part 1 –> How to Become a Cannabis Influencer.
How to Become a Weed Influencer on Instagram
The social media landscape has transformed the internet and how people interact. While each platform has its pros and cons for attracting audiences to unique content, Instagram takes the cake as the favorite platform for influencers. Unfortunately, social media has seemingly limitless limitations that make it hard for weed influencers. Still, there are many great reasons to become a cannabis influencer – the trick is knowing how to play the game.
Cannabis is still federally illegal, and Instagram errs on the side of caution. Promoting cannabis sales on Instagram will cause your account to be deactivated. Instagram has a hard time understanding whether or not a picture of weed is promoting sales, so accounts are deleted often ruthlessly. Because of this unique challenge, the metrics for a strong following for a weed influencer differ from other industries. So do not fall into the trap of comparing your 2,000 followers to the 200,000 followers of a fitness account, for example.
Bess Byers (@imcannabess) has had her Instagram account deleted nine different times. She said that one of the biggest challenges of being an influencer is “the lack of clarification from Instagram” as to why her account kept getting deleted. She said, “That is a problem with the cannabis industry and Instagram, some accounts will get verified and others posting similar content will get deleted. Some accounts do not seem to be a target of the algorithm.” This is the reason why many weed influencers will have a smaller following base compared to different industries. Being a cannabis influencer may look sexy and fun, but it is hard work to keep your account up and running.
What You Can and Cannot Post as a Weed Influencer
It can be incredibly hard to decipher what is safe and what will get your account deleted. Influencer Bess Byers (@imcannabess) says that she is “incredibly cautious to not promote any sales” because that puts your account at risk for deletion. She noticed that as her account began to grow people started messaging her about business inquiries and sponsored content, which is not entirely safe to post on Instagram. There is a fine line between promoting a product versus promoting the actual sale of a product. For example, posting a picture of edibles in cool packaging and reviewing the product should be safe to post, whereas posting that same picture and urging people to go buy the product puts your account at risk.
Bess also noticed that putting her email in her Instagram bio was getting her account deleted. Once she removed her email, her account stopped getting deleted. Let your followers slide into your DMs. In case we haven’t made this point clear, Bess reiterates, “do not put anything about sales in your bio, even if it says nothing for sale 21+.”
How to Work With The Instagram Algorithm
The Instagram algorithm is ever-changing, but a recent change messed up a lot of influencers posting techniques, especially for cannabis influencers. Considering this is such a niche industry, the algorithm may harm MJ influencers differently. The Instagram algorithm favors posts that get a lot of interaction. Many weed influencers lack the substantial following that allows for a high level of interaction, which continues the cycle of losing to the algorithm.
Influencer Lauren Mims (@currentlycolorado) says that the algorithm changes are the hardest to overcome.
Even as a marketing professional with access to great resources – you can never predict a big algorithm change. The 2018 API integrations we saw really negatively rocked the influencer world. I have spent the last two years having to hustle harder and be more proactive in my outreach than I had to the previous years, it’s a challenge but part of the game! – Lauren Mims
Being an influencer in any industry is tough, but the cannabis industry poses unique challenges for influencers. It’s essential to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not for stimulating engagement with your posts and stories. If you build the right content, your followers will come.
How To Build Your Weed Influencer Following
Influencers have no one to influence without a following, so how do you attract and build a base of supporters? First and foremost, it is essential that you know what you can and cannot post on Instagram. It bears repeating (again): Instagram will delete accounts that promote any kind of cannabis sales!
Your Instagram weed influencer account should reflect what you are passionate about and things that you feel comfortable talking about on a daily basis. Stay true to yourself and only post content that you think matches your ideas and goals. Check out Part 1 of this series for more tips from the pros about creating authentic content.
Influencer Lauren Mims (@currentlycolorado) says that it is important to not only grow your base but cultivate your following. Define a target demographic who you want to get inspired by your posts. Sometimes you will notice you are attracting followers from outside your target demographic. Lauren says when you see your following shifting, it’s time to recalibrate.
“Now that I’m over 25k [followers], I’ve noticed a good deal of my following isn’t really my target demographic. This happens, and it hurts your engagement rate. I encourage rising influencers to periodically purge who is following them and clear out dead accounts,” Lauren says.
Of course, becoming a successful weed influencer is both art and science. Stay true to your target audience and post content that you know will attract them.
Read Part 3 —> How to Take Cannabis Influencing to the Next Level
To learn more about how to become a weed influencer, join the Cannabis Marketing Association today.