How To Use Influencer Marketing for Cannabis Brands

Anyone who has ever been involved in the cannabis industry knows how hard it can be to run paid advertising on social media. The major platforms have strict guidelines on what advertisers can and cannot publish. Unfortunately, this means legitimate businesses in the cannabis, alcohol, and adult industries face an uphill battle when trying to promote their businesses at scale on social media. There are a couple of ways, however, to scale messaging even if you’re in a traditionally restricted industry – influencer marketing and programmatic display ads.

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How to identify cannabis influencers

There are a few ways to find influencers for your cannabis brand at varying levels of cost. If you’re a new brand just getting your feet wet, you can simply go on Instagram, and search for cannabis related hashtags. By looking at the top 9 influencers in each tag, you’ll find accounts that are capable of ranking. We would suggest using multiple tags for your search, particularly long-tail tags, since those tend to be the most specific. This will allow you to avoid working with influencers that are potentially not a good fit. Try using a free tool like Display Purposes to whittle down your list of potential tags to a highly targeted one.

If you’re further along your journey as a brand, using an influencer marketing platform or an influencer marketing agency to assist your efforts in finding influencers makes eminent sense. Platforms typically sit on mountains of data and can quickly determine whether an influencer is a good fit for your cannabis brand.

Agencies typically have established relationships with influencers which can certainly make the communication process easier. The only issue here is typically, especially in the cannabis industry, only hyper focused cannabis marketing agencies tend to have a large enough pool of potential influencers. The problem arises when too many cannabis brands concentrate their efforts among a small group of influencers. In this scenario, you end up with influencers selling similar competing products regularly, leading to poor outcomes.

At Smartfluence, our hybrid approach between a pure SaaS platform offering and a handholding consulting approach allows for the best of both worlds. Our team of highly trained marketers will take your inputs on both influencer and audience – age, gender, location, interest, size, comparison profiles, and more. We then turn around highly curated lists of influencers in our network that best suit your needs. Of course, you’ll be able to directly search for TikTok and YouTube cannabis influencers and reach out to them directly. Our platform allows you to find, contact, pay, and track your influencers all in one place.

How to use cannabis influencers for promotion

Now that you know how to find your cannabis influencers, the question becomes how do you use them effectively to promote your brand? Depending on what exactly your products are, and what category of influencers you’re using, your offer will differ.

For smaller influencers, try running campaigns around gifting and/or affiliate marketing. One of our premier cannabis clients, Amuse, for example, primarily activated nano-influencers at scale by offering free product combined with a fixed dollar commission for every new user on its app gained from influencer efforts. As a result, they were able to onboard several influencers at very low cost.

For larger influencers, paid activations, you’ll have to plan a budget. Typically, influencers with over 25K followers tend to require some cash component for their collaborations. On the lower end of the spectrum, influencers typically price based on engagement (average likes + comments) at around $0.25/engagement. Larger influencers price based on followers, typically around $0.01/follower on Instagram. Other platforms tend to be more expensive, like YouTube and TikTok, largely because they have the potential to go extremely viral due to video content.

How to scale your cannabis influencers

You’ve already found your influencers and they’ve created content to promote your brand, but how can you deliver that message to a wider group of people if social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram won’t let you advertise on their networks?

Enter – programmatic display advertising – when software buys ad inventory available across the internet. By using data, marketers can target hyper specific audiences while A/B testing content at scale. Instead of advertising on a social media platform, you’re advertising across a series of key websites that match your target audience.

Smartfluence offers programmatic ads services under our agency arm. We take your best performing influencer content and strategically place them across several blogs and websites, even using contextual AI to aid in our efforts, so you find exactly the audience you’re looking for.

By using programmatic ads, brands are in complete control over how much they spend. Expanding beyond an individual influencer post allows you to reach a broader audience and run more tests. Analyzing our clients’ performance over the years, influencer content has proven to outperform traditional content 2:1 on average. Scaling this with programmatic ads ensures brands place the right content in front of the right people, without having to worry about complying with outdated rules on major social media platforms.

If you’re interested in learning more about influencer marketing and how Smartfluence can help you establish and scale your influencer marketing campaigns, feel free to book a demo here.

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