News and Best Practices

Cannabis and Social Media: What Can Dispensary Owners Do? [Part Three]

August 30, 2016


Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part series exploring the status of the cannabis industry on social media today, and what you can do to make sure your hard work doesn’t evaporate with the click of a button. In Parts 1 and 2 we looked at the policies of major social media sites and how consistently the sites enforce their policies.

Undoubtedly, as people increasingly migrate away from more traditional social media, there will be other options for the functions that sites like Facebook provide. As more legitimate businesses are abused, social media sites risk losing enough of their audiences to cause them significant problems.

But how do you cope in the meantime? “Honestly, use common sense and be responsible as far as how you advertise for your company,” said Regina Wells, co-founder of Durango Artisanal Tours. “And stay up on the industry news. But saying this, we have read complaints from companies that are solely informational or ancillary—having nothing to do with the buying, selling or distribution of cannabis—who are getting their pages pulled off social media without any explanation or way to defend themselves…so it feels a little wild, wild West out here,” she said.

Wells, whose company gives guided tours of the cannabis industry for visitors to Durango, Colo., also stressed that owners should closely monitor what their guests post. She recommends that dispensary owners “stay up with what people are writing on your social media page,” because owners don’t want to find ads of black marketers selling their product.

Sign a petition

Don’t like how social media sites are treating cannabis businesses? Here’s a petition you can sign to advocate for more fair policies and treatment:

Go to other websites

The cannabis community has already started searching for new solutions to the major social networks. It is only natural that new platforms would arise to give other options to those in the industry.

Durango Artisanal Tours does not rely on major social media platforms alone. “Lucky for us, there are aggregator sites like the Colorado Pot Guide to help us get our name out there.” MassRoots is the leading social media platform for the industry. Another site is Angry Bud Buzzfeed, which describes itself as a secure online social network that “connects users and enables them to share their views, photos, videos and stories.” You may want to check out these sites to see if they are better for your business than mainstream social media.

There are also other options for different aspects of the industry:

  • GrowBuddy is helpful if you’re searching for garden products.
  • Ganja Boxes is a good place for consumer items.
  • Weedmaps and Leafly help customers find doctors, dispensaries and bargains.

Stay up on policies and expect some risk

It is also important to stay up on what the policy is on a state and federal level as well as the social media landscape. In an industry that is still new and challenging social norms, dispensary operators must do whatever they can to keep up with the constantly shifting nature of the industry.

“Anyone who is venturing into this new industry must understand there is an element of risk, and with risk, it will take years to feel like we are on solid ground,” said Wells. So, don’t put all of your eggs in one social media website. Your basket should include an original website that can be bolstered by having accounts on several social media sites. Remember that Facebook (which owns Instagram) is able to shut down sites at will and does so in what seems to be a random fashion. This should be part of an overall social media marketing strategy that is flexible and informed.

The most successful entrepreneurs in this industry must be prepared for adversity and meet that adversity with patience and perseverance. According to Wells: “In the two seasons we’ve been running our company, we have seen the tightening and clarifying of the rules and regulations, and as slow as it seems to be moving, it is moving forward. Patience is everything.”

By Loren Mayshark

Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.


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