Running an Instagram campaign in the cannabis industry can be very difficult. While the laws regarding medical marijuana and full legalization are beginning to shift state by state each day, Facebook and Instagram’s rules and regulations still adhere to the overarching laws of the US federal government.
In the past year, there have been countless instances of dispensary and cannabis business accounts being shut down, some for actual violations of Instagram’s rules and many for no obvious reason.
Navigating state/federal law and Instagram policies can be extremely difficult, especially when you’re trying to craft a creative campaign. We have a few tactics and guidelines to follow to make sure that your dispensary Instagram account does not get shut down.
Instagram’s rules and regulations.
“Instagram is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organized crime, or hate groups. Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms and illegal or prescription drugs (even if it’s legal in your region) is also not allowed. Remember always to follow the law when offering to sell or buy other regulated goods. Accounts promoting online gambling, online real money games of skill or online lotteries must get our prior written permission before using any of our products.”
The critical piece is in regard to “illegal or prescription drugs”. Instagram recognizes that cannabis and other drugs are becoming legal in states within the US. However, Instagram still abides by federal law. It’s a waiting game for the US to fully legalize recreational cannabis until we see Instagram change these guidelines. Until these guidelines change, following the strategies below are extremely important to stay in compliance with Instagram’s rules and regulations.
How to craft your bio.
There are a few things to consider to make sure you have in your bio to stay compliant with Instagram’s guidelines. Instagram’s algorithms are constantly scanning profiles for keywords and terms that might be related to accounts that are not following their rules and regulations.
The first rule is not to have any words related to cannabis in your bio. Instagram will typically shut your account down when they find business accounts with this type of copy in their bio.
Next, you will want to have a short sentence stating that all of your content is for users 21+. You can also add another short statement that nothing is for sale. Both of these statements are crucial in letting Instagram know that you are not promoting the sale of an “illegal drug”.
The types of content to post.
The best way to stay compliant with your content is to not display the actual product itself like the flower or concentrate. Instead, focus on the packaging of products and the brands that you carry.
Focusing on the brands and products you sell will still provide you with plenty of diverse content for your page. Just because you can’t show flower doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. There are many pages on Instagram where you can see weed and dabs and almost anything else that is illegal. The difference between those pages and yours is that you are an actual business and Instagram takes that much more seriously than a personal page.
Types of posts to avoid.
Your post’s captions are another major factor in staying compliant with Instagram’s rules and regulations. Instagram’s algorithms comb through all of their users personal and business profiles looking for keywords that reference things that fall under inappropriate content such as cannabis related terms, because it is still federally illegal.
A personal profile can get away with a lot more, but as a business, it is essential to keep this in mind as they seem to target business accounts more aggressively.
Another thing to remember is to not imply the sale of your products in any way shape or form. This means any information related to availability, prices, deals or discounts. We have seen content gets removed with copy like “This strain available now” or ” We’re having a sale on flower today.”
There are a few ways to stay away from this and still cultivate an engaging message to your followers and customers. Talk about the grower/processors that you carry in your dispensary, the specific products from those grower/processors, and then focus on your dispensary and your employees. Talk about your locations and the areas they are in, feature your employees and a quote about working in the industry.
These are just a few examples but there are plenty of things to promote on your account. In a nutshell, it’s best to stay away from pricing, deals, and availability until cannabis becomes federally legal and Instagram changes their policies.
Responding to comments.
Answering comments is another touchy subject when it comes to staying compliant with Instagram’s rules and regulations and should be treated with the same guidelines as your other copy.
It’s good to respond to all comments under posts, but when a patient or follower is asking anything related to availability, prices, deals or discounts, answer them in a direct message. You can comment back to them and say that you sent them a message, so they know you reached out and so other users on your page see that you’re engaging with them and not just leaving questions unanswered.
As a business, Instagram accounts are crucial for not only reaching new customers but being a place where you can inform and interact with your audience directly.
Unfortunately, for dispensary accounts, we must tailor our message and content to stay compliant with Instagram’s policies. Until then, the best way to keep your dispensary’s Instagram account safe is to be cautious, calculated, and understand the rules that they set.
If your account has been banned or you’re worried about the type of content and interaction that is happening on your account, hit us up! We’ve been helping companies in the cannabis industry achieve success through Instagram campaigns for over 10 years. We know the ins and outs of the platform, how to grow quickly, and how to keep your account from getting banned.