Advertising with CBD Influencers
With the legalization of many cannabis products, there has been a massive uptick in cannabis brands out on the market today. Even for CBD products and other hemp products that never had THC included in them, legalization classification was always an issue, and the relaxing of laws has seen these markets surge.
The (Cannabidiol) CBD market is one aspect of the cannabis industry that has seen tremendous growth in both profits as well as competition.
CBD marketing for brands looking to turn a profit and grow their market share is becoming more important than ever. Digital marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), competent E-commerce practices, and effectively reaching potential customers are key to survival.
At the same time, many channels used to reach consumers are either unavailable to the CBD industry currently (due to health regulations and laws regarding advertisements) or are not optimal for explaining a product of which consumers may lack knowledge.
The solution to these issues has been adopting media influencers as an even bigger aspect of marketing strategies.
We are going to explore why CBD influencers are so important today, and how CBD brands are currently utilizing them to most significant effect.
So What Is Influencer Marketing?
Simply put, influencer marketing is where a brand utilizes someone who is popular or has a following on social media sites such as Instagram or YouTube to sell to their audience.
Just as with celebrity endorsements, this method uses the social proofing of popular personality to market directly to those who value their opinion.
Whenever you see that popular Instagram model sharing a hotel link, or that YouTuber talking about a phone game, these are more often than not influencer marketing initiatives.
Podcasts are a strange middle-ground between traditional radio ads and influencer marketing but can be included here if the podcaster himself is a well-known or popular personality.
Think about this, CBD is going to need millennials for future growth, but only 1% of young people trust ads. At the same time, around 30% of young people trust online reviews, and 40% of people said they purchased a product after seeing a social media influencer use it.
Why Influencers are Great for CBD Companies
Trying to use traditional or digital advertising with limited interaction can make it very hard to explain and justify CBD to a new audience and increase much needed brand awareness. There are also many legal hurdles for ‘health’ items. For this reason, many CBD companies stick with radio ads, testimonials, or have been seeking new marketing methods.
Influencers are perfect for many of the issues facing CBD companies since you can speak directly to the right audience, in a format that is conducive to explaining something to them and from someone they want to listen to.
It is almost a throwback to the old word of mouth campaigns of the past but can be executed in a highly sophisticated and effective method.
Use multiple channels, influencers, and touchpoints to create an elaborate digital presence with little overhead. Influencer marketing can be incredibly effective for a new CBD brand with personality or with a good market opportunity.
Influencers Reach Specific Demographics
As we touched on before, CBD, like any other product can have issues getting traction in a new target market. The right influencer, however, can quickly change public perception and awareness.
One example is with athletes, pain relief, and the UFC. CBD has long been used for inflammation and recovery for athletes but was not very popular in traditionally masculine sports and circles. The Joe Rogan podcast and UFC athletes casually using CBD for pain relief during post-fight interviews caused a massive upswing of awareness and discussion of the product amongst young males.
While it may seem like you can get a bigger effect by using the most popular social media influencers, the truth is that we are now in the age of micro-influencers.
CBD oil companies do well by using many small influencers with moderate followings – but have a very specific audience (one that is most likely to buy from your brand). Some CBD companies have even used influencers in realms such as dog care to reach their specific target markets.
As long as your product reaches the eyes or ears of potential buyers, the influencer’s specialties are somewhat irrelevant (as long as your customers are their fan).
Influencers Reach Specific Demographics
Typically, deciding what type of influencer marketing strategy you will use will fall somewhere between direct marketing and affiliate marketing. Most use a combination of some type or heavily focus on a single aspect.
Direct marketing is paid messaging that a company wants to put into content in order to reach viewers. This can be prepared statements or signage and is more related to traditional marketing. This category will also include social media platforms and influencers that directly state or clearly read a prepared statement for a company.
Affiliate marketing is a strategy where you give influencers incentives or commissions for each customer they bring to you or sale they make. Affiliate networks effectively bring these influencers into the marketing wing of your CBD business.
While influencers will need to disclose that they are affiliates, they can still market and demonstrate the usage of the product in a much more natural way.
This more friendly approach disarms viewers more readily. Seeing someone actually use and enjoy a product in real time will always be more effective than a canned statement, especially when the person who is demonstrating is a trusted source to their viewers.
Another benefit to affiliate marketing is you can have direct metrics on how effective it has been.
With affiliate links you can see how many customers came from a specific piece of content, and with discount codes you can see how many customers a certain Facebook ad or post brought in.
Both of these methods can give you great feedback on what is working with your target market and what is not.
Reviewing Your Social Media Marketing Posts
Make sure you have a system for reviewing and checking statements that your influencer is making. There is still quite a bit of regulation surrounding health claims in the CBD space and you will want to make sure everything is compliant.
Use posts rather than stories so you can have a greater overview of what is being put out. Also keep in mind the Consumer Review Fairness Act which prohibits you from stopping honest reviews of your products.
Goal Setting and Key Metric Tracking
The major goals for your influencer marketing strategy should be:
1. Brand awareness
2. New customers
3. Positive Sentiment
Once you seem to be going effectively at these goals, make efforts to quantify your ROI. Start to maximize the dollars spent.
Knowing which influencers are helping you, and which are wasting your investment is important to optimization and growth. Use the links to compare results and ROI for comparable audience sizes and begin to establish a good baseline for success.
Social Media Companies and CBD
Currently different social media platforms have different standards regarding what is acceptable to advertise on their platforms. Very often CBD ads will be removed by the site without much of an explanation.
This is another reason that many CBD companies and other health supplement items often turn to affiliate marketing to influencers since this method generally has a degree of separation that the companies find more acceptable, though it is still much of a grey area.
The FDA and FTC
With CBD becoming more prominent, and more companies advertising it, the federal regulatory committees in the United States are showing more interest in explaining and articulating how these items should, and can, be marketed.
The FTC has put out guidelines that apply to endorsements and testimonials to stop a company from pushing false advertisements. These regulations apply to many of the health claims companies put out about CBD. It is also stated that a paid endorsement must be clearly articulated or written somewhere within the content of the post.
The FDA similarly has rules regarding CBD and its usage as a medical and dietary supplement or food additive. FDA currently states that CBD products cannot be marketed as a food or dietary supplements. Medical claims being made about CBD must be approved by the FDA. Luckily the FDA provides a good amount of material on the subject to help you understand what can and cannot be said regarding CBD.
Recently, health claims about CBD being used to treat COVID-19 were prosecuted by the FDA. This case showed that federal agencies are paying much closer attention to CBD companies and reacting on a much faster time scale.
The FDA has a site especially put aside for CBD and is updated along with new regulatory information.
You should check this page often if you are running a CBD marketing campaign. While it is unlikely that major changes are coming within the near future, there is likely to be gradual change towards more or less regulation as more scientific data is released and reviewed.
Be Smart and Plan Ahead
Influencer marketing is relatively young, as is the CBD industry. Proper planning and a quick response to changing needs will be key to your success. Keep tracking metrics, success rates, and exploring new ideas. Give your influencers room to explore and grow, but make sure you are not at risk of breaching legal lines.