Updated: Feb 25
If you're reading this, then you know that social media is taking over the world, and it scares you. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are considered three of the biggest social media platforms in regards to popularity and usage. However, when it comes to marketing with something like Instagram, it can be very difficult to understand how to make your photo reel look good and keep people engaged.
Actually, engagement is one of the more challenging aspects of Instagram. A photo is only viewed for a matter of seconds before your audience swipes to the next one. This is why video production is taking on a whole new importance in the cannabis industry right now. Not only are we using video for promotion but also for converting followers into customers by telling stories that are engaging people for longer periods of time.
This article is intended to help cannabis companies take better control of their social media presence and dramatically improve their marketing campaigns through Instagram. And there’s no better way to do that right now than with Reels.
Why Is Instagram Such A Challenge For Cannabis Businesses?
Making a dope Instagram page is challenging. You have to have that perfect ratio of photos, a super catchy bio, and lots of time to engage with your followers. Sounds like a lot, right? I know we're talking about a social media platform made for the people — but still, you can't be unprofessional or lose your creative spark when you're trying to get your cannabis products seen by your potential customers.
Instagram, like many other social media platforms, has an ambiguous approach to cannabis content. If your business isn't outright banned, it is likely to be shadow banned, which is when your account is still viewable by users, but your posts don't show up in the search function or hashtags they use. This can be a real problem for those relying on Instagram to promote their business and products.
Fortunately for cannabis businesses, Instagrammers are a resourceful bunch. They have found a way to work around this ban (until Instagram finds out and changes something). This can be time-consuming and difficult to navigate without outside help, but it is possible with a little bit of creativity and consistent effort.
Why Instagram Engagement Is Becoming More And More Challenging
Does it seem like your account is getting fewer likes, comments, and follows recently? News flash: it’s not just cannabis businesses. We’ve all seen it and the truth is that engagement on Instagram is down for everyone. What does this mean for cannabis brands? It means the competition is just that much more fierce, and that you’re going to have to come up with new strategies to get noticed.
Here are some of the main reasons why engagement is down for everyone on Instagram:
Instagram is removing fake accounts. This one is a biggie. If you have a huge following but your follower count keeps dropping, there’s a good chance that many of your followers were fake — either bot accounts or users who never intended to engage with your content in the first place.
The algorithm has changed. Instagram made changes to its algorithm so that posts from friends and family are more prominent than posts from brands — meaning fewer eyeballs on your posts unless you pay for advertising (not an option for most cannabis businesses) or consistently put out high-quality content that people want to see.
There are more businesses on Instagram than ever before. With over 25 million businesses on Instagram, it’s tougher than ever for small and medium-sized cannabis businesses to stand out and engage their audience.
Why Instagram Reels Are So Important Right Now For Engagement And Reach
And there’s one other big reason engagement on your regular posts and stories are down at the moment: Instagram is leaning heavily into their Reels function (to snatch away Tik Tok’s core audience much the same way they drove Snapchat into irrelevance by introducing—some might say plagiarizing—the Stories feature). The good news is Reels offers cannabis companies a huge opportunity to get noticed right now.
Why? Because Reels is brand new, and Instagram wants to make it a thing. To entice more users to adopt the format and make more of them, Instagram is showing Reels in highly visible spots around the app, including the Explore tab. It even recently expanded the space it’s giving to Reels in the Explore tab so that they can be seen without scrolling. And if you think this is going away once Tik Tok’s future in the U.S. becomes less uncertain than it currently is, you’re kidding yourself.
What Type Of Content Works Best On Reels
Instagram Reels are a great way to share short videos with your followers. They can be used to promote your products or services, or to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your company.
The best type of content for Instagram Reels is short, engaging videos that capture your followers' attention. You can also use them to show off your company's culture and values. Humor also works well on Instagram Reels, so be sure to add some lighthearted videos to your reel.
You should spend some time getting to know what your competitors are already doing on Reels. What's working for them and how can you emulate it, or better yet, surpass it. One popular type of content for cannabis businesses are quick, behind-the-scenes looks at what goes on in your office or a sneak peak at a new product or service that you are offering. Another great option is to use Instagram Reels to share customer testimonials.
Whatever you do, we highly recommend showcasing your facilities, product, and team in such a way that you will stand out from your competitors and give your customers a reason to keep coming back.
How To Prevent Your Instagram Account From Being Taken Down
Cannabis content is being removed from Instagram on an almost daily basis. If you're not careful, your account could be next. Here are a few tips to help keep your account safe:
Don’t show cannabis consumption. Not only will this be more likely to get you booted, but it’s against the law in many states if you are a cannabis license holder.
Make sure all of your posts are appropriate for a general audience.
Don't post any inflammatory or derogatory comments.
Use hashtags sparingly, and don't use banned hashtags that are related to cannabis.
We have an in depth article already up on our site that goes over all the things your business can do to avoid the dreaded Instagram timeout. Check it out here.
Video Tips And Tricks To Make Your Reels More Popular
Whether or not your business has an existing TikTok account, using Reels is a great way to expand your audience on a different platform while also increasing engagement on Instagram. One of the best things about Reels is that you can use it as an opportunity to be funny and quirky instead of overly promotional. Even if you don't have the time or resources to invest in professional video editing equipment and software for your own content, there's still plenty of fun you can have with this feature.
That being said, you can’t post videos that look or sound bad. Not only will this be bad for your cannabis brand, but Instagram announced that they are deprioritizing videos with low picture quality (blurry or low resolution). This doesn’t mean you need a professional cinema camera, an iPhone or Android phone from the last couple of years offers amazing quality, but you will want to follow some best practices.
If you’re filming yourself or your team, make sure that you have proper lighting. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is with a quality ring light. These are extremely affordable and they do wonders for the subject you are filming.
Another essential aspect of a successful Instagram Reel is effective editing. Whether you are cutting to the music or setting up a funny contrast, fast, dynamic edits will ensure that your Reel gets seen by more people. If you are new to editing, check out a tutorial on how to excel with the Reels interface (Here’s an example).
There’s also all of the special effects and text tools that Instagram offers. While overusing these effects can sometimes be annoying, there’s no doubt that you can use the text to caption your videos and communicate more information to your viewers than with just video. Don’t be afraid to play around and experiment.
How To Use Copyright Protected Music In Instagram Reels
Of course, one of the best features of Instagram Reels is the ability to use copyrighted music. With full access to this feature, you can legally use music from some of your favorite artists, including The Beatles and Taylor Swift (both notorious for closely guarding their music from free access).
Here are the instructions you need to follow to use copyrighted music in your Instagram Reel:
Step 1: Search for the song you want to use in your video.
Step 2: Click on the three dots on the right side of the song.
Step 3: Click on Use this song option on the pop-up menu which will appear after clicking on three dots.
Step 4: Now, start recording your video by pressing record button on the bottom left corner of your screen.
Step 5: After recording, click on the timer icon to set a timer for your video so that it plays in loop.
Step 6: Now add some effects to make your video even more interesting. You can add any effect from thousands of available effects according to your choice and interest.
If you’re trying to use the music feature and you aren’t finding music from popular artists, it probably means you have a business account. Instagram will strictly limit access to music in business accounts, and so you’ll have to find a work around or use a personal account.
Your Social Media Presence Is An Extension Of Your Brand
Cannabis companies need to remember that everything they post on social media is a reflection of who they are as a company. Have fun and don't be too conservative, but steer away from controversy or content that is too low quality or too low brow.
It's a common misconception that cannabis brands must be "fun" and "edgy." That is not true — they can be anything they want. But if you are going to post content that markets your brand in a fun, lighthearted, high-concept way, then it needs to be well thought out, on brand, and high quality.
For example, posting a grainy photo of your CEO smoking with Snoop Dogg at the Cannabis Cup does not showcase your company in a positive light. It makes you look amateurish (and probably unprofessional).
Cannabis companies should think about their target audience and what kind of content would appeal to them. Tap into pop culture trends, news stories, and other topics your followers will find interesting. Use your company’s voice to inject humor or cleverness into conversations that are trending in the cannabis industry. This is just as true for Reels as it is for any other social media platform. Yes, the content you post on LinkedIn might vary greatly from your Instagram Reels, but they both should be telling the same story about your cannabis business.
Partner With The Cannabis Social Media And Branding Experts At The Hood Collective
Social media content, in particular Instagram Reels, doesn't need to have Hollywood-level production to succeed. But it certainly helps to partner with a social media management team that understands both the cannabis industry and the latest in social media. The Hood Collective is ready to help your cannabis business stand out from the crowd.
We offer affordable, fully-tailored content and management solutions that fit any marketing budget. If you need help producing high quality Instagram Reels or any other aspect of social media and digital marketing, don't hesitate to reach out.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.