People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.
Instagram’s powerful storytelling components give you the ability to make customers loyal before a purchase has been made. If you can tell a powerful story in fewer than 87 characters (the caption limit), along with a photo that matches and elevates the storytelling component, you’ll win at Instagram in this fast growing cannabis industry.
How to get seen on Instagram
It’s no secret that people are seeing the effects of the Instagram algorithm on their visibility in the news feed. It’s more important to build an audience of the right kind of followers for your company than to collect followers just to increase your numbers.
Visibility in the news feed comes from having engaged followers who care about your cannabis business, leave comments and likes, tag their friends and share your posts. An account with a lot of followers who aren’t engaged won’t be indexed high by the algorithm. This results in fewer people seeing that account’s posts, which then results in fewer people liking and commenting.
So, all things being equal, if one account has 200 followers and another has 2,000 followers, and each account routinely gets 20 likes and two comments, the account with fewer followers is more likely to be seen because it’s perceived as more relevant.
To build an audience of the right followers, I suggest creating an ideal client profile. Figure out where your ideal client is on Instagram and why. Then figure out how to serve the people who follow you. Creating value will nurture and grow your audience, as will engaging with current followers.
I won’t switch to an Instagram business account. While Instagram business accounts do offer accessibility to analytics, I have a workaround for getting analytics with a personal account: create an Instagram ad through Facebook and you’re eligible to get your Instagram account analytics without changing it to a business account.
Creating a sales presence on Instagram
With your profile, you basically have 15 seconds to tell people what you’re about and to let them know they’re seen, felt, and heard. That’s the inception of the sales process on Instagram.
You also need to pay attention to images. Studies have shown the photos that perform best on Instagram are naturally lit and have colors with a distinct hue (your eye goes to one color in the frame).
For our industry, dark photos, collages, or photos with too much writing don’t perform well, and “shares” of photos in which two or three people have their arms around each other and are looking directly at the camera will get a lot more reactions and be perceived as more relevant on Instagram – which is odd for this industry, I know. But you have to make it work.
Instagram limits their usage to 30 per post. I encourage cannabis entrepreneurs to use all 30 hashtags, but also be strategic, because not all hashtags are created equal. If there are a lot of people using a popular hashtag, for example, the chance that your image will be seen in a search is minimal.
Instead, I recommend diversifying the breakdown of hashtags to attract your ideal customer. Use five popular hashtags and five that pertain to your geographic region. Then use the balance to relate specifically to your cannabis business. For instance, if you have a dispensary, use dispensary hashtags.
When it comes to the recommended ratio of regular posts to promotional posts, I think that the ratio depends on the product line and its price point. For a small-ticket item, a ratio of three “gives” to one “ask” works really well on Instagram.
The number of posts per day really depends on what works for your audience. I follow Instagrammers who post four times a day. But if I posted four times a day, it would drive my followers crazy. For my business and ideal client, consistently posting once a day, every day, has been my goldmine (Insta specific).
How to ask for the sale
It’s best to sell on Instagram by way of value, either through solving a problem or making someone’s life easier.
When I create an ad on Instagram, my call to action isn’t “buy my cannabis marketing course,” even though that ultimately is my message. Instead, I ask people if they’re trying to make a sale on Instagram, or if they’re tired of not being noticed on Instagram, and would like to have more conversations on the platform. Then I offer my course as the solution to their Instagram challenges.
Just be creative. You have to show you care about the community before you can be self-promotional.