If you are in the cannabis business, be prepared to be frustrated by social media. I should know. I’ve been involved in social media for 15 years, and have been focused exclusively in the cannabis industry for the past five years.
Here’s a recent incident I was involved with and, fortunately, resolved successfully. It’s very possible that something like this is going to happen with you — if it hasn’t already — so here is how to deal with seeing one of your social media accounts taken down.
I have never not followed the rules on social networks, because I have always been of the mindset that my clients are paying me (and my bills!) to follow the rules, regardless of industry.
The client I have had the longest in the industry, over 3 years, is a small dispensary. We are a medicinally-oriented state, so all of the content I put out there is medically-leaning.
The Instagram account has been shut down twice. The first one never came back, despite weeks of appeals. I still haven’t heard anything and it was in March 2018.
The account was shut down a few weeks ago, right as I was being interviewed by MJBizDaily about this very subject. Knowing the appeals process, I filed several and got an email the next day that is was back. Phew. Nothing worse than being outspoken about social media compliance, and having to deal with this mess.
The problem is that Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) are reactive. All it takes is a rival dispensary budtender or former employee to go to a profile and report it. Instead of having a review process (or, hiring enough people to do so which seems like a no-brainer, right?), they react immediately by suspending – or deleting – the account.
Here’s where it gets messy and frustrating and, frankly, a pain in the ass.
An Instagram Business Account has to be connected to a Facebook Page. When an Instagram account is disabled or deleted, the connection with the Facebook Page is lost.
When you get the account back or create a new one, you have to re-link it to the Facebook Page. But guess what? You can’t. It just doesn’t happen, no matter how many times you try or log out and back in or whatever other strategy you are trying to do the best for your clients.
So, without being able to connect the Instagram account to a Facebook Page, another Page has to be set up. This one will remain blank, though, since the original Facebook Page is still up. (Confusing, right? It took an entire day for me to come up with a solution!)
Now you have a “dummy Page” on Facebook, just to do your job on Instagram. And hope that nobody finds it and expects content because you’re still doing that on the original Page.
Also, there are apps to use to schedule Instagram posts. Now, when an account gets deleted or disabled, you have to re-authenticate EVERY connection the disabled account lost. And, again, to the Facebook Page.
More work. For something you didn’t anticipate because you follow the rules.
And yet, the industry lies down and takes it. They start a new account if they can’t get the old one back. This means they are starting from scratch and have to get followers again. After awhile, people will stop finding you because you have to change your handle every time this happens.
It’s unfair for cannabis companies who are compliant on social media to be penalized for extended periods of time, waiting for the appeals process.
It’s preposterous that legitimate companies with real employees and great products cannot brand themselves and their products on these 2 networks, when other industries get open doors.