How to Work with Cannabis Influencers on Instagram
Have you noticed a significant drop in your engagement on Instagram?
You’re not alone.
Instagram’s algorithms are increasingly limiting the reach of organic content.
Add in the fact cannabis brands are prohibited from using paid advertising options – what’s a bootstrapped cannabis entrepreneur to do?
One highly effective option is working with cannabis influencers.
Influencer marketing has become a key tactic for brand building, in and outside of the industry. The right influencer marketing campaign improves your brand’s awareness, increases your following through targeted reach, and develops strategic partnerships.
Cannabis companies are finding that working with influencers is leading to big results.
After all, why try to work within a system that is against you when you can collaborate with other creatives in the community?
It only makes sense for cannabis brands to invest in influencer marketing.
Are you interested in working with influencers?
In this article, I’ll break down what you need to know about influencer marketing for cannabis bands.
What is an Influencer?
Influencers are people who have cultivated a targeted, loyal, and engaged community in a particular niche.
Within the cannabis industry, you’ll find many different types of influencers. Here’s a quick glance to give you a better idea:
Influencers are trusted sources with the power to persuade others. Keep in mind we’re not talking about celebrities here!
While it's easy to assume influencers must have million of followers, that's not reality.
In fact, a study from Collective Bias revealed 30% of consumers would purchase a product recommended by a blogger while only 3% of consumers would consider purchasing from a celebrity.
Let that one sink in…
The quality of someone’s following and the trust they have with their audience is far more important than size.
Why Work with Cannabis Influencers on Instagram?
Working with the right influencers has the potential to skyrocket your growth.
Influencer marketing also happens to be one of the most effective ways for cannabis businesses to overcome the multiple advertising barriers faced in this space.
While influencers exist on every social media platform, Instagram stands out as one of the most valuable outlets.
Believe it or not, Instagram actually has the highest engagement rate out of all social media channels. (3.21% in comparison to 1.5% if we want to get specific here)
The real question is though – how do you know which cannabis influencers you should work with?
How to find the right influencers for your cannabis brand
Before contacting influencers - you need to define clear goals. What are you looking to achieve?
Build brand awareness
Increase your following
Generate more sales
Chances are, you probably have more than one goal. But in order to have a successful marketing campaign, you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. The more specific you are - the better.
Here's an example:
Increase 200mg hemp CBD topical sales by 30% within 30 days by partnering with at least 3 industry influencers
The main key here is to make your goal specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. AKA SMART goals. An acronym first coined in a November 1981 issue of Management Review, SMART goals are all about making your vision a reality.
I recommend setting at least 3 goals before reaching out to influencers. Clearly outlining your objectives will help you partner with the right people.
Now, a word to the wise, it is easy today to go buy followers and likes. You need to be discerning about whom you’re aligning your business with.
How can you determine authentic influencers from fake ones?
Number one - trust you gut.
Number two - 4 important questions to consider:
#1 Who is their core audience?
Influencer marketing is most effective when it is strategic. There are a lot of influencers out there. You need to determine the most valuable partnerships for your business. That starts by looking at an influencer’s audience:
What types of accounts are following them?
Who are their most engaged followers?
Where are their followers located?
Is their growth steady?
You want to be confident your content will be getting in front of the right eyes. Answering these questions will help you better assess if an influencer’s following aligns with your business.
*Bonus TIP: A quick way to determine if a following is real or not is by looking at the quality of followers. If you notice a bunch of accounts with:
Empty profile pictures
Usernames full of numbers (ex: @dnjklop22486)
This a very good chance these followers are fake bots. Now, big accounts do attract spam. But this should be minimal in comparison to their overall following.
#2 What is the quality of their content?
The type of posts someone shares tells you a lot about their account. For example, are they sharing thoughtful, timely, and informative posts? Or are they bombarding their audience with spammy content and low engagement posts?
Here are a few key questions to consider to better gauge the quality of an influencer’s feed:
What is the tone, style, and aesthetics of their posts? (Are these in line with your values, mission, and goals?)
Are their images high-quality?
Do their posts include meaningful captions?
Is their audience responsive?
It’s important to do your homework before working with influencers.
It is better (and more cost-effective) to partner with someone with 10,000 real, engaged followers that could actually benefit from your product or service than someone with 100,000 followers that aren’t honestly interested in what you have to offer.
The real takeaway here?
Take the time to look through an influencer’s feed to make sure they’re the right fit for your brand.
#3 How old is their account?
How long an influencer has been active on Instagram gives you an idea of the integrity of their account.
Yes, viral sensations do happen. But they are few and far in-between.
No matter which way you slice it; building an Instagram community doesn’t happen overnight. The reality is that it often takes someone years of hard work to become an influencer.
Often, this work is free in the beginning.
I can tell you this from personal experience.
I waited over a year to start monetizing Women of Cannabiz. When I wasn’t working on my freelance cannabis writing projects, I was creating and sharing free content.
This required patience, passion, and focus.
I know these words ring true for many influencers - regardless of their niche.
While you can buy thousands or even millions of followers, that doesn’t mean their real.
Why waste your money on a fake following?
An authentic influencer has history. You can go to their account and see the progression. Unless someone is a celebrity or a well-known figure, they don’t start off on Instagram with thousands of likes.
Good things take time; becoming an Instagram influencer is no exception.
#4 How much of their content is sponsored?
Is an influencer sharing a lot of sponsored content?
On one hand you may see this is a good sign because they’re open to working with cannabis brands. On the other hand, too much sponsored content signals minimal reach.
You want to work with influencers who are discerning.
Otherwise, you really have to question the trust factor.
If someone is willing to work with any brand that comes along, this is dubious at best. Authentic Instagram influencers build their following over time.
Influencers with integrity are selective in how much of their content is sponsored.
They care deeply about their audience and vision. Therefore, they only work with companies who they genuinely stand by.
Now, there is no magic number for sponsored content.
You will find large influencers with no sponsored content and others with a lot. The main key is to look at the authenticity behind the posts and their audience’s reaction.
Are people excited about what they’re sharing or turned off?
The higher the engagement, the stronger the relationship an influencer has with their audience.
Should Instagram Influencer Marketing Cost Money?
There’s no question influencer marketing is valuable for cannabis brands. But should you actually pay for promotion?
If an Instagram influencer is legit - they’ve put time, love, and energy into growing their community. Even if your product or service is the best thing since sliced bread, no one owes you anything. Straight up.
Imagine the number of requests a huge account gets in a single day.
I can tell it is A LOT.
For larger influencers, free products alone are often not going to cut it. They get these kinds of offers on the daily. You need to come with something else to the table.
What’s a fair rate to pay?
Prices vary greatly. There are a lot of factors that go into determining what someone may charge. I cannot give you a standard rate.
I do know of a handy tool that can help:
With this tool, you can search for Instagram users and find out key info like their engagement rate and estimated earnings per post.
Now, it’s important to mention these numbers do not represent what an Instagram influencer actually charges. You will need to contact influencers directly for their real price.
Regardless, it does give you a better idea of what to expect.
This calculator is also helpful for comparing influencers if you’re not sure what option is best for your business.
How to Contact Cannabis Influencers
Reaching out directly on Instagram is one of the best ways to contact cannabis influencers.
Keep in mind though that if you send someone a DM, unless they’re following you, your message will not show up in their main inbox but under “Other” messages.
Messages can easily fall into oblivion here. Hence why it can be so hard to get in touch. (speaking from personal experience here – if you’ve tried getting in contact with me on Instagram and I haven’t responded, please email me at Rachel@womenofcannabiz.com)
Therefore, I think you’re better off emailing influencers if they’re not following you.
However, whether you’re sending a DM or email, there are some important steps you can take to maximize the impact of your pitch:
Personalize Your Message - DO NOT JUST COPY AND PASTE. Show you’ve done your homework. Influencers get lots of pitches. Let them know you’ve taken the time to understand what they’re doing and how your product or service could benefit them and their audience.
Keep it Brief - There’s no need to write a novel. If your message is too long, it's headed straight to junk mail. Clearly and succinctly state your message.
Offer real value - Popular influencers get offers all of the time. What unique incentive can you provide them that will also make your brand shine?
Slow and steady wins the race!
Influencers can take a while to respond. Or, they may even initially say no. But persistence pays off.
And once you’ve worked with an influencer, don’t forget to track your results. I recommend using a unique URL with a tool like Bitly for each campaign.
This way, you can easily track your results.
do you want to work with a cannabis influencer?
The value of cannabis influencer marketing is clear.
If you’ve been thinking it’s time to put yourself out there, I highly recommend checking out the promotional opportunities available on Women of Cannabiz.
I can say with 100% confidence - these promotional opportunities will take your cannabiz to the next level.
Where else can you share your story, promote your business, and access educational materials all while uplifting thousands of women around the world?
Alright, I might be a bit biased.
You don’t just have to take my word for it. Just check out what women are saying about Women of Cannabiz.
Have a question?
Let’s chat! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
AUTHOR: RACHEL GARLAND
Rachel Garland is the founder of Women of Cannabiz. Passionate about cannabis, entrepreneurship, and remote work – she launched WomenofCannabiz.com to elevate women worldwide. Her mission is to help women find where passion and purpose can align to manifest their visions to reality. When she isn’t interviewing cool cannabis women or sharing how to grow your cannabiz online, you can find her anywhere with palm trees and warm beaches.