CBD Oil Facebook Ads

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This industry is the wild wild west, and you have to understand getting into it is immediately jumping to level 10 expert mode. Diving into specifics about Facebook advertising for CBD brands, dispensaries, and other hemp products. How can you do it properly? CannaPlanners is here to help.

CBD Advertising On Digital Platforms: Navigating Mixed Messages And Confusion

Expertise from Forbes Councils members, operated under license. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Mike Sill is the CEO & Co-Founder of Sunday Scaries, a CBD company with stress relief products.

CBD companies face unique challenges, including a hazy regulatory framework and greater difficulty obtaining financial services. But perhaps the biggest industry hurdle is marketing products while navigating the odd edicts set by digital advertising outlets.

Amazon, Instagram, Google, Facebook and other platforms all have unique rules for advertising CBD. Some companies take an entirely restrictive stance, while others officially put cannabinoid products at arm’s length while still attempting to bring in the industry’s ad dollars.

But I’ve noticed that what most platforms share is a “soft” ban approach that allows CBD companies to put up ads without really identifying who they are and what the product is. And that does a disservice to both their advertisers and users who don’t really know what they’re purchasing.

Confusing Legal Reasons For Ad Confusion

Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC was federally legalized in the U.S. by the 2018 Farm Bill, and the industry has since taken off. Within a year of legalization, a Gallup poll found that one in seven U.S. adults use cannabidiol- (CBD-) based products, and this number has only grown in the past two years.

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Nevertheless, the legal and regulatory environment has been slow to catch up with federal law and consumer preferences. The FDA still hasn’t classified CBD as a dietary supplement, and not all states exactly match federal law, so regulations can vary.

This situation causes many digital platforms to officially ban or restrict CBD ads. But whether it’s due to recognizing federal legality or simply wanting the ad revenue, they still allow CBD companies to advertise. Confusing, right? Let’s look at three platforms with somewhat similar rules but inconsistent enforcement of them.

• Facebook/Meta

The world’s most widely used social media platform still generally classifies CBD as a “drug” or “unsafe substance,” point number five in its list of Prohibited Content. Nevertheless, in 2019, Facebook relaxed the rules a bit. CBD companies could advertise if no mention of “CBD” was in the ad or where it links to, including videos, images and landing pages.

In 2021, Facebook eased its rules further to allow “hemp-based topical products” to proclaim what they are: nothing ingestible. But many sellers of these and other hemp products report that the algorithm still rejects their ads. A Facebook support staffer told the New York Post that it’s because “at times, some content may get detected related to content that has been marked as unsafe.”

Consider the situation these rules create. Companies must hide who they are and rebrand themselves with different landing pages, creative and product labeling. And the Facebook user doesn’t definitively know what they are looking at and possibly buying.

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• Amazon

Amazon’s official policy is very clear: “Listings for products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited.” But as I’ve explained previously, “some sellers get around the ban by simply removing “CBD” from their packaging and listings and putting in alternate keywords.”

Amazon does ban some of the CBD sellers it finds using this workaround, but I’ve observed that many of these companies simply rebrand themselves and pop right back up on the site, using the dubious practice of “brand burning,” or selling the same exact product under a different spun-up label. So, in addition to consumers again not having a clear idea of what they are buying, only the CBD sellers that use deceptive practices have access to the platform.

• Snapchat

A favorite destination of the vital millennial and Gen-Z demographics, Snapchat has some rules similar to Facebook’s, though they’re both less and more restrictive. To its credit, the social media platform is one of the first outlets to allow the use of the letters “CBD.” But its rules include: not showing ingestible products (gummies), not glamorizing the product by showing smiling people in ads, not saying what the product does or featuring any testimonials or reviews from consumers or reputable media outlets.

So, again, Snapchat’s users don’t precisely know what they are purchasing or how to distinguish well-reviewed, quality-controlled products from questionable ones. In addition, CBD companies face inconsistent interpretation and enforcement of the rules, which can spur time-consuming and costly reworks (and re-reworks) of ads to meet shifting requirements.

“Wild West” Advertising Persists In A Maturing Industry

I believe many of these advertising platform issues will evaporate once the FDA allows CBD products to be marketed like dietary supplements and Congress passes some of the pending CBD-friendly bills under consideration. But in the meantime, the status quo isn’t doing anybody any favors.

One thing that CBD owners can do is look to be extremely versatile and concentrate on “frictionless channels.” These are channels that allow CBD, like podcasts, influencer marketing and email marketing. This will save you more time than trying to create a door where there is a wall and prevent you from going crazy while the FDA figures things out.

Another piece of advice is not to forget traditional marketing and the role that brand awareness plays. Out-of-home is an awesome marketing sector, and while you may not see the immediate direct response, the impressions grow over time.

This industry is the wild wild west, and you have to understand getting into it is immediately jumping to level 10 expert mode.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

Can you advertise hemp and CBD on Facebook?

How to Run Facebook Ads for your CBD Brand or Hemp Products

According to an authoritative agency source in the cannabis industry, you can run CBD and hemp product ads on Facebook if you remove all explicit mentions of CBD, hemp, or cannabis from your content. While Facebook’s advertising policies don’t explicitly prohibit hemp or CBD, if you’ve ever tried to run an ad yourself, you know how difficult it can be to get approved. In 2021, Facebook and Instagram have become more lenient, and CBD brands have been able to get away with a lot more.

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So how do I advertise CBD on Facebook?

Your CBD brand can run advertisements on Facebook and Instagram if you’re willing to take a few extra steps. Just like Google, Facebook has bots that crawl the website/app, reading and indexing every single piece of text that gets posted, especially advertisements. The keywords used in your ad and on your website will put you out of play, or keep you in it. *Here are 3 ways to get CBD ads approved:

1. Topical CBD only

Run an ad that leads Facebook users to a landing page where your topical CBD product is sold. You may be able to get away with landing pages that solely feature edible hemp products as well.

2. Get a second domain that doesn’t mention CBD

If you’d like to run an Facebook or IG ad that links to your non-topical CBD product, you can do so by linking to a separate website that does not mention CBD. If you’re going to show images of your product on this second website, make sure CBD is not in the product label either. Mentioning hemp is okay.

3. Promote a blog feature or another website’s review of your product

You don’t have to advertise your own website. You can setup your CBD ad so that it links to a review site or a blog that discusses your CBD oil. You won’t be able to sell products directly on this site, but you can link to your site from this one.

Results may vary

*Keep in mind that there is really no consistency as to whether or not ads get approved and why, so your experience may differ from others. If you set up your advertisement incorrectly, it likely won’t last long and/or won’t be circulated how you want it to be. If you attempt to run a Facebook ad that uses keywords such as “CBD”, “hemp”, or “cannabis”, it probably won’t get approved. And if it does, it won’t be long before Facebook takes it down for violating their terms of service. It’s the unfortunate truth of cannabis social media ads! And don’t even get us started on shadowbanning..

While CBD and hemp are everywhere on the street, in convenience stores, at your local hipster lifestyle brand shop, at your local co-op grocery store ; CBD brands still struggle to live out loud on the internet. The online landscape can feel confusing and loaded with trapdoors. Well, we’re here to lend a hand. We highly recommend developing a long-term SEO strategy and honing in on your brand before you begin your advertising ventures. Shoot us a quick message and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss the ways in which we can assist.

We’re stoked to be charging ahead into 2021, ushering in a new year of greater reach and innovation alongside our clients. Below are 5 more ways you can effectively advertise your CBD brand.

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5 ways to promote CBD online WITHOUT paid ads

1. A Surefire Website

A solid web presence is the most important piece of your online marketing strategy. Your website lays the foundation for all of your other efforts to-come. With that said, you need more than a hastily developed website thrown up on Wix and dripping with spammy ads. You need a website that is fast, easy to use, and easy to find. Easy to find? Yes, that’s right, easily searchable by all internet users from millennial whizzes to their slower-typing boomer parents. A strong SEO strategy will make your website surface closer to the top of Google search results when people are searching for your brand or products.

2. Strong Organic Social Media Presence

Paid ads on social media aside, building an organic social media presence & following is a crucial piece of advertising your CBD brand online. Think we sound like a high school theater coach when we talk about “presence”? Let us break it down. When we say “social media presence,” we mostly mean interaction and engagement. Being “present” on socials means being active: frequent posts, regular updates, daily comments, likes, shares, etc. are all necessary to keeping current on your profile and keeping your brand and your products in front of customers eyes.

4. Leafly & Weedmaps

The yelp of weed is an exceptional way to advertise your CBD company online in 2020. Leafly, and the similar Weedmaps are sites dedicated to cataloging and archiving companies, products, and strains. Make sure your store or strain is listed on both for maximum success. While they offer paid ads, they also feature free business directories that you can get listed on.

5. Email Marketing

Likely already a piece of your web strategy, email marketing can provide what you may be missing (no) thanks to Facebook and Instagram restrictions: regular and data-directed messages directly to your customers. Many email marketing platforms assist you in tailoring messages to certain kinds of customers. You can pick and choose your recipients age, location, interaction pattern, and more. Email newsletters are an especially useful way to run promotions or introduce new products, and they are a fabulous way to build brand voice.

6. Video Marketing

What’s a beautiful website without stunning video? Well, it’s like a holiday dining table set in fine china but missing the food. Video is the most compelling way to market today. It’s a storytelling medium that grabs eyes, hearts, and ears, and lures them all in closer to the core of your message. Often, once companies invest in video, they start to see the payoff in views and engagement right away. Check out the article we did on Video marketing a while back.

Need to talk to someone about the digital marketing plan for your CBD/Cannabis company? Fill out the form below and someone will reach out to you!

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