5 Ways to Grow an Online Community that Catapults your Cannabis Brand

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Building a Cannabis Industry brand doesn’t have to sidetrack you from your other business goals. Thanks to the internet, there are ways to do it fast and without exhausting all your resources. The key is to turn your website into a place that people find and begin to trust because it helps them meet their needs. Whether you’re a product manufacturer, dispensary, or any other consumer-centric organization in the cannabis industry, building a loyal community on your website can increase your brand reach rapidly.

Here are 5 ways you can leverage an online community to quickly expand your brand reach right from your website.


1) Publish an educational blog.


If a prospective patient goes online to look at two dispensaries on the same block and finds out that both have the same Yelp score, they might go with the one that has the cheaper products. ?
But what if that same person instead went online and Googled, “Why CBD oils may be right for me,” What if the article they found was helpful and and resided on one of those dispensary websites? This would begin to establish a trust between that person and the dispensary which published the article. Trust is a lot more personal than a bargain.   
        
By blogging about the topics your patients are interested in learning about, you can drive new prospects to your website and build trust around your brand before visitors even get a chance to think about price comparisons. Blogging also lets you discover what people are most interested in and provides a way to connect with influencers who are interested in promoting and sharing that topic with more people.  


2) Encourage discussion.

    

Its no secret that customer service is important when it comes to brand image, but as nice as it would be to offer more extensive consumer service, you’ve got bigger priorities than turning your company into an expensive support center.

Having said that, are you ever surprised at how many of your patients may know more about the products you make or carry than even your own staff? If you think that’s a bad thing, you’re probably missing out on one of the easiest ways to build customer loyalty. Why? A good discussion forum engages your customers by allowing them to help each other out while you moderate.


"Its no secret that customer service is important when it comes to brand image"


3) Give your events their own web pages.


While holding an event or a booth at a convention or cannabis cup, can be a great way to peak people’s interests and maybe even leave a lasting impression that they will hopefully tell others about, it can often be be a lot of work to put together for the kind of return you’ll get.

On the other hand, by creating an event page that exists on your website, you can engage people before and after the event takes place, you can reinforce the emotional connections consumers felt at the live event, and foster an even stronger connection with the attendees of invitation-only events.


4. Start hosting media.

If your website is completely static, there is no way for anyone to interact with your brand, but if you make it a place where people can watch videos, see pictures, or listen to podcasts, you’re providing something that adds value to your website and helps create a brand experience.

5. Think of social media as a way to drive community to your website.


Does your dispensary or primary cannabis product line make use of mainstream social media? If so, how often has your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account been shut down? Moreover, do you really know how effectively social media drives people to your site or causes them to make actual purchase decisions?

So here’s the thing. Social media can be a very powerful tool for the cannabis industry if used properly.
The idea is to use social media channels primarily as a way to drive people to the content on your site. That means you avoid creating the content specifically for the social media channel. You create it for your website and tailor the message for social media. That way, its less of a concern when one of the channels does get shut-down. For example, if most of your articles, pictures, and discussions exist on Facebook, and Facebook suddenly shuts down your account without warning, you’ve lost a lot of content and maybe a great community. By flipping the strategy around so that all of that content instead resides on your site, then you are only relying on Facebook as a communication tool that attracts people to your site, so if that account gets shut down, you still have all the content on your site, and can quickly rebuild a new Facebook account when you get the chance.


"Social media can be a very powerful tool for the cannabis industry if used properly"


Notice something similar about each of these activities? They all encourage conversation, can be used to leverage one another, and provide a way for you to listen to your customers to learn what keeps them engaged.

These methods also provide an organic way to expand the cannabis marketplace and reach people that can’t be reached through ad networks or cannabis-specific communities. There is a huge potential market out there for the cannabis industry that hasn’t yet been reached. If you start to use these techniques now, you can open that market and build brand loyalty, before the industry becomes commoditized.

Embracing community to empower your brand is more than an efficient way to differentiate your business. It is a way to lower marketing costs and provides all kinds of ideas that will help you grow your business in ways that your competitors wouldn’t dream of.

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About the author: Jordan S.

Jordan is a Partner and Co-Founder of the HerbalEngine Platform. You can reach him at jordan@herbalengine.com.