"TikTok Is a Dead end I wouldn't pursue it"
I heard those words from my CMO upon being hired and I took it as a personal challenge. Call me a rebel but I don't like to leave something untouched just because someone else hasn't found a way to do it. I think the spirit of cannabis in the United States is bending the rules a bit. TikTok has different rules than Instagram and Youtube, let's figure them out and work within them. While we couldn't outright say, "HEY BUY OUR CANNABIS" there were other ways to build brand awareness.
I had some success with it and after some hard-learned lessons with dummy accounts that got taken down, we were able to get over a million views in less than a year on the platform. While working for the brand I found some ways to stay within the cannabis community on TikTok and not get in trouble. Here are some tips I found that work.
Avoid using the words "cannabis" and "marijuana" in the text.
I found that anytime we would use the words cannabis or marijuana in the text it would get banned. The brand I worked for used a weekly news format on Instagram and Youtube to stay in the zeitgeist, however, these videos were getting pulled immediately off of TikTok. Instead of using the words cannabis and marijuana, I would utilize words our grandparents and parents used to describe them.
An example of euphemistic language, I would even refer to it as, "the plant" or use emojis to convey the message. While I would love to make a video that is straightforward and as Weedmaps "broccoli" video so accurately portrayed, social media should acknowledge that marijuana is marijuana. However, working within the confines you are able to find #cannatok with your content without using the verbiage. An example of this would be
Avoid showing the plant and paraphernalia
This was one that might seem obvious but it's easy to make this mistake. Raw's Founder does a good job of showing pretzels and talking about them from a distanced perspective and utilizes euphemisms well. I think what he does is brilliant. I found out the hard way when I got a video taken down because of a fake plant in my hands. We even had an educational video on a different account get taken down because it showed "Brick weed." It was meant to show how border patrol seized plants hidden in wheels. It was almost at 100,000 views.
Avoid showing paraphernalia too. Paraphernalia can include bowls, bongs, and anything related to it. if you want to show how to roll you could probably get away with but you could also do it creatively with a burrito roll as well. The censorship is an absolute pain but it does give way to utilize your creativity.
Utilize Personal Experiences
If you are a smoker or if you use cannabis this one is great because you might have more insight into different products. Specificity in your use can often be more relatable than you would think. If you have problems with a plastic grinder and love using metal grinders, use that experience for content. If you have been arrested for cannabis and you are comfortable talking about that experience, do so. If you have ever smoked with someon who has blown the bowl, use that experience as well. Without going on a tangent, the point is to draw from your own personal experience.
I don't consume cannabis regularly and if anything it is highly rare for me to try it. You might even be questioning why I would even want to make cannabis content. Long story short, I've worked in the industry or been around it as a Coloradoan for almost a decade. I've had enough experience to make sizeable content and I could continue to do so. The point is to not doubt your experiences even if you're not an expert.
While cannabis use is just not for me I was able to use experiences from using it as well as from experiences of people I've talked to. One example of content doing very well was my experience in the D.A.R.E. program as a kid. I was able to use my experiences and perspective to make something creative that ultimately landed at 674,000 views as of writing this.
If you can teach people things with your content that is what is most valuable. It could be anything from how to smoke out of a bowl, how to use and roll a joint and it could even be about what CBD is. If you can explain it simply enough so that someone who has never had any interest or knowledge of cannabis can learn then you are doing something right.
I'll use an example from RAW's Founder Josh. He used incense to show how to smoke out of a window so that the smell doesn't stay in the home. He also showed how to get smoke out of a car. This type of content is perfect for a sneaky smoker of all ages.
These types of videos are related to everyday life. It's the everyday problems that people want to see and interact with. People like myself enjoy learning new things as well. The platform has been great for learning visually. I would say it rivals Youtube as a "how-to" search engine.
Use Trending Audios
If Taylor Swift comes out with a new album use one of her songs with some content!
Tiktok is a sound platform and very much "monkey see, monkey do." Trends come and go like lightning on the platform and if you can catch a trending sound that fits into your niche then you might just have something on your hands. If you can stay on top of that then you have a good chance of getting your content seen by a number of people and an even better chance of being consistent. TikTok developed a reputation as a teenager dancing app, but you don't have to adhere to that. I believe its reputation as a marketing tool is becoming more legitimate.
Tell Us Your Thoughts
That's what I've found that worked for me to hit some marketing goals and some KPI's. Let me know if I missed anything or if you've found other ways to gain momentum on TikTok in the cannabis space. If you're looking for content & content strategy for your brand or account feel free to message me anywhere, I answer emails and direct messages.