Elizabeth Thorp

 

Okay, it’s official – CBD-infused goods are more than a novelty item these days. If you’re looking for it, you can find CBD in just about everything: shampoos, moisturizers, chocolate, coffee, olive oil, vapes, and even pet treats. And with the national grocery store brand, Kroger set to sell CBD products in over 1000 stores; it isn’t a millennial cliche anymore. So why is it so difficult to advertise CBD on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms?

A budding industry

A 2019 study revealed that while 40 percent of people in their 20s have used CBD, so have 15 percent of people aged 60 and older. That’s pretty impressive when you realize 64 million Americans have tried CBD. With a forecast estimated to reach $20 billion by 2024 (over 700% growth), it’s no wonder entrepreneurs want a piece of that pie.

What’s the most popular way to sell CBD? You guessed it – online. Internet sales are thought to be the leading CBD sales channel, with 60% of the market. However, many CBD business owners have voiced their frustrations and concerns when it comes to trying to advertise CBD on Facebook and Instagram. In this article, we’ll talk about the growth of the CBD industry, the legality of CBD, and how CBD entrepreneurs can promote their product. 

The healing compound

CBD or cannabidiol is one of 113 compounds identified in the cannabis plant, and the most valuable. Although CBD is also synthetically produced, it is uncertain whether it works better on its own or with other cannabis compounds. However, one thing is undeniable, and that is its positive effects on both humans and pets. 

Unlike THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive (meaning it can’t get you high). Many people describe CBD as the “good” cannabinoid, for it’s potential to treat a wide range of symptoms and illnesses. Proponents of CBD have noted its effectiveness in treating epilepsy, chronic pain, inflammation, PTSD, anxiety, depression, arthritis, psychosis, and even chronic additions. While academic research centers, like the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and the University of California San Diego, are taking a closer look at CBD for its potential anti-cancer properties. 

CBD market potential

The full potential of the CBD industry is far-reaching, which explains its surge in market popularity. Not fully convinced? Just take a look at the following statistics.

  • Over 14% of Americans actively use CBD products. (Gallup)
  • 75% of CBD brands are founded or managed by women. (Green Entrepreneur)
  • The CBD market size is soaring at 34.7% CAGR. (Market Watch)
  • The demand for skilled workers in the cannabis industry rose by 76%. (CNBC)
  • 40% of Americans are interested in trying CBD. (PRNewswire)
  • A cannabis worker earns more than an average American. (Fortune)
  • In the US, the availability of CBD increased by 80% in 2018. (Direct Selling News)

Facebook: Treating CBD like the contraband it isn’t

As you can see, we’ve come a long way from total cannabis prohibition, or so it seems. As more states move toward marijuana decriminalization and regulation, legal CBD business owners continue to grapple with strict advertising policies.

Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), are some of the most active adversaries of the measure. Business owners who have attempted to advertise on the 1.5 billion daily active member platform, have found that Facebook still treats CBD like the contraband it isn’t.

Those who even mention anything in their ad-related to CBD will find their advertisement rejected, their account shut down, and potentially banned from the platform for not adhering to Facebook’s terms and conditions. The tricky part is that Facebook’s policies and ad creation classes do not specifically mention CBD oil. Marijuana – yes. Alcohol – yes. Other things like that. But CBD oil is not THC. So why is it treated that way?

But why?

Some would argue that native advertising is the future of display advertising. Although display advertising has its place, some marketers are choosing the newer form. Both ad types are similar, except for one key difference and advantage. Native ads are designed to flow with content as though the publisher intentionally placed them there. If it were not for a distinctive clue as to what makes them an ad, they would go undetected as being one. Clues such as “sponsored content” are what give away their identity.

How can an ad that doesn’t look like an ad be effective? The truth is, native ads get clicked on 58% more than traditional display ads. The reason they have become so popular among marketers and audiences is that they don’t appear as ads. Ad blindness is a term to describe what site viewers experience after constant exposure to advertisements online. They become accustomed to being advertised to. A viewer goes into autopilot and ignores most ads as they browse a site.

CBD advertising can benefit from blending in with content related to health topics or general knowledge about the effects of consumption. The idea is to capture an already engaged audience while they are on a site. Programmatic advertising relies on contextual reasoning to place ads on relevant websites. By this logic, it makes sense for a CBD brand to be within content related to CBD topics.

Navigating CBD regulations 

Overall, the 2018 Farm Bill was considered a “win” for proponents of cannabis, but it doesn’t mean that CBD businesses are in the clear. While the bill makes it easier for hemp cultivators to grow and offer CBD products, the stance on CBD infused food isn’t quite as clear.

Ask the FDA or DEA if CBD is allowed food, beverages, and supplements, and you’ll likely receive a resounding NO. If you ask the slew of companies that are selling everything from CBD-infused smoothies and supplements, their answer would be yes. So what’s going on?

FDA does not permit the sale of CBD-infused food

The FDA addresses the issue in the regulation of cannabis and CBD on the Q&A portion of their site. Updated as recently as September 30, 2019, the FDA states that while they recognize the potential of cannabis-derived compounds and are committed to improving the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate products, that it is NOT currently legal to sell food, drinks, or dietary supplements in which CBD (and THC) is added.

The FDA does, however, permit the sale of hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil in human food and deems them as safe. 

Then why do companies still sell CBD-infused food?

The most interesting statement we found on this page is question number 14, which asks, “Will FDA take action against cannabis or cannabis-related products that violate the FD&C Act?” Here’s what they had to say.

The FDA has sent warning letters in the past to companies illegally selling CBD products that claimed to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer. Some of these products were in further violation of the FD&C Act because they were marketed as dietary supplements or because they involved the addition of CBD to food.

When a product violates the FD&C Act, FDA considers many factors in deciding whether or not to initiate an enforcement action. Those factors include, among other things, agency resources and the threat to public health. FDA also may consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.

The conclusion? CBD added to food, drinks, supplements, and other products regulated by the FDA are illegal. Are they going to do anything about it? Probably not.

“I think people think (CBD) is high on the priority list right now. It is not.”
Rusty Payne – DEA Spokesperson

Staying on the right side of the law

While the waters surrounding the legality of CBD remain murky, it’s probably a good idea to stay on the right side of things while the government hashes everything out (pun intended). 

  • Keep the benefits of your product general and avoid making any serious medical claims. If you want to make a medically backed statement, cite sources found in the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. 
  • Pay attention to your local laws. The Farm Bill requires all states to submit a hemp regulation plan for approval. Not all have done so yet. 
  • Build trust with your consumers with transparency. Have your products tested for contaminants and other resources that speak to your CBDs’ quality. Get lab-results showing the CBD percentages from specific batches, and share them with others. This will put you in the best position possible when CBD does become fully legalized. 
  • Avoid shipping to states where cannabis is still criminal illegal, such as Idaho South Dakota, and Nebraska. 
  • And always, always pay your taxes. 

Facebook will now allow “some” CBD ads 

As we previously explained, Facebook has banned its advertising for CBD and ingestible hemp even though these products were not explicitly highlighted in their advertising policies. The move ensued a lawsuit filed by CBD brands suggesting fraudulent ad practices. So can you now advertise CBD on Facebook?

Facebook has since relaxed its “outright ban” on CBD products, but not to much avail to CBD entrepreneurs. To stay compliant with current FDA and DEA laws – however lax they might be at the moment – CBD advertisers are only permitted to run topical hemp CBD ads on Facebook. 

CBD businesses have to be mindful of their landing pages, as well. While your ad can direct to pages that feature topical CBD and ingestible hemp, your Facebook ad cannot feature these products. Facebook CBD policy is also prohibiting ads for ingestible CBD. This includes ads directing to landing pages that feature those products. 

Facebook CBD policy change comes on the brisk of rapid CBD growth in the US. A spokesperson for Facebook has stated, “Our policy remains the same: We don’t allow people to promote CBD or ingestible hemp CBD ads on Facebook.” 

Of course, this change in policy doesn’t just mean they will automatically approve new ads that meet these guidelines so you can advertise CBD on Facebook. Facebook is notorious for making mistakes, while flagging ads and ads must still abide by the platform’s other community standards. 

How to get around Facebook’s CBD Ad Policy

While Facebook’s stance on ingestible hemp CBD ads is quite clear, CBD entrepreneurs will be glad to discover that it is possible to promote your CBD product without getting placed in the dreaded Facebook jail (this is also helpful for CBD Google Advertising too). Here’s the workaround to advertise CBD on Facebook: 

  1. Do not include the work CBD in your domain name.
  2. Create a new Facebook account. Don’t mention CBD or cannabidiol anywhere on the page. 
  3. Remove any CBD related keywords from your website. 
  4. Find a creative way to explain your CBD product to your consumers. CBD images are okay. 
  5. Create a Facebook ad that doesn’t mention CBD in the ad copy OR image. Focus on the benefits of your product. 
  6. Target audiences with an interest in “hemp oil.” 
  7. Launch your compliant CBD campaign! 

Can you advertise CBD on Instagram?

You can try to advertise your CBD ads on Instagram, but you’ll likely have your ads disapproved, or worse, you can get your account banned or shut down. This isn’t surprising, seeing as Facebook owns Instagram. 

Unfortunately, ridiculously strict advertising policies don’t offer much hope for entrepreneurs under Instagram paid advertisement. However, there are plenty of other ways to take advantage of the billion-user platform without actually “advertising.” 

Here are some quick and easy steps you can take to promote your brand and successfully advertise CBD on Instagram. 

  1. Engage with your local community by reposting relevant local content. This helps build your reputation and make your brand feels more approachable and community base. 
  2. Use hashtags, add location tags, and other IG local marketing tools to boost awareness of your CBD product. 
  3. Establish trust by showing how you and your followers personally use CBD in everyday life and what makes your brand unique. 
  4. Create a local lifestyle, and expand your reach by featuring local city/town landmarks into your content.
  5. Get involved with popular hashtags in your local area. The more people that are following that hashtag locally, the more visibility you get. Avoid generic hashtags (#cbd #dispensary) and try geo-modified versions (#CBD[cityname/state])
  6. Be social! People love brands that care enough to interact with them. Show your followers how much you appreciate them and thank them for sharing and tagging your content. 

Other CBD marketing ideas

Once you’ve set up a successful marketing campaign to advertise CBD on Facebook and advertise CBD on Instagram, try some of these other CBD marketing options

Attract CBD leads with search engine optimization

Paid advertising on social media isn’t the only way to market your CBD content. Using your website to your advantage is one of the best ways to promote a brand. Here you have total control over your advertising space.

In fact, one of the best ways to introduce people to your brand is by offering up relevant information. CBD is still new to a lot of people, and they are curious. Research the different ways that people look for CBD products, the questions they are asking about CBD, what niche your product is in, and which demographics are most interested in your product. This will help you develop an SEO strategy that really works. 

Once you have a strategy nailed down, create content that helps answer consumer questions, raise awareness on CBD, and how your brand can help.

Try marketing with CBD affiliates

Introducing people to your brand doesn’t just happen at your webpage and storefront. You can also create leads through CBD listings on Amazon and other sites that target products for resale.

Affiliate marketing is similar to influencer marketing but on a much larger scale. The key difference is that instead of paying someone else to promote your content, you are creating a hub that anyone can join. By providing your affiliate marketers with a unique URL, they can promote your product all over the Internet. When someone uses their link to buy your products, your affiliate marketer then earns a cut before taxes and shipping costs.

Pay an influencer to talk about your CBD product

There is a reason influencers have earned the name “influencer.” And that’s because people do like the content that they have to offer. With a large following, it is possible to introduce your product to those who haven’t been exposed to it yet.

Before you go out and hire the first person you find with 30,000+ followers, it’s important to do your research. Some influencers have a specific demographic and market that would pair well with your brand. This is also much cheaper than hiring a national celebrity. The fan audiences for micro-influencers are much more specific, and you might receive a higher conversion than if you jumped into a larger general-interest audience.

Don’t forget your current customers.

It’s easy to place your focus on gaining new attention for your CBD brand, but you don’t want to forget the people who already buy from you and show their support. Always keep an updated customer email list and contact them when you have new products and great sales. Write blogs and post videos on how to best use your products without trying to sell. Give incentives for referrals and show your consumers that you appreciate them and their continued business.

Work with a CBD advertising agency

A CBD advertising agency is one of the best marketing tools to keep in your back pocket. Keeping up with the current regulations and handling product fulfillment is hard enough as it is. Partnering with a CBD advertising agency could be the difference between struggling with CBD online advertising, and conquering CBD marketing to the fullest.

Your brand is important, and so is business growth. A CBD advertising agency helps you navigate the world of CBD marketing online. A reputable agency can assist you with best practices and can get your brand to get visibility where you need it the most. The right kind of visibility means more conversions, which means more sales and potentially life long customers for your business!

What will the future of CBD advertising look like?

The pressure for social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to expand their CBD advertising policies is increasing. As our laws continue to move toward the inclusion of CBD products, advertising policies will likely change too.  

As for the rest of 2019, CBD growth remains to be seen. Even where CBD currently stands, it is dominating the economy with its current revenues. The Farm Bill has certainly set the stage for a bright and promising future.

The CBD market is rapidly growing. The bulk of this growth is due to large retailers like Kroger, Walgreens, and CVS entering the market and providing mainstream availability to consumers. 

Brightfield Group, a leading consumer and market intelligence firm for legal cannabis and CBD industries, has observed these shifts in the market. According to a 2019 report: Hemp-derived CBD is quickly rising in popularity among health, wellness, and anti-pharma trends. 

  • The CBD market as a whole is on track to reach $23.7 billion in 2023 (and much higher by other estimates). 
  • The number of people using CBD is expected to increase to 10% by 2025, exceeding 25 million people nationwide. 
  • Although CBD has only entered mass retail chains this year, it may encourage a shift in other channels, earning up to 57% of CBD sales in the next year. 
  • While tinctures still dominate the market with 25% percent of sales, they are losing steam as mainstream products begin to surge. 
  • CBD topicals, skincare & beauty products have gained particular traction as mass retailers have signed contracts to feature these products first, and are considered the safest under current regulations.
  • Natural food and smoke CBD revenues continue to thrive with increased use and market saturation. Dispensaries and recreational shops alike have seen an increase in CBD consumer traffic. 
  • 1% of CBD companies have reached the top tier – meaning that they are sold in more than 1000 stores or earned sales of $40+ million. 92.9% of CBD businesses earned less than a million or feature in 0-100 stores. 

Conclusion

To sum everything up, we can say that everything from the current to projected CBD statistics paint an attractive picture of the industry. The industry is advancing at such a rapid rate; it’s difficult to pin down the increase in revenue and full potential. This is why newer reports seem to be ever-increasing in their depiction of the market, which bodes well to current and interested CBD entrepreneurs. 

Interestingly enough, the industry is dominated by women on both sides of the counter and continues to offer new vacancies for skilled workers. Many of which did not exist before this new market. The progress made in CBD is beyond comparison, and the studies are backing up the benefits of CBD are proving to be very real and expanding. 

While business owners still struggle with changing regulations surrounding the industry, the future looks good for CBD. Representatives from the FDA and DEA have voiced their understanding of the potential of CBD and their interest in focusing on more pressing matters. It appears that advocates of CBD on both sides of the counter will have to remain patient, as medical professionals work to pinpoint just what CBD has to offer. The good news is, we will get there. 

In the meantime, keep these tips in mind to successfully advertise CBD on Facebook, advertise CBD on Instagram, and advertise CBD on other related platforms:

  • Stay up to date on evolving CBD laws. 
  • Don’t mention CBD in your Facebook or Instagram ads and landing pages. 
  • Look for other creative ways to bring attention to your CBD brand. 
  • Partner with a CBD advertising agency. 

 

Moblyft understands that it can be a challenge to advertise CBD on Facebook and Instagram. Our CBD advertising is achievable without running paid ads on Facebook or Instagram.

If you’re interested in our programmatic CBD marketing and CBD advertising services, contact us to get our CBD media kit, CBD case study, and go over your campaign goals.