September 18, 2018

How to Translate Your Cannabis Business to Instagram

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One struggle all businesses have, in the cannabis space or not, is trying to figure out how to visually translate their brand into an Instagram friendly format. As a cannabis or cannadjacent business, you have additional struggles with censorship, making it even more important for you to think outside the box when it comes to using Instagram to connect with potential customers and lovers of your product.

In this article, I’m going to cover some of my Instagram planning basics to help you translate your business for the ‘gram and give you the framework to always have something to post.

Categories

Before you start posting, I want you to make a list of the broad topics you’d like to discuss or showcase on Instagram. It can be as many as you’d like, but for consistency’s sake, I’d keep it under 9.

Here’s an example for a retailer in the cannabis space:

  1. New Products
  2. Promotions/sales/events
  3. User testimonials/features/stories
  4. Behind the scenes at our company
  5. Employee Spotlights

These categories, 1-5, would be recycled on repeat in your Instagram grid. Take a look at the diagram below to help you get an idea of how it would be laid out.

These category buckets will be the framework for your Instagram grid. Breaking everything up into categories will give you an opportunity to work on content in advance, and you’ll be able to batch your Instagram posts, so everything is ready to go on the day you’re going to post.

Planning the grid

When it comes time to create your grid, I suggest using a third party app (I like to use Color Story, but Planoly gets rave reviews as well) to get a visual sense of what your profile page will look like when you make a new post, and not just what the post itself is going to look like alone in the feed.

You might not think much about creating a cohesive looking profile page, but it’s actually just as important. There are a lot of ways you can approach this.

You can make some nice patterns with your images to create a very cohesive look on your feed. Like this:

Or if you’re particularly clever, dedicated, and skilled in design, you can have a profile that looks like this:

I would like to say I’m dedicated enough to build my feed out a month in advance, but I like to leave myself some room for promotions or any influencer sponsorships that might come up. I also will never be so deliberate to build a feed that looks like the one above. I like my profile to feel a little more organic, while still structured. If I were building a retail brand of some kind, I might work more on some collage type of feed.

I suggest at least having a general idea what the current week is going to look like on Instagram using a planning app or tool of some kind.

Sticking with the schedule

While I don’t visually plan out Instagram posts that far in advance, I do work on the content of the posts a month at a time. I plan out all of my ideas and how I’m going to tie my posts back to this blog and make sure I have a good balance of all the topics my followers are potentially interested in.

I don’t always stick to the specific posts I write down at the end of the previous month, but this gives me a good backlog for future use. Most of the content I post is evergreen, giving me a lot of leeway to reuse my ideas at a later date if it just doesn’t fit with the flow of the week, for whatever reason.

To stick with my grid, I use Trello to input all of my post ideas for the month, schedule them on the Trello calendar (which gets synced to my Google Calendar), and post when it’s time.

I firmly believe that you should build flexibility into your plan. You should encourage whoever is running your Instagram accounts to do the same. Sometimes, you’ll need space to respond to something that’s culturally relevant for your followers. You don’t want a rigid editorial calendar.

What works best on Instagram?

I know you’re probably looking for a specific answer. But beyond visually appealing photos with bright colors and aesthetically pleasing flatlays, you’re going to have to find out for yourself what exactly works for your brand on Instagram.

Here’s what I can tell you to point you in the right direction towards figuring it out. Instagram skews heavy on the non-men under 30. If you’re actively pursuing that demographic, you’re in the right place. Ask some non-men under 30 what works. Either by following some on Instagram, polling them with yes or no quizzes in Instagram Stories, or just through simple trial and error. Do not send unsolicited messages of any kind, it will get you banned.

There you have it, folks. That’s how I’ve translated my business to Instagram and they’re my best tips to help you translate yours. Don’t be afraid to make some missteps. If a post doesn’t work, you can always archive it or delete it later.

Let me know in the comments below what you do to translate your business to Instagram. What’s worked? What hasn’t? And if you leverage any of the tips I mentioned above, please send me an email and let me know how it works.

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