Influencer Marketing for CBD – How to Avoid a Shadowban

9th August 2021

As an influencer, you may receive a tempting deal from an attractive brand. This type of work comes naturally to you and you enjoy it – so what’s the issue?

An issue may arise when the product you are promoting is CBD related, be it CBD edibles, oils, capsules, or skincare. Our knowledge on the benefits of CBD for issues related to stress and pain is continuously growing – and so is our enthusiasm towards discussing the topic.

However, not everyone is ready for the CBD conversation especially within an online space such as Facebook or Instagram. Misuse of social media’s guidelines may result in an unwanted shadowban or stunt in your post’s reach or engagement. And it may be difficult to get a wider audience to react well to your content.

For online stores and influencers alike, marketing for CBD on social media can be tricky. Our guide will help you to gain some knowledge on important topics. It'll also encourage you to get excited about seeing real results.

What Is a “Shadowban”?

A shadowban can block an individual’s posts, comments, or profile from being visible to their audience for a period of time without the user’s knowledge. You may receive a notification informing you that recent content you posted is sensitive and will be removed – but only if you’re lucky.

Perhaps unfairly, a shadowban is placed on a user’s account regardless of the real-life circumstances or without the opportunity to argue your case. This can lead to frustration in the slow pace of your account’s overall growth.

As with CBD, it is not uncommon for accounts to be shadowbanned when they discuss a somewhat controversial topic. This includes the misconception of speaking about CBD with relation to smoking marijuana or general “antisocial” behaviour – regardless if it is medicinal.

Although the overall CBD conversation is generally enthusiastic, we must remember that hasn’t always been the case. Feeling like we need to tiptoe on social media about CBD can be a little debilitating – but there are many ways around it.

Community Guidelines and How They Relate to CBD 

Facebook and Instagram filter their content through strict community guidelines that protect the platform and encourage a safe space for everyone. Of course, like all computers and human error, the social media platform may misunderstand your intentions.

In order to avoid a misunderstanding in the first place, it is important to know the community guidelines and how they relate to content promoting CBD products.

Intellectual Property

Only sharing photos and videos that are your own or that you have permission to share.

As an influencer, the promotion of a brand’s products is allowed but you may want to disclose if you are being paid for a #ad under the correct ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) guidelines. This includes products that are #gifted, #ambassador or #affiliate. Adhering to the correct ASA guidelines will also ensure your account is celebrated and not hidden by the algorithm.

Appropriate Content For a Diverse Audience

This means that in some situations, certain content may be taken down or deleted. This could be anything from nudity, aggressive or extreme language, or something a specific group of people find offensive, within reason of course.

Bottom line, never promote CBD as a lifesaving product that will end world hunger – or something like that. Make sure you are honest, and never promote CBD for something it is not.

Don’t Spam and Stay Genuine

Facebook and Instagram want you to post content that is real, meaningful, and does not intend to spam others. Your account should remain organic, without artificially getting likes, comments, or followers from outside or third-party sources.

Follow the Law

This one may be a little more tricky than you initially think. This is due to the fact that different countries have different CBD laws in place. Choose your wording carefully for the UK and Irish audience, to ensure that CBD is marketed within the current law.

The FSA (Food Standards Agency) confirms that CBD products require a novel foods application for the intention to sell. From April 2021, this means that products without this approved application will be removed from store shelves.

Although this would not be your responsibility, operating with a credited brand will ensure you can market fairly. As an influencer, you should ensure you know enough about the brand that you are working with. Never be afraid to ask the right questions and understand if they are operating correctly.

Build Brand Awareness, Uniqueness, and Consistency

CBD is a largely popular market, with social media being saturated with different influencers and brands – left, right, and centre. Whether you are an actual CBD distributor or a paid influencer, your brand is you and how others perceive you.

You need to keep a consistent aesthetic and content tone to build brand awareness – including both visual and written captions. This is tricky from an influencing perspective, especially as you may be working with more than one brand at the same time.

Stand out by sticking to a theme. For example, a minimal theme or a busy, colourful theme. Sticking to a theme ensures your audience knows what to expect, and it should transcend into the product you promote. A happy audience means more engagement and reach, which means the reduced likelihood of a shadowban.

It’s also important to stay consistent with when you post as the algorithm favours predictable behaviour. Posting five times in one day may be seen as spam. Likewise, suddenly posting a lot for the first time in days may raise a flag. We suggest investing in a content management system that helps you to stay on top of your game.

Engage and Spark Genuine Conversations

Instagram and Facebook want to see an account that engages with their audience organically. This involves replying to messages and comments promptly, engaging in other people’s content, and showing up regularly online.

A marketing tool to increase your accounts engagement includes using a call to action. Prompt your audience to engage with your content by asking them to answer a question or encouraging them to give an opinion. Ask your followers if they have ever tried CBD gummies before and what their experience was.

These types of actions should minimise the likelihood of your account being demonetised for CBD content.

Review Your Hashtag Strategy

Although one of the most powerful marketing tools, hashtags are also one of the most temperamental when misused. It’s true, many hashtags are reviewed for harmful words as soon as you decide to share your content – and Instagram AI makes their choice pretty swiftly.

Truth is, there are many accounts out there that are trying to sell you the wrong thing. Therefore, you would not like to crossover with their choice of hashtags or potentially face the dreaded shadowban. As a suggestion, search for #CBD or related hashtags on the discovery page and click into posts or accounts that have similar content to yours.

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If you are looking to promote a face cream, research #cbdskincare and examine a performing post by another user taking note of the hashtags they use. Additionally, it’s important to use hashtags that are relevant to you. #CBD is a broad term with over 13.4 million active posts under that hashtag – meaning the algorithm competition is too high. Get creative and opt for #wellnessroutine or #cbdbeauty specifically when discussing CBD products that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Staying Relevant

As an influencer, it’s important to stay active with the marketing tools Instagram and other social media platforms have to offer. We’ve come a long way from a static post on the grid, to interactive stories, live streams, IGTV, and reels.

Truth is, Instagram doesn’t want to ban accounts that utilise the popular tools that the platform has to offer. It favours the algorithm and looks good for their business when their tools are proving successful. Therefore, being knowledgeable of the latest trends ensures your account doesn’t “fall behind” and helps the algorithm to favour you.

Engaging, entertaining, and educational content has a stronger chance of high performance.

A Live Q&A With Your Audience

The day before, pop a question box on your story asking your followers to engage with you in a Q&A specifically about a CBD product you are promoting, or even CBD in general. This removes the “taboo” of CBD conversation and shows Instagram your account has nothing to hide. You can also weed out the questions you don’t like (pun intended).

As a tip, influencers can ask their own questions that they think are important to cover and it shows up anonymously – we won’t tell if you won’t.

Take the Creative Trends and Flip Them

Whether it’s stop motion IGTVs or a reel with a trending dance it’s important to capitalise on the social world. Use what’s currently trending to promote your unique product in a way that isn't overtly obvious that your post refers to CBD.

As an example, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is one of the newest marketing trends. If your CBD product features an edible or cosmetic product, you can utilise relevant ASMR hashtags for a sound inducing baking recipe or skincare guide.

Of course, be sure to check with the brand to get content approved before it goes live.

Use “How to” Guides

Education is key to an engaging audience that values your content. By educating your followers through reels or Instagram guides, you are creating a fun way to spread information on a product or ingredient that is shareable.

Since 2020, Instagram has introduced guides as a tool for brands to promote wellbeing tips. Received well by many communities, the tool has since remained in 2021 for influencers and online stores. This is especially great news for CBD products, since you can now create step by step guides on a skincare routine or a tasty CBD recipe.

Avoid Health and Medical Claims

Perhaps the most important issue is marketing CBD as a medicinal product that makes certain claims towards diseases or illnesses.

Facebook and Instagram are clear on their community guidelines regarding drugs and drug use. While we all know CBD is not considered a medical drug in the UK and Ireland, it is important to ensure your language respects that or fear a potential shadowban.

Be honest about your CBD product and its ingredients to try and keep the content lighthearted, educational, and helpful. Try not to steer into scientific claims which may be a little intimidating for online audiences.

Where possible, provide a link in your bio for further information regarding the product you are promoting.

Key Takeaways

CBD conversations are on the rise among friends, families, workplaces, and social media channels. As an influencer and brand ambassador, it is your challenge to promote CBD within Instagram’s community guidelines and the individual brand’s guidelines at all times.

The dreaded shadowban is not exactly temperamental, but once applied to your account it can be difficult to remove. By remaining genuine and honest, creating content that is engaging and fun, you will surely see results.

When in doubt, it may be a good idea to reach out to the social media platform you intend to post to – before the content goes live. The specific team may be able to advise you and keep your worries at bay.

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