On February 14, 2023, Twitter became the first major social media platform to allow cannabis advertising for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands and companies. In an announcement published on the Twitter website, the company said it had relaxed its cannabis ads policy in certain U.S. states to create more opportunities for responsible cannabis marketing.
As a result of this change, Twitter explained that advertisers can now promote, “brand preference and informational cannabis related content for CBD, THC, and cannabis-related products and services.”
Why Twitter Changed Its Stance on Cannabis Advertising
In its announcement and other public-facing messaging related to the cannabis advertising change, Twitter has cited the growing number of cannabis conversations already happening among users on its platform as the primary catalyst.
“As the cannabis industry has expanded, so too has the conversation on Twitter… The cannabis space on Twitter is fun and engaging with users Tweeting about their experiences using cannabis – whether medicinally, for wellness, or recreation – as well as recommending brands, products, and retail locations. The conversation also reflects where the cannabis industry is currently heading: legislative/policy reform, business development, and community impact.”
Based on these statements, it’s clear that Twitter understands cannabis has evolved in recent years, and old policies no longer make sense. At the same time, the company has been in the news in recent months after a number of large advertisers left the platform and earnings fell. It’s not a big leap to assume at least part of the decision to allow cannabis advertising was money.
Regardless of why the company made the change right now, it’s excellent news for cannabis and ancillary businesses whose target audiences are active on Twitter. However, there are rules in place that still make it challenging for a cannabis brand to advertise on Twitter.
New Rules and Guidelines for Twitter Cannabis Advertising
Twitter updated its ad content policy related to drugs and drug paraphernalia to include specific language for cannabis advertising in the United States. Specifically, Twitter’s new policy says “We permit approved cannabis (including CBD – cannabinoids) advertisers to target the United States.”
However, there is a list of restrictions that advertisers must meet and comply with. For example, advertisers have to be licensed by the appropriate authorities (something that can be verified at the state level using the Cannabiz Media License Database). Cannabis advertisers also have to be pre-authorized by Twitter. This includes both B2B and B2C advertisers.
In addition, advertisers are only allowed to target jurisdictions where they’re licensed, and they may not target customers under the age of 21. Each advertiser is responsible for complying with all laws, rules, regulations, and advertising guidelines, which means the onus is on the advertiser to understand all applicable laws when they place an ad through Twitter.
Things get even more complicated when you consider the various content-related restrictions. Cannabis advertisers may not promote or offer the sale of cannabis (including CBD) in their ads. The only exception is ads for topical hemp-derived CBD products that contain 0.3% or less THC. Ads may not make claims of efficacy or health benefits of cannabis, show or depict a cannabis product in use, depict people using or under the influence, or use false or misleading claims.
Furthermore, cannabis ads may not appeal to minors. This includes not just the ad creative but also landing pages, which must be age-gated. Sales must be age verified, and ads are not allowed to encourage transport across state lines. Finally, ads may not use minors or pregnant women as models, nor may they use characters, sports-persons, celebrities, or images/icons that appeal to minors.
Special Offer from Twitter to Cannabis Advertisers
To jumpstart cannabis advertising sales, Twitter has a special offer that runs through March 31, 2023. Any cannabis brand that purchases new advertising up to $250,000 will get a $1 to $1 match from Twitter to spend on additional advertising on the platform.
Cannabis businesses don’t have to spend that much money to place ads on Twitter. Unlike other industries, which have a $5,000 to $10,000 minimum buy to advertise on Twitter, the company is not requiring a minimum buy from cannabis businesses at this time.
Tips for B2B and B2C Cannabis Advertising on Twitter
Despite all of these restrictions, there are ways for businesses that work in and with the cannabis industry to successfully follow the rules and display effective ads on Twitter.
Importantly, Twitter has said it expects cannabis advertising and the related conversations on the platform to be educational, so cannabis ads on the platform should prioritize education. That’s what Twitter has said it wants.
With that in mind, Twitter may be a great place for lead generation, brand awareness, and top of the funnel promotion. It may not be a great place for bottom of the funnel promotion and sales conversions. Everything remains to be seen, so testing will be the key to success.
In the past, to have a chance of getting a cannabis or cannabis-related ad approved, brands had to be extremely careful to avoid using copy or images in their ads that referenced cannabis in any way. They also had to be certain the landing page the ad linked to did not mention cannabis. The associated website couldn’t directly or indirectly promote cannabis either.
Therefore, cannabis advertisers would have to set up two different websites or get really clever with the words they used in their ads, landing pages, and websites. If they didn’t, one of two things would happen – their ads wouldn’t be approved or they’d eventually get caught, which could lead to a suspended account.
Truthfully, Twitter advertising should be easier for cannabis and ancillary businesses now. Brands should be able to include words like cannabis, marijuana, CBD, hemp, and dispensary in ad, landing page, and website copy going forward. However, there are some things to keep in mind as you develop your creative assets that should improve the chances of Twitter approving your ads.
For cannabis-related B2B brands, be sure to use images and messages that make it extremely clear you’re not selling plant-touching products or services. For B2C brands, avoid using creative assets that could appeal to minors, display product use, or make any health-related claims.
As I mentioned above, testing is key until we know more about how Twitter’s new cannabis advertising will actually work. If you’re ready to try it, you’ll need to get approved by Twitter first.
Key Takeaways about Twitter Cannabis Advertising for B2B and B2C
As Twitter shared in its official announcement about its new cannabis advertising policy, the cannabis conversation on Twitter in the United States, “is larger than the conversation around topics such as pets, cooking, and golf, as well as food and beverage categories including fast food, coffee, and liquor.”
The size of the conversation makes it clear that while Twitter may be the first social media platform to loosen cannabis advertising restrictions, it won’t be the last. Now is the time to start preparing by developing a great website filled with useful content for your target audience(s), so you start to build your brand reputation and your site’s authority.
Leverage content marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, influencer marketing, and organic social media marketing to build a solid foundation, so when the time comes to start advertising on social media channels, Google, and more, you’ll be ready!