Marijuana Business Magazine October 2019

are preferable to celebrity influencers’ engagement metrics because micros spend more time engaging with followers. “They literally respond to nearly everybody that responds to their post, on a daily basis,” DiBlasi said. Assessing quality of engagement, however, doesn’t involve just measuring frequency of interaction. Nor is it limited to counting “likes” and comments. Likes don’t “necessarily mean that they like your product,” said Susan Rust, founder and CEO of 4Blooms.Guru, a San Diego cannabis/hemp branding, design and packaging agency. Likes can simply imply that followers “like the artwork or the photo,” Rust added. And, while a “comment is worth more than a like … the comment can be ‘hate your product’ or ‘buy my stuff,’ so (it) may not generate any future sales.” Consequently, experts say assessing quality of engagement involves evaluating numerous aspects of interaction, such as: • Growth in the number of followers. • How actively those followers interact with your brand by reposting content. • Number of clicks per post. • How many followers visit your com- pany’s or affiliates’ sites. FINDING MICRO-INFLUENCERS “The best places to find micro- influencers are either on the social platform where they reside, such as Instagram, or on influencer databases,” said Tom Augenthaler, director of 551 Media, an influencer-marketing consultant based in Houston. “When searching for them on Insta- gram, use hashtags so you can find them through their content,” Augenthaler said. “When you find some you like, be sure to check not only their audience size but the quality and frequency of their content.” Using an influencer database, such as Scrunch or TinySponsor, can also be helpful, he added, because it allows you to sort influencers by category, such as “health” or “organic.” Databases also offer Hiring a Social Media Influencer “Social Media Usage in the U.S. in 2019.” Pew Research Center, Washington DC. (April 10, 2019). Marijuana Business Magazine | October 2019 102 Facebook, YouTube Continue to be the Most Widely Used Online Platforms Among U.S. Adults Percent of U.S. adults who say they ever use the following online platforms or messaging apps online or on their cell phones 80% 60% 40% 20% 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 statistics, including audience size, what social media platforms influencers use and what they charge. MEASURING ROI When it comes to influencers, measur- ing your return on investment (ROI) depends on what the goal is, DiBlasi said. “If the goal is brand awareness, then you’re going to be looking at how many people saw your message (brand reach) and how many people engaged with that message (brand engagement and interaction metrics). But if your goal is to build a community, you may be looking at lead generation.” Lead generation, DiBlasi explained, means collecting data that your social media followers are willing to share with you. “You’re going to be looking at, sure, brand awareness and engagement met- rics (but also) how many people clicked through to a landing page and filled it out and then deposited their info. into your database,” she said. “You’ll want to measure how many people said, ‘You know what, I want a direct dialogue with your brand or your company. I want you to email me or reach out to me now that you know who I am and tell me when you have a (product) at the dispensary or a special event I can attend to learn more.’” DiBlasi also recommends keeping close relationships with distribution partners and dispensaries. “From a digital marketing standpoint, we can definitely track all the way through the lead funnel—from where people see a message online, to when they click on that message, to how many click all the way through to a brand’s website on where to buy. (After that point), it becomes a little more challenging to track them all the way into the dispensary,” she said. BRIGHTER FUTURE? Looking ahead, cannabis companies are expected to face advertising obstacles as long as the federal government continues to outlaw marijuana and social media giants persist in restricting MJ businesses from promoting their products. But most experts believe that the situation will improve. “We have to get clever, real clever,” DiBlasi said. “It can be challenging, but I think that’s going to change over time.” Note: Pre-2018 telephone poll data is not available for YouTube, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Comparable trend data is not available for Reddit. Source: Survey conducted Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2019. YouTube 73% Facebook 69% Instagram 37% Pinterest 28% LinkedIn 27% Snapchat 24% Twitter 22% WhatsApp 20% Reddit 11%