Welcome back to our mis-adventures with categories! Last month, we wrote about how too many payment processors won’t work Canna-businesses because of outdated banking restrictions that categorize cannabis transactions as “high-risk.” Today, we look at how Facebook and Instagram are still categorizing Canna-businesses within ‘Violence and Criminal Behavior.’
Somewhat hilariously, Facebook’s categories are perhaps more complicated to understand than insurance policy. The social media giant allows users to freely share images of themselves consuming cannabis but they don’t allow sales of Cannabis via their marketplace (naturally), or ad sales for Cannabis companies via their advertising platforms. Ah, the irony! You can create value for the social media company by sharing pics of yourself recreating with cannabis, but you cannot create value for yourself and your community by promoting cannabis products on their sites.
Here’s why Facebook and Instagram won’t take your advertising business: they’ve got inaccurate and stale categories around Cannabis just like most banks. This category and the ways that it shakes down to inhibit business owners is super frustrating. You likely remember or know someone who lost their Facebook account or page without warning. Talk about disruptive to your digital presence! Here’s an article from the BBC about it.
How and why does that happen? Well, on one hand it’s the category that defines the policy. But keep in mind who is making the call on flagging posts and removing accounts — it’s not likely an employee with experience in the nuances of state and national Cannabis law. More often than not, it’s an algorithm, or an underpaid and undertrained contract worker.
As always, there is still a workable strategy to employ while Facebook and Instagram take their time catching up. So you can’t use ads yet, but you can have a flourishing account! Seize the day and make your page work for you: build a brand, iterate on your voice, direct folks to the products on your website, make friends and expand circles, and spread your image in organic ways.
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