Digital Marketing for Cannabis: A Roundabout to Regulations

According to the 2019 edition of the Marijuana Business Factbook, “retail sales of medical and recreational cannabis in the United States are on pace to eclipse $12 billion by the end of 2019 – an increase of roughly 35% over 2018 – and could rise as high as $30 billion by 2023.” With these staggering numbers in sight, the pressure remains for cannabis brands to aggressively reach their audiences via social media, by building a community through social platforms.

But with federal regulations in (both Canada and) the US restricting and monitoring the promotion of cannabis, strict social media advertising guidelines are supresive, and unlikely to change anytime soon. 

With cannabis brands being limited to a lifestyle and educational approach what is a cannabis brand to do to stand out to consumers?

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Rather than a traditional retail approach, cannabis brands need a strategy & the right tools to reach audiences organically, and communicate their branding messages to even larger audiences, more and more cannabis companies are building brand ambassador teams to help them educate budtenders and consumers. 

A brand ambassador program enables cannabis companies to: 

  • Amplify user-generated content creation & organic chatter
  • Manage on-site Dispensary representatives
  • Grow customer acquisition
  • Drive sales to specific eCommerce or brick and mortar locations 
  • Build a trusted relationship with ambassadors through a rewards program  

With a SocialLadder ambassador management program in play, Cannabis brands will be able to stay true to compliance while growing the brand and improving engagement with consumers through social media.

Turning Your Early Birds Into Your Top Advocates

5 Tips for Turning Your Buyers into Sellers

With all of the noise out there, consumers trust “marketing” less and less, so if you don’t know who your best customers are and then are turning them into your sales engine, you are missing out.

Let’s use the live event space to paint the picture. Buying an early bird ticket certainly has its advantages for music fans especially because it locks in the lowest price. For event promoters, it means they have fans who are committed to attending.

Being an “ambassador” might not feel like the right fit for everyone. But marketers who ease their audience into ambassador programs by building trust with their biggest advocates tend to have the most success.

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Here are the five keys to a successful early-bird campaign with SocialLadder:

1. DELIVER A GREAT PRODUCT 

This is the first thing, and the only thing to focus on. Without it, your customers won’t trust you and if there’s no trust, in the long run, there will be no product.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR ROCKSTARS 

Every great brand has a rockstar customer. The ones who adopt early and then spreads the word quickly. They are your “diamonds in the rough”. These are the people that trust your brand so much that they don’t even wait for the festival lineup to drop or for a celebrity to endorse it.  These are the Talkers and Planners … and they like to talk … A LOT. Marketers who can identify these people early will win big because they will help organizers expand their reach & drive awareness without cannibalizing sales.

3. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

Understanding the needs and values of your buyers is important because it gives you the ability to create experiences for your fans. Fans who engage authentically and commit to ticket buying early will be a good temperature gauge for what to expect against your overall sales results. By getting up front real-time data you can inform other marketing efforts with the insights you gain through advanced reporting. Imagine the targeting you could do if you knew all of the brands or artists your fans were following?

4. ENHANCE WITH EXPERIENCES NOT CASH

Once in a lifetime fan-focused experiences will keep fans intrinsically motivated to spread the word about your lineup, onsite experiences & ticket price increases. Come up with rewards that will be a true motivator for your fans, but keep in mind that the greatest rewards can be something that shows the appreciation you truly have for your fans. Beyond Wonderland — for example — offered Insomniac fans a chance to hang backstage with their CEO Pasquale Rotella.

5. REWARD THE BIGGEST VOICES

So you’ve lined up fan-focused rewards and figured out who your Planners are, now it’s time to boost the organic chatter so you can pull back on your digital spend and get more REAL fans talking. Take the time to align your marketing calendar with your ambassadors and your word of mouth buzz will takeoff.  Imagine Festival, for example, generated over 3 thousand unique pieces of Instagram content, reaching nearly 4 million people. Imagine that!

Share the Love: 5 Tips to Boost Customer Referrals

The concept is simple: You have customers. Your customers have friends. Your customers’ friends probably “walk alike, talk alike.” In fact, they most likely like a lot of the same things — clothing, travel, social causes, Instagram posts, events etc.

You with me? It’s pretty simple. If your customers like your products, then their friends will too!

What do you think of when you hear “word of mouth marketing?” If you just said “social media” to yourself, you’re not alone, but it doesn’t start and end there.

Word of mouth is actually more powerful when it happens in the real world too.

In fact, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association found that two-thirds of all referred purchases come from real world recommendations, vs. one-third that are discovered online. Recommendations made by people are 10 times more powerful than impersonal ones. Need more convincing?

92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

So why isn’t everyone doing it — and doing it well?  The truth is that “referral marketing” isn’t easy … and it’s so much more than automated referral links and pre-populated spammy messages for your customers to annoy their friends with on their social pages.

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But with a little planning, finding the right customers, and then giving them the tools to make referrals online AND <<drum roll please>> in the REAL WORLD … You will be able to turn your business into the next $1 Billion Brand.

Inspired by the book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, here are 5 tips to get your customers talking:

  1. Talkers

Find your most authentic voices and actually talk to them. Understand why they love your product and how they talk about it to their friends.

I’m the talker in my friend circle. If I find something and it works, I tell everyone I know — and often who I don’t know — everything I know about it. All of my friends now subscribe to SunBasket, own a VitaMix, have been to Iceland, and wear Allbirds to work.

You don’t have to use discounts or product; things like early-bird access and newsletters often attract people like me who are authentically your most valuable customers and want to learn more or just support your brand. Using these “incentives” makes it easier to collect their contact information, which means you have a more personal way to engage them.

  1. Topics

Using real the feedback you get from real customers makes it easier to engage a larger audience more authentically. Create topics for your Talkers to organically talk about based on the topics they are interested in.

Niyama Sol ambassadors, for example, were asked: “Take a photo of yourself in your favorite place to do yoga on your personal Instagram.” Hundreds of real people shared their story to their friends and the brand saw lift quickly.

  1. Tools

Create an easy format for you and them.

Getting 10 customers to talk and spread the word about your brand to their friends is manageable; 100 customers a little harder; 1,000+ customers and it won’t scale unless you have the right tools in place.

One more time … MAKE IT EASY … You will thank me later.

Don’t complicate it for your customers. Add a sign-up link to your website and automate an invitation to join the ambassador program when a customer makes a purchase. Once they have joined, keep making it easy — give them access to your brand’s story, referral links, and topics to stimulate their storytelling about your brand.

Ensure that they are able to share their unique referral link or code and tell their story quickly on as many platforms as possible without any hassle. This includes social media channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and the like.

  1. Taking Part

Great. You have them talking the talk, now you need to show them that you can walk the walk … WITH them.

You want people to purchase your product without having to convince them. So the only way to do this is to make sure you are listening and engaging with your Talkers, and then rewarding them for authentically spreading the love about your product in the real world to their friends.

Make sure you make it easy for your Talkers to talk to you and encourage them to give you feedback. Big retailers like Sephora, Amazon and Nordstrom ask every customer to leave a review.

If they ask a question, you answer.

If they have a suggestion, you listen.

If they had a bad experience, you get a chance to fix it.

  1. Tracking

Understanding the data behind what is working and who is working the best for your brand is important.

You will find that some of the best Talkers don’t feel comfortable sharing a referral link online, but they will talk to anyone who listens in the real world. Or you may find that some of your customers are great content creators with high engagement, but they don’t see themselves as an “influence.”

Reward them & engage with them equally.

These are your “diamonds in the rough.” Love them and hold onto them dearly. They will intrinsically help you attract more people like them and are the best advertising investment you can make.

Imagine That: It’s Not Just About Ticket Sales!

In 2018, Imagine Music Festival was met with a critical decision. Their first option was to continue to power their ambassador program with the same tool they had used historically, an option that was focused solely on ticket sales.

Or…  

Imagine had an opportunity to engage outside-the-box thinking and select a new program that would maximize ambassador team efforts through a highly-engaged network of music fans, social media integration, and advanced field marketing tools.

The choice might have been difficult, but the outcome was clear! On-boarding SocialLadder (and stepping away from the expected approach) proved wildly successful for their fans and paid off in a big way for Imagine. Not only did it give their ambassador manager the tools to track the team, it also gave the fans a fun way to stay engaged.

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What were the keys to Imagine’s success? Utilizing the “ImagineNation” street team alongside the SocialLadder network allowed SocialLadder to run in tandem with the festival’s competitive ambassador program.

Similarly, the vast SocialLadder toolkit was used in driving social media engagement, field marketing, and innovative rewards that resulted in the following intrinsic upside for fan ambassadors:

  1. Fans were brought together in a cohesive, active fan-focused community
  2. The program helped to widen fans’ reach and social circles
  3. Fans were rewarded with elevated experiences for their efforts

And for Imagine, the increased engagement resulted in a program that produced THREE TIMES the ticket sales revenue than the competitor’s campaign did.

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The biggest win for the promoters was that 80% of the ticket sold by ambassadors to their friends were NEW ticket sales by buyers who had never purchased a ticket before.

The results were staggering:

  1. 682 Ambassadors Completed 16,673 fan engagement challenges
  2. In 100 days, more than 22 Million native social impressions were generated
  3. SocialLadder ambassadors were responsible for nearly $800K in ticket revenue

Optimizing the ambassador experience was a key driver in the success of the SocialLadder Imagine Festival program. SocialLadder made it fun for fans to be ambassadors. By giving fans more than just selling tasks, they were able to be rewarded for being active and engaged in the community.

Top ambassadors unlocked once in a lifetime experiences that will ensure their return in 2019.

HOW THE MET PHILADELPHIA GOT BOOTS ON THE GROUND

Word-of-mouth is the biggest part of fan discovery, but it isn’t always online

The Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia’s recently restored Live Nation venue, reopened its doors after a massive transformation at the end of 2018 as a state-of-the-art venue, kicking off the season with a grand opening that had Bob Dylan on the marquee.

The venue, a historic landmark in North Philadelphia, was originally built 110 years ago. After operating as everything from the site of radio broadcasts to a church, it eventually closed its doors in the late 1990s. Two decades later, the Met was in need of a new owner with a big vision and some TLC.

In December 2018, after undergoing a $56 million renovation, The Met emerged with a killer lineup — Bob Dylan, John Legend, Mariah Carey and more — but like many new venues they needed help spreading their name in order to be rediscovered.

Starting from scratch, the Met took a grassroots approach to promotion over the summer of 2018 to drive buzz around their opening and generate excitement in the region. In order to do this, the Met worked with SocialLadder to build promotions from the ground up. Street teams and grassroots marketing groups were deployed in the Met’s nearby areas, putting boots on the ground in the pulse of their neighborhood.

With SocialLadder’s help, they were able to recruit and mobilize these teams, create accountability in the field, and track all activity from one system. This resulted in the creation of an actionable network of ambassadors that could be leveraged year round, and a full room opening night and beyond.

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The #1 reason people don’t attend events is because they don’t know they exist. Here are our 3 tips for having a successful street team to cut through the surrounding noise and get your events on your neighborhood’s radar:

  1. Make reporting easy
    • Team reporting is important data, but its collection shouldn’t be a tedious task; make this simple for both your team and yourself.
  2. Keep your goals attainable
    • Assigning tasks that are both fun and realistic will keep your team engaged and motivated
  3. Fans of your venue are your strongest advocates
    • Identify your top fans – the people who know your venue best – and activate them into promotional voices

The biggest headliner you’ve never heard of

Think about your group of friends. There’s usually that one person who always seems to be coming up with something to do — picking the restaurant, finding a new destination, or suggesting the next festival to attend. This is the planner — the one who convinces you to do something you may have no idea how to do and makes sure you have the time of your life doing it. Planners are the most important person to any event organizer, and luckily there is a way for organizers to harness their power and reward them for all of their hard work.

Firefly Music Festival realized the power of these fans and wanted to find a way to make them feel like they were a part of the festival’s planning process as a whole. By harnessing the power of natural planners, Firefly was able to create a robust program of 1,600 fans who became their biggest advocates. Then, using gamification, Firefly challenged these fans to start doing what they do best — round up their fans and make the plans.

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In just 90 days, these superfans rounded up over 2,000 of their friends to attend the festival and generated 13 million+ impressions by creating content and sharing their tips for how to experience the festival better.

By creating a “home” for the planners, festival organizers were able to say “thank you” to these valuable fans by making them the headliners — hooking them up with elevated experiences that are generally reserved for the artists and sponsors like backstage passes & VIP camping upgrades.

So next time you’re stressing about finding the big name to bring people to your event, don’t forget about the real headliner: the planner.

Need help identifying them? Ask us!

BREAKING NEWS: Ambassador Programs Drive Results

STUDY SHOWS THAT MORE THAN 80% OF AMBASSADOR SALES ARE TO FIRST TIME BUYERS

MYTH: Ambassador programs cannibalize sales.

FACT: SocialLadder ambassadors sell 80%+ NEW sales for brand partners.

SocialLadder ran a study of two repeat festival partners — Lights All Night, an electronic festival in Dallas, and 515 Alive, a hip-hop festival in Des Moines. Two communities of different fans in different locations with the same results.

Of all sales made by SocialLadder ambassadors for these two festivals, an average of 83.5% were NEW sales, purchased by first-time buyers.

 

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A few tips for how your brand can find new buyers:

      1. Build a community of authentic ambassadors

Festivals are always a reunion with friends I consider family. They’ve changed my life and who I am. They’ve taught me the meaning of community!”  –Nikki Breslauer, April Ambassador of the Month

The fan journey is the most important part of the festival experience. When a fan opts into being an ambassador, you want them to feel like they are part of a community that they can relate to and feel special about. Ultimately, they are going to be helping your brand extend its reach to their friends, so make them feel like family. When ambassadors don’t feel like they are promoting alone, their overall experience is reported as being better.

      2. Convert Your Customers

The best ambassadors are people who have already purchased your product — especially early-bird or presale buyers. These are the folks who are already committed to attending your event or who have experienced your brand — which makes them your biggest fans and thus most likely to help you reach new fans (aka their friends & family).

SocialLadder is able to help brand marketers capitalize on this by automating emails to customers encouraging them to personally invite their friends to buy.

      3. Align marketing strategy with ambassador team tasks

63% of marketers interviewed in The Pulse Report: 2019 Industry Trends said that word-of-mouth was an effective strategy, and 49% said that social media — especially Facebook and Instagram — is an effective strategy to drive ticket sales. Aligning your marketing calendar with ambassador tasks is a great way to reduce your paid media spend and get ambassadors to help you spread the word — ultimately boosting your content to their personal following.

     4. Use rewards to motivate your ambassadors

What’s more hype than an exclusive afterparty or VIP tickets to your favorite festival? Using fan experiences like artist passes, free tickets and exclusive merchandise are great ways to boost fan engagement and to say “thank you” to ambassadors for their hard work. Make it easy for fans to promote your brand by providing them with sample social media posts, email messages, images, logos, event descriptions, event hashtags, and any other brand assets that will make it as easy as possible for them to spread the word, and in return earn points to unlock priceless experiences.

     5. Track results

In addition to making it easier for marketing directors to track ambassador activities, SocialLadder’s integration with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Eventbrite enbles brand marketers to track the overall effectiveness of programs and view data to see which sales are new sales. Understanding what your customers enjoy and how they engage their friends is an important part of the marketer’s journey and an even more important factor in building a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

Export and View Ambassador Submission Location Data in Google Maps

Get acquainted with SocialLadder’s updated Google Map Export feature!

We’ve recently overhauled and improved a longstanding SocialLadder feature that allows portal users to view submissions to certain challenge types as map data in Google Maps. Because SocialLadder automatically tracks location data for submissions to these challenge types, each submission can be viewed as a location pin with additional attached information!

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This feature is perfect for event organizers running postering & flyering campaigns. You’ll be able to view all postered locations from a bird’s-eye view and adjust your campaigns accordingly, or comb through your submissions retrospectively to put together a new plan of attack for next year.

You can track your ambassadors’ submissions to relevant challenge types using SocialLadder’s Reporting feature. By simply exporting the Google Drive Map Export Data and importing it into a new Google Map, you’ll have all of your ambassadors’ submissions & location data at your fingertips!

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This information will help you strategize your current and future postering & flyering campaigns. Other SocialLadder program organizers may find it useful just to get a sense of where their ambassadors are from and where they are active!

SocialLadder program organizers can learn more about accessing and using this feature over at the SocialLadder Knowledge Base.

If you’d like to learn more about how this feature can help you run a successful ambassador program on SocialLadder, request a demo here.

Track Your Community’s Instagram Engagement Metrics & Expand Your Social Media Reach

Introducing our new Instagram Engagement Feature!

We just rolled out a tool that will change the way you track your Instagram metrics. Our new report allows organizers to track the “Likes” & “Comments” of each post an ambassador makes on Instagram.

This feature is perfect for brands who need to track their influencers’ post reach or event promoters who want to know the engagement their ambassadors received on their latest show announcement.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 3.03.24 PM.pngWant 10% off Niyama Sol products? Use discount code SOCIALLADDER19 at www.niyamasol.com

You can track your ambassadors’ Instagram engagement across your SocialLadder program and use that data to better understand your community’s interests and behaviors. With 3 simple clicks, organizers can export a report that pulls their users’ Likes, Comments, Engagement Rate, & Followers for Instagram.

This information will help you connect with your current advocates, as well as strategize to fully expand the reach of your brand on Instagram and beyond.

Are you ready to grow your Instagram and track your community’s engagement? Reach out to your SocialLadder rep today to get started.

Request a demo here.

Lights All Night – Lights It Up with SocialLadder

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AMBASSADORS HIT 1 MILLION DOLLARS IN SALES FOR LIGHTS ALL NIGHT

Congratulations to our ambassadors for hitting 1 million dollars in ticket sales for Lights All Night through SocialLadder! Lights All Night, a popular music festival in its ninth year of celebration, partnered up with SocialLadder for their 2017 ambassador program and have continued on for the festival’s 2018 iteration as well. Lights All Night ambassadors can win exclusive rewards like free tickets, on-stage viewing, meet & greets, and more through completing online challenges, as well as selling tickets via SocialLadder!

“SocialLadder has been a massive asset to our event the past few years. From helping us push important messaging to making fans feel like they have a way to be directly involved, Lights All Night wouldn’t be where it is without them.”

The two-day end-of-year event takes place on December 28th and 29th, and will return to Dallas Market Hall. Last year’s sold-out event welcomed over 30,000 fans with huge performers like Bassnectar, Marshmello, and more. After a well-received expansion last year, the festival will continue to grow with 5 stages and over 40 acts from across the country.

Attendees can expect to see electronic music legends like Excision, Diplo, Kaskade, and Rezz performing across the unique stages at Lights All Night. The festival curates a special experience for its attendees with highlights like cutting edge production, specialty performers including stilt walkers & fire breathers, and the Disco Galaxy Stage – a 360° stage experience. Lights All Night is truly a magical experience for all.

Want $5 off select tickets? Click here & apply the discount code SOCIALLADDER to join in on the fun!

“We love having a partner like Lights All Night who always puts the fans first and understands how important it is to craft a memorable fan experience. Their use of once in a lifetime opportunities is part of that story and a really awesome way to thank their top ambassadors for making another year successful.” — Alana Bly, SocialLadder Co-founder