Tag: social media

Who’s Sabotaging This Cannabis Company’s Instagram Account?

On Saturday, online trolls who’d been quietly running a fake Instagram account in the name of the California-based cannabis company Kiva Confections suddenly began abusing people in comments and direct messages.

People were offended by the messages, ‘and rightfully so,’ said Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich.

“At least cancer doesn’t run in my family,” they wrote in one particularly offensive message, directed toward a user with a family member who died of cancer. They followed the note with a smiley face emoji.

These particular imposters were dedicated, setting up the ruse as a kind of sleeper cell. They kept the fake account private and spent months amassing followers. They cribbed copy and high-quality photos from Kiva’s website to make the account look official. As of last Saturday, when the harassment began, the fake account had more than 2,000 followers.

“It was just pretty dark and macabre,” Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich told Leafly in a phone interview yesterday. “It makes my blood boil to think about how somebody could, even under the cloak of acting as an imposter to try and hurt us, just be that insensitive to another human being. It just tears you up inside.”

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Fighting Back with Video

As the hateful comments and messages piled up, account followers became increasingly offended, and “rightfully so, because it was disgusting,” Knoblich said. It wasn’t long before another Instagram user, who happened to have over 90,000 followers, posted screenshots of the cancer-related taunt to their own page alongside a note condemning Kiva. That opened the floodgates to an onslaught of vitriol directed towards the company—and alerted Kiva officials to the existence of the fake account.

Kiva co-founder Knoblich: Help us shut down the troll.

As soon as she found out what was going on, Knoblich posted a video to the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages making it clear that the account was fake. She apologized for the troll’s hurtful comments, and asked users to help get the imposter account removed by reporting the abuse to Instagram. Following the release of the video, a number of people appeared to have unfollowed the imposter account.

As of Tuesday morning, though, the fake Kiva account was still up and running—which is especially ironic considering that Kiva’s actual Instagram account has been shut down by the social media site a total of eight times.

“I don’t have a good understanding of what the algorithms are and what they’re scanning for, so it could be that we’re just constantly getting hit by the same troll reporting our account,” Knoblich told Leafly. “But within a few months or even days of us starting a new page with the name Kiva in it, it’s flagged for removal and taken down.”

Knoblich says Kiva lost nearly 60,000 followers as a result, and that for more than a year they were unable to get more than a one-line email from Instagram saying Kiva had violated the site’s terms of service in response to inquiries about their account.

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The Mysterious Rules of Social Media

Strangely, Kiva hasn’t had the same sort of trouble on other social media sites like Twitter or Facebook (which bought Instagram in 2012)—though dozens of other legal cannabis companies have a history of seeing their Facebook accounts banned, too. Facebook’s community standards specifically prohibit content that promotes marijuana sales, even in states where it’s legal.

Fake. Fake. Fake.

Many legal cannabis business owners have complained that on both Facebook and Instagram, the rules are vague and seem to be enforced in a patchwork fashion, creating an uneven playing field among competitors in the same industry.

“What’s so interesting is that you’ll see posts from other companies or users and it’s naked women and paraphernalia and guns and cash,” Knoblich said. “But all the posts we had on our real page were about education. Things like how to keep edibles away from kids, how to store and lock your edibles, pointers and tips for how to use safely. The nature of what we were posting didn’t have anything to do with promoting sales, illegal use, shipping or distribution.”

Instagram Responds, Kind of

After trying for months to get in touch with an Instagram representative, Kiva finally recently received an email that included a more detailed policy around cannabis. The language doesn’t appear to be included in either Instagram’s official community guidelines or terms of service, so it seems the policy hasn’t been made public.

Here is that statement in full:

Instagram does not allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. This is primarily because most federal laws, including those of the United States, treat marijuana as either an illegal substance or highly regulated good. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. We do however allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug. Dispensaries can promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also promote its sale or provide contact information to their store.

Now that those terms are more clearly laid out, Knoblich is tentatively hopeful that Kiva might eventually be able to get its original account back. She also hopes Instagram might find a way to crack down on imposter accounts like the one that drew ire from the community while posing as Kiva on Saturday.

Instagram’s official policy states that “It’s not currently possible to request or purchase a verified badge,” and that “right now, only some public figures, celebrities and brands have verified badges.” As a result, it’s incredibly easy to create convincing fake accounts—especially when a brand’s real account has been shut down.

“It would be really nice to see some sort of verification feature,” Knoblich says. “I don’t know what the solution is, but there’s got to be a better way than what’s currently happening.”

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Meet the Cutest #DogsofCannabis on the Internet

You’ve heard of winery dogs—but did you know about #dogsofcannabis? First used by one bobby_bongs a couple of years ago, the tag has garnered less than 100 posts to date on Instagram—but the ones it has accumulated feature the cutest pups ever.

Honestly, we can’t quite tell how all these dogs connect to cannabis: some seem to be CBD pup patients, others live at cannabis farms, a few may simply be owned by cannabis consumers, and some seem to have no connection to cannabis whatsoever. Either way, we’re loving this niche hashtag. Check out some of the adorable pups we tracked down on Instagram living the canna-life.

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#dogsofcannabis

A post shared by Andi (@effysax) on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:36am PDT

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Editor’s note: While CBD can benefit dogs and cats with certain medical conditions, never allow your pet to consume your cannabis—THC can make them extremely sick. Here’s what to do if it happens on accident.

What Is Influencer Marketing and How Can It Help Cannabis Businesses?

Leafly is the first ever cannabis company to sponsor SXSW, and as we gear up for this year’s festival, we decided to take a look at one of the most crucial pieces of any successful brand: influencer marketing. With cannabis restricted by the federal government, many standard marketing platforms are off-limits. Because traditional marketing efforts off the table, cannabis brands have to be incredibly creative to ensure their campaigns are successful.

We spoke with Dominick Damico, the founder of Adspire, the world’s fastest growing influencer marketing agency dedicated to cannabis, to see how cannabis businesses can make the most of their brand by using outside influencers to boost their audience and maximize their marketing impact.

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Leafly: What is influencer marketing?

Dominick Damico: Influencer marketing is the usage of people and platforms to drive a brand’s message to a target market. The influencer can be a person, a website, or a social media page. Essentially, any person or platform that has influence over an audience can be considered an influencer.

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What are some examples of different types of influencers?

  • Niched: These influencers are typically devoted to a specific market or subject (ex. Cannabis / beauty / sports / etc.)
  • Celebrity: These influencers are traditional celebrity types (artists, athletes, entertainers)
  • Social: These influencers found their fame through social media platforms
  • Micro: These influencers have a small amount of influence, but they can be useful when brands are looking to activate many niches at once
  • Localized: These influencers and their content are typically localized (ex. “Seattle Stoners”)

Influencers can fall under more than one of the categories above. For example, there are localized-micro influencers, and there are social-niched influencers.

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What are some of the challenges of achieving impact through influencer marketing?

The number of followers does not necessarily equal impact. Bigger is not always better. Many brands make the mistake of judging the value of an influencer based on how much influence they possess. Engagement rate is the holy grail of measuring influencer value. This is because a 100k influencer with a 50% engagement rate gets five times more action than a 1 million influencer with a 1% engagement rate. I’ve seen pages with millions of followers that get less engagement than pages 1/10th their size.

Your content and ads will not do well just because they’re going out to a lot of people. There is a misconception that influencers have the magical allure of getting their fans to do what they want. Just because you post your products, content, and ads on influencer platforms in the same industry, doesn’t mean you will get results. They need to be aligned with your content style, focused on value-add, and consist of a well thought out advertisement or post. It’s no different than any other advertising methods. Bad ads and content will always perform badly.

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When do you think paid digital marketing channels may be available to cannabis brands? What about print/traditional marketing?

Hard to say. I’d imagine even if Google, Facebook, etc. does want to get on board, their legal team will give them the thumbs down due to the current federal standing of cannabis. I would guess 3-6 years for USA advertising only, or whenever cannabis is no longer a federally illicit substance in America. As for the rest of the world, I have no clue.

I do believe that print advertising at a local level is easier to access. This is because local print works within the jurisdiction of state lines, where cannabis is legal. It’s different for these digital companies that have an international presence and have much more pressure to abide by federal law compared to the local print companies complying within their jurisdictions.

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Do you have any tips to run a successful influencer marketing campaign?

  • Keep up with social rules and algorithms: Social media platforms are always changing the rules of the game. Companies that don’t stay nimble and up to date on the latest rules can miss out on changes required to maximize success.
  • Keep up with the latest marketing trends: Take some time out of each day to go through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and platforms of interest. This will help you recognize what is working well for other pages and companies. It helps you to identify successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies without having to spend your own money to find out.
  • Follow page patterns: If an account only does direct photo posts, try to format your marketing campaign so that specific influencer drives your goal with a direct photo post.
  • Be good to the influencers you work with: At the end of the day this is a relationships game. Everyone knows everyone and if you screw over an influencer, other influencers will find out about it and won’t want to work with your company. These influencers get plenty of opportunity. At the end of the day, they are going to want to work with people they like who treat them fairly.
  • If you aren’t sure how to do all of this, outsource it to Adspire: I’ve watched new companies waste thousands of dollars on influencers and campaigns that absolutely bombed due to their lack of expertise. We’ve got the knowledge and experience to make your influencer marketing campaign a success.

You can hear more about influencer marketing at the SXSW Conference. Leafly will be sponsoring a three-part track of cannabis programming, including one keynote speaker and two panels, on March 14, 2017.

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10 Cannabis Instagram Accounts to Follow in 2017

If you’ve noticed a drop in the amount of cannabis-related content on your Instagram feed, it’s probably not just your imagination. The iconic social media site has recently shut down a number of cannabis based accounts in the past few years – even those produced in countries like Canada, where medical cannabis is federally legal.

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of pages that are still active and updating as of February 2017. Join us on Instagram and restock your feed with images of top growers, beautiful glass art, and insightful information.

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1. Nugshotsnugshots-instagram

@Nugshots is all about professionally photographed buds, specializing in macro shots of flowers. This page takes incredibly high-quality images of different strains, allowing the viewer to compare different types of cannabis side by side.

2. Dankshire

dankshire-instagram

This one’s dedicated to all the dabbers out there! @Dankshire_ specializes in capturing concentrates in their most photogenic form. The page also shows off some amazing macro cannabis photography, and has absolutely radiant live plant shots.

3. Devils Lettuce Photography

You’ve seen the finished product, but how much time have you spent appreciating the whole plant? @Devilslettuceph is dedicated to showcasing the majesty of live cannabis, admiring the variety between individual plants, and cultivating interest in its medicinal value.

4. Karl Kronic

instagram@Karl_Kronic’s page is full of some of the most captivating images of cannabis on the internet. Each photo in the series is truly a work of art on its own. Featuring gorgeous side by side comparisons of purple and green flowers, plenty of sticky trichome action, and joints covered in honey oil  and kief that will make you want to take up aesthetic rolling.

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5. Heady Hawaii

heady-hawaii-instagram

Producing some of the most unique and vibrant glass on the market, @HeadyHawaii is guaranteed to drop your jaw daily. Almost all pieces are for sale, though most, like this gorgeous glass sculpture, look like they belong in a museum.

6. The National Joint League

the-national-joint-league-instagram

The National Joint League: Brought to you by the cannabis enthusiasts who really paid attention in art class. @TheNationalJointLeague is a competition which encourages users to submit their home made, smokeable sculptures. Followers of the page are able to vote on their favorite joints in this elimination style game.

7. Illadelph Glass

illadelph-glass-instagram

@Illadelphglass specializes in one thing: Crafting glass that looks like it’s meant to be smoked inside of a laboratory. Whether you’re into glow in the dark bongs or psychedelic Sherlock Holmes pipes, these meticulously made pieces are sure to find their way onto your wishlist!

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8. Academy of Cannabis Science

academy-of-science-instagram

Get to know your favorite plant a little better with @AcademyofCannabisScience. Here you’ll find facts about cannabis, amazing microscopic images, and profound quotes from some of the most well-respected minds of our time. Whether you grow, sell, or just appreciate the plant, this page is a surefire way to boost your cannabis trivia knowledge.

9. Mothership Glass

mothership-glass-instagram

For dab rigs and glass that are a head and shoulder above the rest, look no further than Mothership Glass. @Mothership_glass specializes in variety-producing pieces to suit anyone’s taste. Whether you’re into space, steampunk, or just plain spectacular art, check these guys out and just try not to get lost in the details.

10. The High Circle

the-high-circle-instagram

Want to learn how to identify quality bud? Then look no further than @Thehighcircle. This page is filled stunning shots of live cannabis plants, expertly rolled joints, and top shelf nugs that will make your mouth water.

That’s a wrap! Enjoy getting reacquainted with the cannabis community by exploring your newly expanded Instagram account!

MassRoots Note Default Raises Questions About Company’s Future

Is MassRoots in a temporary cash-flow pinch, or is the company in deeper trouble?

The CEO of the cannabis-focused social network told investors yesterday that the company is “in a stronger position than ever,” but a number of recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings have raised questions about financial situation of the Denver-based company.

As first reported Tuesday morning in Business Den, the Denver business news website, MassRoots notified the SEC on Sept. 21 that the company had defaulted on a $1.5 million promissory note. When the six-month convertible note, issued in March, came due Sept. 14, the company was unable to make the required payments, it said.

A promissory note is a simple type of loan sometimes used by companies to bridge a temporary financial shortfall. Investor A gives money to Company B, and Company B agrees to repay the money by a specified date. It’s a legally binding IOU, essentially.

MassRoots has raised more than $5 million in capital investments since 2013, and made headlines as “The First Weed Tech IPO” when it went public at $7 per share in April 2015. The company’s stock currently trades on the over-the-counter market at around 50 cents per share under the ticker MSRT. In April of this year, the company applied to become the first cannabis-related stock listed on the NASDAQ. The exchange ultimately rejected that request.

Yesterday, five days after notifying the SEC about the note default, MassRoots Chairman and CEO Isaac Dietrich issued a letter to the company’s investors. Dietrich gave an upbeat overview of the company’s financials, and reported excellent second quarter results: “we generated more revenue in a single quarter than in all previous quarters combined.” Since July, Dietrich wrote, MassRoots has eliminated 14 of its 33 full-time employees and cut $146,000 in monthly expenses. The company recently partnered with the cannabis business intelligence firm Headset to develop business data products.

An earnings report filed by MassRoots earlier this year disclosed that $320,000 in advertising contracts were signed during the first quarter of 2016, the Business Den report noted.

Dietrich’s letter issued Monday made no mention of the promissory note default. The CEO assured investors that “MassRoots is in a stronger position than ever while the 2016 elections have the potential to significantly accelerate the growth of the cannabis market.”

Leafly reached out to MassRoots earlier today for reaction to the recent SEC filings. The company’s spokesperson declined to comment.