According to an article on The Verge, if you try to advertise your CBD products on Facebook you are likely to get your ad account disabled (and maybe even your business page completely deleted). For many businesses, that would be a serious blow, so it’s not worth testing the Facebook ad police unless your whole business is about CBD.
And, according to at least one account from The Verge article, Facebook deleted one person’s entire business account: “I tried to log into Facebook, and my entire account was deleted. Like I didn’t just lose ads. They deleted my entire business account — like hit the delete button,” Rudis says. “No warning, no email. No, ‘you’ve screwed up,’ no 30-day slap on the hand, literally hit the delete button, and my entire business account was gone.”
Again, unless your whole business is about selling CBD products, then don’t buy ads on Facebook to promote CBD products. In fact, even if your whole business is about CBD, it still does not make sense to try placing ads on Facebook that have anything to do with CBD. You are better off waiting for Facebook to come around to the times and allow for the advertising of CBD products on its platform. My best guess is that they will enact that change later this year; maybe it will be quick thanks to pressure from bad coverage from places like The Verge or maybe they will make a change to coincide with new regulations from the FDA.
You might be thinking “Why wouldn’t Facebook allow for CBD ads on its platform?” The short answer is that it is making so much money from selling ads that it isn’t going to be hurt by not allowing CBD ads on its platform. Furthermore, since they are under the regulatory microscope, they may be loathe to try anything that might even be the smallest bit out of line. Instead of risking the wrath of a renegade senator who has some personal issue with CBD and happens to also sit on a committee that has some power over Facebook, Facebook would rather wait back until the point when it is 100% legal (at least federally) before opening up the ad flood gates for CBD.
It’s a very conservative move but, again, the upside for Facebook at this time is rather limited while the downside, which would be increased scrutiny from politicians and regulators (especially those politicians and regulators who already have an axe to grind when it comes to Facebook, which is just about everyone these days) that could lead to some fairly dire consequences for Facebook.
The downside of this strategy is that because they had uneven enforcement of this “no-CBD ads” policy before, they have opened themselves up to litigation from (one so far) companies that had their accounts disabled for trying to promote CBD. Still, even if they have to pay out tens of millions of dollars to these companies whose accounts they disabled that would be better than having to worry about pissing of someone who might be the deciding vote as to whether or not Facebook should be broken up. And, to be 100% clear, I don’t think Facebook will end up losing much money in any litigation brought forth by a disgruntled company that had their Facebook ads account disabled. It’s better for Facebook to just sit back and wait for 100% clear rules when it comes to CBD.
What can CBD marketers do?
Amazon is an option. You can market and sell your products there. Savvy marketers will make sure to encourage their customers to leave good reviews on Amazon, which is vitally important for these companies since their Amazon page is likely the only way they will communicate with their customers before they buy.
YouTube (currently) allows videos about CBD. While it’s possible for you to create a popular YouTube channel that discusses all of the wonderful things that CBD can do for people, the more useful route would be to work with existing influencers on YouTube to promote your CBD brand. Influencers, for the uninitiated, are people or brands, which is basically the same thing nowadays, who have sway over their niche audience. For example, you can approach a YouTuber with 100,000 followers who gives makeup tips for adults suffering from acne (yes, it can get that niche) and see if you can get them to promote your products. You will probably need to pay those influencers who have a big enough reach but the rewards can be substantial.
An alternative to the YouTube marketing strategy would be to work directly with an influencer with a large enough audience to create a bespoke brand for them. That way, it will be their brand and you would be responsible for fulfillment and all of the other business activities.
Besides Amazon and YouTube, there are other options. Even though Facebook is banning people for buying ads about CBD on their platform, you could still post on its platform. Ditto for Instagram.
And there are also offline marketing strategies as well. End caps are those displays at the end of a grocery store aisle (trust us, they work). You can also pay for placement where people checkout. Another option would be to give talks at senior living centers about the benefits of your CBD products and take orders while you are there.
In other words, just because Facebook is lowering the boom on companies that are advertising CBD products that doesn’t mean there aren’t other, maybe even better, options for advertising CBD products out there. You just have to be a little creative and you will find success.