With the lack of advertising available for medical marijuana dispensaries, many dispensaries, as well as growers, are looking for a way to advertise their products online. Because Google and Facebook, as well as other platforms, are not available for the marijuana industry to advertise on, many people have turned to Weedmaps, which is a website that helps to market marijuana retailers online, whether they are medicinal users or recreational users.
Weedmaps was developed in partnership with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which is an advocacy organization established over 50 years ago for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. Weedmaps acts as both a social media tool and an informational tool. Weedmaps maintains a presence on social media websites, as well as on their own website.
While other platforms do not allow marijuana retailers to market online, nor are they allowed to publish their addresses and phone numbers or website information other than on their own personal websites, Weedmaps allows dispensaries to advertise, and market to potential customers by publishing their business information. On Weedmaps, dispensaries can include the types of products they sell, and whether they are primarily a medical dispensary or a recreational use dispensary. In addition, retailers can include the prices of their products, descriptions of their products as well as photographs of their products, and if they offer discounts or coupons for their products, such as a new client discount. In addition, the Weedmaps app allows potential customers to find retailers in their local area, as well as information about the retailer and photos of the product. Researchers have estimated that Weedmaps alone generated over $30 million in revenue in 2014 alone.
Many medical dispensaries use Weedmap to advertise the medicinal properties of their specific blends found at their dispensary. For example, researchers noted that many medical dispensaries discussed the ability of some of their blends to reduce anxiety, to help with depressive symptoms, sleeplessness and pain or inflammation. In addition, some medical marijuana dispensaries that advertise on Weedmap discussed the properties in Cannabis that may help with the side effects of cancer (such as nausea or vomiting), post traumatic stress disorder, and neuromuscular disorders such as fibromyalgia.
While medical marijuana dispensaries are marketing on Weedmap, and emphasizing the medicinal properties of their dispensaries and of marijuana in general, recreational marijuana dispensaries advertise their product in a different way. First, recreational marijuana dispensaries describe each of their blends in detail, and note the flavors of each blend, and whether the blend is Indica or Sativa, as recreational users want to know what kind of blends are available. In addition, recreational marijuana dispensaries advertise different types of products as well, such as edibles, resins, waxes, and vapes for the use of their customers.
Weedmaps not only serves as a directory for retailers, but also as a social media platform with links to other platforms with information, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google +, and YouTube. While some of the social media websites do not allow any kind of content that advertises marijuana specifically, Weedmaps offers suggestions for retailers to keep a presence on social media, as well as links.
The number of followers on Weedmaps is interesting. By far, the largest number of social media followers were on YouTube, because of their informational videos as well as instruction on medicinal properties of Cannabis. In addition, Weedmaps has many followers on Facebook and Twitter, which together number 250,000 people. The website also has following on Instagram, which represents the largest increase of followers for Weedmaps in the last five years. The average age of the Weedmaps social media followers is between the ages of 21-29, were more likely to be male, and more likely to be Black or Hispanic. However, Instagram users were more likely to be White females in the same age group.
Weedmaps fee for service advertising has become extremely popular with regard to marijuana retailers, because it helps them get the word out about their products and services to the public, as well as help them advertise on social media within their social media guidelines. Retailers also believe in the mission of Weedmaps, to spread the word about a growing industry, that is rapidly expanding in both recreational and medical marijuana sales. As the number of states who have legalized marijuana continue to grow, the number of dispensaries will also grow– and because it is clear that national advertising will not be available until a federal law is passed legalizing marijuana–Weedmaps provides a much-needed service.