The cannabis industry has taken over Instagram, with growers, dispensaries, medical patients, and recreational users all sharing photos and information about the drug.
Over time, many active communities have gathered around various hashtags, causes, and activities on Instagram. For example, the movement to end prohibition has found a great gathering place there in order to legalize the plant and find justice for people harmed by the War on Drugs.
Social media plays a vital role in the success of cannabis businesses. With traditional advertising and marketing avenues closed off, growers and dispensaries have had to rely on Instagram to reach out to potential customers and grow their brand.
The disappointing truth is that most cannabis business owners and users worry their accounts will be deactivated without prior notice. If you haven’t experienced this, surely someone close to you in the industry has had an account with thousands of followers suddenly deleted. It doesn’t seem right, but Instagram can do as they please on their app.
Well then, how can an individual or company avoid having their Instagram account shut down? Learning more about this will be beneficial.
What Is Instagram’s Cannabis Policy?
It’s hard to tell what content is allowed on Instagram because their cannabis policy is a mystery. Many accounts feature photos and videos of people consume cannabis daily, but others get banned for similar posts. This lack of clarity often makes it seem like there’s no standard as to what content is allowed on the platform.
Deep within Instagram’s terms of service, it is mentioned that selling marijuana-related products or services is strictly prohibited. This policy includes dispensaries and any other type of business looking to sell these types of products; phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, and the “contact us” tab in Business Accounts are all not allowed as methods for promotion. The only way around this limitation is to include a website link in your bio section.
The above-mentioned should be noted as an active attempt to secure cannabis sales on Instagram will result in an immediate account ban. With little likelihood of ever having it reinstated, this sentence does not fully encompass all cases of bans and shutdowns that can occur on the platform.
This is largely intentional on Instagram’s part. By keeping their policies vague, they’re able to make decisions based on each situation instead of providing explanations upfront. Of course, this creates a very frustrating experience for users and business owners who are left trying to navigate the system without any clear guidance.
How can you keep your account from being suspended?
Avoid Showing Cannabis Consumption On Your Instagram Feed
As mentioned before, if you want to keep your Instagram account, don’t advertise or sell products on it. Additionally, you should avoid images or videos of people consuming items in them. Human moderators along with an automatic system are employed by Instagram. If your content is flagged and a human moderator looks at it, there’s a greater chance they will delete your account if there is consumptive content present.
There is no steadfast rule. As I said earlier, many notable accounts break this “rule.” If you have no affiliation to any cannabis business and only consume it for personal use, chances are you can get away with showing pictures of consumption more easily than business accounts can.
Another thing to think about is why you’re posting the content in the first place. If your goal is to remove the negative stigma around cannabis or fight for patients’ rights (just two examples), then not only do you have a personal investment in depicting cannabis use, but you might actually want people to see and know that your account exists. In these cases, getting banned might be a risk you’re willing to take because it furthers your cause. And if that happens, Instagram is usually pretty quick to reinstate an appeal
It’s better for businesses to abstinence from posting content that displaying their product. You’re probably in the clear if you just show images of your product such as plants, flower, pre-rolls, or edibles. However, to be on the safe side, only post pictures of the packaging. Make sure it is visible that nothing is for sale and refrain from conversation that would lead to a transaction; For example: Mentioning a discount.
Should You Keep Your Cannabis Instagram Account Private?
A means of avoiding Instagram account deactivation is to set the profile to private mode. In this setting, only people who you have approved as followers can see your posts. This makes sense for cannabis businesses that are regulated by strict state laws against advertising that could be interpreted as appealing to minors.
Although people often think that having a private Instagram account protects them from being taken down for sharing cannabis content, this is actually not the case. If you violate the Instagram Terms of Service in any way, having a private account won’t shield you from facing consequences. It’s difficult to say whether or not a private account helps when it comes to grey area behavior that could result in takedowns.
Though based on anecdotal evidence, private accounts most likely are somewhat more insulated. Yet this might just as easily be due to the fact that your growth potential is limited and a smaller audience makes you less of a target for censorship. Consequently, you could be compromising a larger following to have a decreased probability of being removed. Depending on your business and marketing objectives, this may be an evaluation worth doing.
A popular option, especially for businesses, is to maintain multiple accounts (this is in addition to having a back up account at all times so that you’re ready to bounce back immediately should the worst ever happen). Keep one of your accounts public, and set one to private. For businesses with multiple product lines, such an approach makes even more sense. For example, a farm might have a public account and a private account for their line of pre-rolls.
Stop Using Banned Hashtags
At present, it is an opportune moment to talk about shadowbanning in more depth. For those of you who are unaware, shadowbanning occurs when your account is still active but Instagram limits or completely stop suggesting your profile to be followed by other users. Furthermore, placement of your posts into followers’ feeds becomes rarer, making it harder for them to discover new content from you. Although Instagram has never confirmed the existence of shadowbanning, there is undoubtedly a discrepancy between how often certain types of content get widely shared in comparison to others.
A surefire way to tell if a hashtag is banned is if it doesn’t populate automatically when you start typing it in. For example, popular cannabis hashtags like #cannabiscommunity and #weedporn are now off-limits and will have to be manually inputted from beginning to end. If you use these labels anyway, your content becomes less visible to your followers.
Some people get around Instagram’s limitations by deliberately misspelling words related to cannabis culture, like #w33d instead of #weed. However, if a new hashtag becomes too linked with marijuana use, it will be deactivated by Instagram. In the past, non-cannabis hashtags like#legalizeit or #oregongrown have been removed from the site after becoming too connectedwith drug culture.
The point is, like with everything else related to cannabis, you have to adapt. Don’t depend on hashtags for people finding you- instead focus more on engagement strategies and use Instagram’s newer features, such as reels and carousels. This is one of the best ways to increase your reach.
Other Reasons Your Instagram Account Might Be Banned
Keep in mind that you’re not the only one who might lose access to their Instagram account. In fact, there are numerous other reasons why someone would be cut off from using the app, and none of them have anything to do with cannabis.
If you use a third-party app to post on Instagram, it’s only a matter of time until your account gets flagged or shut down. Apps that automatically follow and unfollow users are especially likely to get into hot water with the platform, so if you’re doing this kind of activity, be prepared for some consequences down the road.
Another cardinal sin on Instagram is incessantly messaging users, especially if you’re copy-pasting the same generic message. No one enjoys spam, and accounts that come off as trying to exploit other users or subvert the system will get banned quickly. If you must use a third party app, make sure to engage with it in such a way that resembles a typical user’s behavior – not some sort of robot.
What Can You Do To Recover A Blocked Account on Instagram?
The day you’ve been dreading has arrived. You logged into Instagram only to be met with a message informing you that your account has been deactivated. If this wasn’t the result of being hacked, then you’ll need to go through the company’s appeals process, which can be difficult to navigate, and hope for the best outcome.
The first thing you need to do is fill out the “My Instagram Account Was Deactivated” form. By doing this, it will take you through a series of steps that will help sort out the problem. Most likely, you will be asked questions regarding whether or not you believe the deactivation was done in error.
Blaming your actions on a mistake is always the best policy. Do not apologize and say you’ll never do it again as this makes you look weak and responsible. Instead, deny any wrong-doing by arguing that their terms of service are too vague to understand; this will show them that you’re smart and won’t back down easily.
eventually, give all the details they ask for and submit your form. It’s typical that you may need to wait a few days to get an answer. Sometimes you won’t get any response at all, but when you log in next time, you’ll find that your account has been restored without any explanation of what happened. Congratulations!
Though it may be challenging, don’t give up if your appeal is denied. It’s often simply a matter of finding the right person to speak to who will see things from your perspective. Be persistent–in our experience, it usually pays off in the end.
If you want to take another route, use the official contact page. The process will be close to going through your login page, but this time finding the right moderator is crucial. In other words, be active on your backup account while waiting for a decision; this can help increase your Following. And depending on what kind of account you have and why it was removed in the first place, appeals usually result within several weeks timeframe.
In essence, if you want to post about cannabis or run a cannabis business on Instagram, you need to be more mindful than other users since you’ll be held to higher scrutiny. The best way to prevent your account from being banned is by being cautious about your content and never giving the company a reason to ban you in the first place.
I hope this article was of some help. All the best for your future Instagramming endeavors!