Ball Family Farms, one of the first social equity cannabis licensees in Los Angeles, relied heavily on social media, particularly Instagram, to launch its business and promote new products before its page was shut down two months ago, wiping away the 120,000 followers the company had worked so hard to build.
Their story—and their frustration—is familiar in the cannabis industry, where businesses have long fought “shadow bans” on Facebook (when the platform omits cannabis-related pages and hashtags from users’ search results) and posts that are flagged and taken down for less-than-clear reasons.
While it can be difficult for cannabis businesses to navigate social media, Ball says it is well worth the effort.
“We can use the website some but that’s not as effective when it comes to being culturally in the space,” he says. “Everyone’s on Instagram. Everyone’s on TikTok. So, that’s where we tend to promote and create brand awareness.”
Dan Serard, director of business development for Cannabis Creative Group (CCG), a cannabis-specific marketing agency, agrees.
“It’s an amazing platform to showcase their products and really highlight their business across the board,” he says.
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As Ball Family Farms works to get its original Instagram account back up and running, it has started a second account to continue reaching its customers.
“We’ve kind of started from square one,” says Frankie Segal, a branding and marketing manager for JNF Creatives, the brand management agency that runs the day-to-day operations of Ball Family Farms’ social media pages.
The company’s backup Instagram account has amassed roughly 1,200 followers so far, and Segal is actively working to get Ball Family Farms’ original account reinstated, although it has been slow-going.
Overall, the company uses its Instagram page to promote new product launches, Segal says. “That’s our way to introduce the new strains and reach our customer base. It’s also a way for us to be able to connect directly with our customers to see which strains they want to see, which ones are their favorite, and that helps us develop ongoing strategies for whatever other products we’re going to come out with.”
Segal notes that Ball Family Farms would never sell its products directly through Instagram, and she says she is unsure why the company’s account was shut down in the first place.
“We’re not doing anything illegal,” she says. “We were basically just promoting that our product is legally available at these dispensaries.”
Nevertheless, over the past year, Ball Family Farms’ original Instagram account has had several posts flagged as violating the platform’s community guidelines. Segal says she isn’t even sure if the posts are being flagged by Instagram users or by the platform’s algorithm.
Roughly two months ago, Ball Family Farms received a message from Instagram that its account had been deactivated for violating community guidelines, and Segal and her team set to work appealing the decision.
“They keep telling us it’s