Cannabis businesses continue to face inconsistencies in guidelines and arbitrary enforcement of Terms of Service by social media sites like Facebook Meta and Instagram, but social media marketing is a platform that no company can afford to ignore. Twitch, a live video streaming service primarily focused on video games and operated by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), could be a viable marketing alternative to more restrictive social media environments.
William Zorn is a Twitch content creator as well as a sales and marketing executive for the ADCANN-affiliated grnhouse agency in Toronto.
ADCANN’s website recently published a blog post about the potential of Twitch for cannabis marketing. According to Zorn, he was inspired to write the piece after speaking with hundreds of retailers who had their Instagram accounts removed unfairly.
Zorn cites a recent Brightfield Group poll that found 54 percent of gamers use cannabis before or while playing video games, with an 86 percent increase in cannabis use before/while playing video games from Q1 to Q3 2020.
Twitch has found ways to overcome several challenges posed by cannabis marketing on social media. This is something that has been crucial to Zorn’s success as a creator who makes cannabis a focal point of what he does on the platform.
Cannabis companies’ reluctance to market on Twitch, according to Zorn, stems from a lack of platform knowledge. Many businesses that want to use it expect to have a thousand active followers in a month, but that’s not how it works.
When it comes to using Twitch to promote their products, cannabis companies have several options, including the ability to participate in free direct chats on streams and hosting subscription giveaways. According to Zorn, brand engagement is largely determined by the creator’s level of comfort.
Companies can also get involved by sponsoring streams by small-scale creators who are doing interesting things, either financially or by assisting with marketing. It’s similar to the social media influencer model, but unlike Instagram, it doesn’t put the creator at risk of having their account deleted, according to Zorn.
Other content creators are wary of working with brands because it puts them under the scrutiny of the platform’s algorithms. Because Twitch is a welcoming environment for cannabis content, creators are more willing to engage with brands there. Furthermore, real-time engagement metrics on Instagram stories, for example, are difficult to come by. On Twitch, you can see how many people are watching the stream and get stream summaries to assess the stream’s success afterward.
Twitch’s Terms of Service are crucial in making the platform more cannabis-friendly than others. Many content creators and marketers complain that because Instagram and Facebook are American companies and cannabis is not federally legal in the United States, cannabis content is not allowed on those platforms.
Twitch’s policy allows users to smoke marijuana during live streams as long as they are in a country or region where cannabis is legal. In 2018, Snoop Dogg did a Twitch live stream in which he smoked marijuana. Twitch’s guidelines allowed him to do so because he was in California at the time.
While Zorn’s enthusiasm for Twitch’s potential as a cannabis marketing platform borders on the evangelical, it’s difficult to ignore the stark differences between Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) and Instagram’s approaches to cannabis content and Twitch’s.