Over the past several years, social media has grown into a—and in some cases, the—marketing medium of choice for businesses. That’s especially true for videos. For some companies that produce toys for children, “unboxing videos” can rack up millions of views and represent the pinnacle of how a company can get its product’s name out there.
Influencer Chrissy Harless, who makes videos about subscription boxes, beauty topics and cannabis, has thousands of followers on her YouTube, Instagram and WeedTube channels. And since the coronavirus pandemic has transformed daily life, her videos are providing those followers with a welcome distraction.
“I couldn’t even tell you how many DMs [direct messages], emails, comments on videos and posts on Instagram that I’ve received of people just saying, ‘Thank you for creating content that distracts me from the pandemic,’ essentially,” Harless said.
For the month of April 2020 and the date of April 20, 2020—the ultimate 4/20 that many cannabis industry members, patients and customers planned to celebrate with friends and family—most state governments have issued stay-at-home and social distancing measures. That leaves a lot of them scrambling for new ways to celebrate. Will they virtually “pass” pre-rolls via Skype video?
Thousands of these enterprising souls have already been celebrating with Harless, who has been counting down through the 4/20 month, to the 4/20 day, with the Dabvent Calendar. From BirthJays (which makes joint birthday candles) and Higher Celebrations (Higher Celebrations International owns BirthJays), it’s a take on the Advent calendar from Christmastime. For each day from April 1 through April 20, 16 influencers participating in the social media campaign pull a different cannabis brand’s products from a date-marked box on the calendar.
“I do a lot of different things on social media, but my main channel on YouTube is subscription boxes, and there are a lot of different types of Advent calendars for beauty,” Harless said. “I had never seen one for cannabis. So, I was like, ‘Yes! This is going to be awesome.’”
For cannabis companies looking to invest time, money or both into influencer marketing, it could be worth the effort. A new company called Crappy’s Feel Better Hemp Co., specializing in cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) products, boosted their Instagram followers from 90 to around 1,300 in about the course of a week following their part in the Dabvent Calendar campaign, according to a public relations professional representing Higher Celebrations.
Higher Celebrations, which launched BirthJays in May 2019, couldn’t afford to pay the 16 influencers participating in its Dabvent Calendar campaign, said Taylor Starr, marketing director for the company. But the campaign has still been a win-win, she said, as Higher Celebrations brought attention to itself and the other brands, and the influencers had something to unbox and be excited about.
“Creating these relationships with them was part of this, too,” Starr said. “We really wanted to create relationships across the board with all the brands and all the influencers as well.”
For companies that don’t have the option to pay influencers, Starr said, influencers who are lesser known or have fewer followers can still provide a good return on investment as long as they are in the right target market and have a passionate and loyal following.
“This experience has been really great [because it’s] difficult when you’re too small to actually offer something other than product to people,” Starr said. “Our company is not very big. We have two full-time employees and two part-time employees.”
Harless said she has received more followers through the Dabvent Calendar because social media users found her through participating brands and hashtags.
If cannabis companies decide to reach out to influencers to collaborate, they should be genuine and have an aligned interest with the influencer they want to work with, Harless said.
“From my perspective as an influencer, I think that a lot of brands come at me—a crazy amount of brands come at me—through DMs, through my business email and such,” she said. “It’s really easy for me to weed out the ones—no pun intended—that don’t really want to work with me, that they copy-and-pasted an email or a directive straight over to me and were like, ‘Hey, you, we’ve been really liking the content you have produced.’ Those automatically get deleted.”
In addition to the Dabvent countdown, Harless has some other 4/20 celebrations on the agenda this month.
“I partnered with a few of my most popular subscription boxes and a few brand-new ones, to promote them during the month of 4/20,” Harless said. “We’re doing some giveaways—like I partnered with The Weed Box at the beginning of the month.”
On April 20, the winners of the giveaways will participate in “a Zoom 4/20 to smoke one together,” she said. “And I think that’s going to be a lot of fun.”