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Digital marketing in the age of medical marijuana

Digital marketing in the age of medical marijuana

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a digital marketing campaign isn’t complete without social monitoring. But with the increasing prevalence of medical marijuana in the country, how do you, as a healthcare marketer, respond to comments about the substance on your posts about cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain? You know the ones — “This CBD oil healed my father’s neck cancer,” or “Cannabis can save your life.” Navigating through social media channels can seem like walking through a minefield due to the high tensions and hot opinions. Here’s what we’ve found to be the best way to handle the topic of medical marijuana in the ever-changing social media sphere.

Do: Develop your stance 

You always want your company’s voice to stay consistent. If you have multiple employees monitoring your social feeds, it’s important to make sure everyone is adhering to the views of the brand in all communications. Leadership should be able to provide a concise explanation of where your organization stands on the use of medical marijuana and how much — or how little — you want to say. 

Don’t: Shame people for their beliefs  

Medical cannabis use, as well as the conditions people use it for, is a controversial topic, and people tend to get heated on either side of the conversation. Be respectful in all communications, and tread lightly. Overall, try to use positive language and a compassionate tone. The work your healthcare organization provides should remain the focus of any productive discussion. Don’t be afraid to steer the conversation away from controversy and toward the services you can speak more freely about. 

Do: Offer support and resources 

Let’s face it: Uncovering the truth about marijuana can be confusing. Between opinion pieces published online, the FDA’s lack of approval for using cannabis to treat medical conditions, and a scant amount of research compared to other substances, it can be hard to determine if medical marijuana is truly safe. 

If someone in your comments section is asking about medical cannabis, listen to their concerns, then help them make sense of this conflicting atmosphere. Suggest they schedule an appointment with one of your doctors for more in-depth information. Aim for a compassionate tone rather than a patronizing one.  

Do: Find the space between the noise 

Many healthcare systems aren’t talking about medical marijuana, so this can be a great way for your organization to stand out. Many people who use medical marijuana are too afraid to discuss it with their doctor; consider writing a guide for having these conversations. Or maybe your system has a few cannabis-friendly doctors. Identify them as resources for the community. Try to find a way to provide valuable insight to your consumers that can make them feel heard and seen. 

Should your healthcare brand talk about medical marijuana? 

Currently, there are 37 states that have legalized medical marijuana and 18 that have legalized recreational marijuana. Regardless of your stance on the subject, you’ll probably end up with at least a few social media engagements broaching the topic. It’s best to plan for these in advance so your organization can handle them with grace. When you remain respectful in digital conversations and offer helpful resources, you can maintain a reputation as a healthcare organization that people can trust — no matter what the future of healthcare or social media has in store.

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