Why can't you advertise your CBD business on Social Media?
The answer in it's most simple form - no one truly knows!
The platform seems to treat CBD as an illegal product, despite the fact that hemp-derived CBD was legalized with the passage of the 2018 FARM BILL in the USA, and the more recent change of its status in the UK to be included in the Novel Food act (ensuring CBD products being sold are well regulated, which in itself should be reason enough to consider this something you're able to advertise freely).
It's a problem that the vast majority of CBD businesses will have encountered, and one that still puzzles people to this day.
Some CBD brands may have unknowingly been banned after trying to run an advert... Perhaps you've just set up your new Facebook and Instagram page and wanted to take advantage of one of the most effective forms of advertising for small start-ups - paid social ads. As you go through the process everything seems fine, you're told which guidelines to abide by (which you do) and once you've settled on the target audience and imagery you send it off for review. But within the hour you're told your ad was rejected and your account is now banned! Not ideal, right?
Well if this has happened with you - you're not alone. Ad accounts across the UK have been getting banned without warning for simply attempting to run CBD ads. This is a shame, as it's such an effective route to reaching your audience in the digital age and especially so during the COVID experience. Another issue here is that unless your spending big money (and by big, we mean a very large amount) on paid ads on your account, you won't actually have an employee of Facebook to speak to and all your ads and appeals will be approved/rejected by an algorithm. This can leave you with some confusion and no way to understand how to approach getting your ads approved - doubly odd considering Facebook have made statements saying that, while restricted, CBD can be advertised through their platform.
Can you get around this?
There are, however, ways in which you can bypass Facebooks algorithms. There's a lot of information online on techniques that will get you past the algorithms - but at what cost? When you have your ad account banned it is most often permanent, with an appeal of its ban most likely futile. This in itself is bad practice from Facebook as knowing that people are being banned without knowingly breaking any rules, they are then forced to create new Facebook accounts each time if they are determined to have their products rightfully seen by customers on the digital space.
At the most basic level what you will need to do is essentially remove all evidence of your products containing CBD - this is both by not including the words in your text of the ad at any point as well as ensuring it's not seen on any products in the image you use. This in itself isn't ideal as you're already diluting your ad and essentially making it harder for potential customers to understand what it is your trying to show them. This is also before considering all the normal guidelines in which you must ensure there isn't too much text on your imagery as well as some inconsistent rules regarding how much of the image itself can be filled with products.
For a more detailed breakdown of how you can go through this process to try and get your CBD ads working, check out one of the following links that we found helpful: PrograMetrix, LiftIntent, Sociallyin.
So, when will be free to advertise our CBD products properly?
There is no news on the horizon (that we know of) that will get us out of this dark age of digital CBD advertising, and although we would welcome it - given Facebooks inconsistency with what they say and then allow in practice, we wouldn't be surprised if a statement from them on relaxing their rules on CBD meant nothing.
We do hope, however, that the Novel Food act and CBDs new place within it may mean better days are to come for digital advertisers in the CBD market. Once it is clear that products in the industry here in the UK are being regulated to such a level and it is more common place - we hope that the rules for advertising these products will be released completely. If the industry applies by all the laws and rules the Government has set out for it, then surely it cannot be seen as anything other than a normal, healthy, plant based product and advertised freely.
We won't hold our breaths, but if any real changes do come - we will be sure to let you know first hand!