Are CBD stores allowed to market their products on Facebook? I get this question a lot from some of my clients. Hi, my name is Francisco. I am the owner of a Digital Marketing company called Planet Marketing. We specialize in Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Remarketing. If you own a Cannabidiol (CBD) store, you may be looking at ways through which to market your products on Facebook. In this article, I am going to show you the best ways of doing so, along with some of the challenges that you are likely to encounter along the way. This article is divided into the following sections;
Does Facebook Allow Ads for CBD Products?
CBD stores sell products that, to different degrees, are infused with Cannabis. These products are either legal or illegal to different degrees, depending on where you are. And therein lies the problem. Marketing CBD products on Facebook comes with a number of issues.
That’s something that I need to mention right at the onset. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that Facebook treats Cannabis as an illegal substance. CBD products are covered by the following Facebook policies;
Illegal Products or Services
Drugs & Drug-Related Products
Ads must not constitute, facilitate, or promote illegal products, services or activities. Ads targeted to minors must not promote products, services, or content that are inappropriate, illegal, or unsafe, or that exploit, mislead, or exert undue pressure on the age groups targeted.
Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs… Avoid using images of either recreational or medical marijuana.
Ads must not promote the sale or use of unsafe supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion …Unsafe supplements, include…anabolic steroids, chitosan, comfrey, dehydroepiandrosterone, ephedra, and human growth hormones.
What does this mean?
Clearly, CBD stores face many challenges when it comes to promoting their products on Facebook. Simply put, you have to be ultra creative to get around these challenges.
The Drugs and Drug Related Products policy specifically mentions that advertisers should avoid having images of marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational.
What it means in reality is that quite a number of CBD related ads get banned by Facebook. That’s because their creators have not taken the time to analyze what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Hence I decided to write this article.
It doesn’t mean that CBD stores cannot create Facebook Ads! In fact, I have been doing it for some of my clients and the ads run just fine. The important thing is to try as much as is possible to stay within Facebook’s rules.
Even those that try to obey the laws sometimes fall foul of Facebook’s rules. So, it’s a very tight balancing act. It’s not really clear what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Some of your ads are likely to be approved, while others will not be allowed.
Facebook used to have a policy where it disallowed ALL CBD products. However, that policy was changed in 2019. The table below shows what’s allowed and what’s not allowed;
Topical CBD products
Ingestible CBD products
Ads on Facebook
Ads on Facebook
Mention product in ad
Mention product in ad
Images on ad
Images on ad
Videos on Ad
Videos on Ad
Images on landing page
Images on landing page
Video on landing page
Video on landing page
As you can see in the above table, advertising topical hemp is allowed on Facebook. However, that comes with a number of limitations. For one thing, you cannot specifically feature even these topical CBD products in your ad.
What you are allowed to direct people to a landing page on which you are selling these topical CBD products. You are not allowed to have images and videos of CBD products in your Facebook ads. If you include those, your ad will be banned.
But you can have these pictures and images on your landing page. Let me repeat here that I am talking about topical hemp products. When it comes to ingestible CBD products, then it’s still a no go area. You are not allowed to advertise these products, either directly or indirectly.
That means you cannot direct people to a landing page containing ingestible CBD products. By extension, it means CBD stores will have to have separate landing pages for topical and ingestible products.
If you use the same landing page featuring both types of products, your ad will definitely be disallowed by Facebook. So, that’s something to keep in mind. It's a delicate balancing act, as you can imagine.
What’s on your website matters
So, the sword here is double edged. When creating Facebook Ads for CBD stores, you are not just worried about what’s in your ad. You are also worried about what’s on your own website. Your ad may be in line with Facebook’s policies, but it will get banned if your website breaks the rules in one way or the other.
We have already noted that you need to worry about your landing page. That’s because Facebook uses an automated approval process. If the Facebook bots decide, as an example, that you have disallowed pictures of ingestible hemp products on your landing page, it will mean your ads will not be allowed on the platform.
How to ensure that ads for your CBD products get approved on Facebook
As mentioned earlier, all is not lost. There are a number of steps that you can take to increase the chances that your Facebook Ads for CBD products are approved;
- Your ad should not mention CBD, marijuana or hemp keywords. If you include these keywords, the ad will be banned. I know, it can feel a bit stifling. How are you then supposed to create a meaningful ad when all your keywords are not allowed? Well, there are a number of ways, as you will see.
- Instead of directly using these keywords, you should have them replaced with descriptive alternatives. How about selling; “plant extracts,” or “plant derived remedies?” Be creative when coming up with these euphemisms.
- You should have landing pages created specifically for your CBD products advertising campaigns. This is something that I have already mentioned. If you use one landing page for both ingestible and topical hemp products, your ad will not be approved. Make sure that the landing page that you create sticks to Facebook’s policies. There should not be any mention of CBD products.
- Doing what I have just described can be difficult, if you have a website that’s already up and running. As a CBD store, chances are high that you already sell both ingestible and topical products on there. Clearly, it’s sometimes impractical to remove all your other products simply because you want approval from Facebook. Another option would be to create a landing page that’s separate from your website. That way you will be starting on a clean slate. You won’t have to worry that other products on your website will lead to your disapproval.
- Do not make medical claims relating to CBD products. But you can cite renowned medical sources.
- Your domain should not include CBD or other disapproved keywords. If you do that, you can be sure that your ads will get disapproved.
- Don’t promote CBD products on your Facebook Page. If you do that, Facebook will flag the Page as you try to create Ads.
What to do if Facebook continues to disapprove your Ads
I have come across people who have spent months creating Facebook Ads for CBD stores that get no approval. If you fall into this category, then tough luck! My advice to you is that you should get in touch with me. Facebook ads are my strongest point. I do them on a daily basis.
I will carry out a diagnostic on your ads to try and find out what’s getting you disapproved. My team and I will carry out audits of both your ads and your landing pages. We will also help you create ads that get approved.
But let’s face it. The Facebook bots can have minds of their own. There are times when you create one ad after the other, all of them getting disapproved. What do you do in that case?
Well, sometimes it will be advisable to give up and move on. Facebook is not the only advertising platform out there. You can try your luck on Google, as an example. Here, there are also severe restrictions on CBD products, but not as severe as is the case with Facebook.
Creating your Ad
Hopefully, I have covered all the basics. In the preceding section, I highlighted the many challenges that stand on the way to creating Facebook Ads for CBD stores.
To be fair, CBD products are not the only ones that face these challenges. I have previously written on creating Facebook Ads for adult stores. You will also face challenges when advertising alcoholic beverages on Facebook.
Anyway, by now you should have a good idea of how to proceed. In this section, I will show you the process of creating Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads are created in Ads Manager. The process of creating them is composed of 3 steps;
- Choosing a Campaign Objective
- Setting up your Audience and Budget in the Ad Set.
- Coming up with the Ad.
Choose a Campaign Objective
In Ads Manager, the first thing that you will have to do when creating Facebook Ads for CBD stores is to choose a Campaign Objective. What is it that you wish to achieve with your Ad. Facebook provides 11 Campaign Objectives for each Ad;
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Video views
- Catalog sales
- App installs
Which one should I choose?
So, which Campaign Objective should you choose? Most people struggle here. That’s because they get into creating Facebook Ads without knowing exactly what they want to achieve.
The good thing is that you can be flexible here. There are no prescriptions on what the best Campaign Objective is. You are free to do a lot of A/B testing. Just remember to stay within Facebook’s guidelines on promoting CBD products.
For this example, we are going to go with Traffic as our Campaign Objective. We want to have people who click on our ad taken to a landing page.
Under normal circumstances, eCommerce business are better off using Catalog sales as their Campaign Objectives. You can check out my Facebook Ads for eCommerce article to learn more about what I am saying here.
The challenge is that you cannot showcase CBD products in your catalog, so, that Campaign Objective is out. The Traffic Campaign Objective will have to work with a completely new landing page, to increase the chances that our ad will be approved.
The Ad Set
The Ad Set is where you do most of the hard work as far as creating Facebook Ads is concerned. It’s where you define your Target Audience. It’s also where you lay out your budget and schedule. These are all important settings that determine how well your ad is going to perform.
Budget and Schedule
How much do you wish to spend on your Facebook Ads? The good news is that Facebook Ads are very affordable. I know, most people who approach me worry that they are going to have to rob the bank or something to get started.
That’s not the case! In fact, you can start advertising on Facebook for as little as $1. For that amount, you can either boost a post or you can create an ad that reaches hundreds of people. It all depends on your Campaign Objective.
So, how much should you ideally spend on a daily basis? Well, that depends. If you are just getting started, it’s a good idea to go for a small amount, such as $5 a day. From there, you can check out the results and tweak your spending accordingly.
One thing that you need to do in the Budget and Schedule section is to lay out spending limits for your ads. If you don’t do that, you risk racking up thousands of dollars in advertising costs from Facebook. Like Google, Facebook retains all your credit card information on file.
They will continue charging you for as long as the ad is running. And they will continue running your ad till you have told them to stop. The best approach is to have start and end dates for your campaigns.
That way, you will know how much exactly you are going to have spend by the end of a given time period. You can also set a budget for the entire campaign.
To who do you wish to have your Facebook Ads for CBD Stores shown? There are plenty of options here. That’s the power of Facebook Ads. You can target your ads at the following types of audiences;
- Custom audiences: Composed of people who have interacted with your business in one way or the other. Maybe they have been to your landing page and were tracked using Pixel. Or maybe they liked your Facebook Page, took part in an event or watched a video. Perhaps the custom audience option would not be the best here, considering the restrictions that Facebook places on advertising CBD products.
- New audiences: You also have the option to create an entirely new audience for your Facebook Ads. I will give more detail about this below.
- Lookalike audiences: These are based on other audiences that you have created on Facebook. Maybe you have created an audience that’s composed of people who have liked your Facebook Page. You can then broaden your reach by creating lookalike audiences. These would probably be composed of people who have liked Facebook Pages similar to yours.
- Saved audiences: The audiences that you create on Facebook are saved. That’s great news because it means you don’t have to create a completely new audience each time you create an ad.
Creating a New Audience
Your best bet when creating Facebook Ads for CBD stores is to create a new audience. You will then target this audience with your ad. Facebook provides you with a number of tools that you can use here;
Where do you wish to have your Facebook ads shown? The setting that you choose here will be different depending on the nature of your business. A lot of businesses out there are highly localized, meaning they carter to customers a certain number of miles from their physical locations.
CBD stores can operate either locally or in States where the sale of these products are allowed. For this example, we will assume that you operate in California, where CBD products have been legal since 2018. So, we are going to have our ads delivered to people living in this State.
To which ages do you wish to have your ads delivered? Generally speaking, California allows people who are over 21 to buy CBD products. The State is a lot more flexible than others. So, you are going to have to carry out research to find out what’s allowed in the State or country that you are targeting.
Facebook Ads can also be targeted at a particular gender. There are products out there where this may be useful. As an example, you can target perfumes for females at a female audience. And if you have created gender specific CBD products, you can use this setting to define who you wish to see your ads.
Language is another setting that you can use to define your audience when doing Facebook Ads Marketing for CBD stores. Perhaps you wish to have your ads delivered to people who speak a particular language. In this case, we will leave this setting as is.
Detailed Targeting: Demographics, Interests and Behaviors
The Audience that we have defined so far targets everyone over 18 in California. No doubt if we use this audience, we will see some positive results. However, our results won’t be great.
To get there, we need to narrow down on our audience. That’s done in the Detailed Targeting section. That’s where you zoom in on the people that you are targeting using the wealth of information that Facebook has on its users. For this example, we will target people interested in the following;
- Alternative medicine
- Hemp oil
- Natural Home remedies
- Natural product
The Ad is what people will actually see of all the work that you will do. So, it needs to be good. On top of that, you need to keep in mind Facebook’s policies. You really need to make sure that your ad does not have the disallowed passwords.
Don’t include anything to do with marijuana, CBD or hemp on there. Otherwise, you will not have success. Be creative with your keywords to make sure that you attract people while staying within the confines of Facebook’s many rules on this matter.
I started this article by outlining the challenges that CBD stores face when it comes to advertising on Facebook. I noted that Facebook frowns upon ads featuring CBD products. However, there are ways of going around this.
Hopefully, you will be able to find the right formulae for your particular business. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Otherwise, feel free to sign up for my Facebook Ads Mini Course using the section below.
The course contains videos and other materials that will help you master the art of creating Facebook Ads for your business.