Cannabis has been used throughout history for medicinal, spiritual and even social purposes but the plant is receiving unprecedented stigma over the last century. Rooted in the prohibition laws, the condemnation of marijuana has seeped into public perception. However, the plant is rapidly becoming more accepted over the past decades because of countercultures, advocates, and researchers.
With studies showing the positive effects of the plant, as well as supporters campaigning these findings, cannabis, and its cannabinoids, are slowly regaining their reputation as a highly medicinal and useful plant. Along with this comes the legalization of medical marijuana in many parts of the world and even the legalization of adult-use recreational products is some.
Hundreds of cannabis businesses have popped up to accommodate the increasing demand for such items. While there is no denying that the mainstream perception of cannabis has definitely improved, a portion of the public remains to be against its legalization. This and negative reviews of individuals products and brands can hurt the reputation of the industry, as well as particular companies operating under it.
What is Reputation Management?
This is where reputation management comes in. Also called online reputation management (ORM), this practice is the process of using various online and digital channels to establish and maintain a positive reputation for your brand. It uses brand management techniques to create such as image, effectively improving the business’ image while also promoting their products or services.
When talking about ORM, it is important to talk about the major sources of a brand’s negative image: bad customer and employee reviews, as well as the poor performance of the company. Inferior service, products, and employee treatment result in weak reviews from customers and employees. Likewise, negative reviews can result in the damaged image of the company regardless of whether the claims are true or not.
With this, you may be wondering how ORM helps improve the company’s image given that their rep suffered from bad reviews and performance. The simple answer is this: ORM uses marketing campaigns to create a positive image for the business while also burying sources of a bad rep. This means that the company promotes its positive attributes, makes changes to improve its performance, and takes steps to put good reviews forward.
Current Outlook on Cannabis Business Reputation
The cannabis industry has been enjoying good rep in the past years, especially with the legalization of the medical and recreational use of the plant in some places. However, it is important to remember that a chunk of consumers remains to be hesitant to participate in the sector.
In fact, a portion of the population outright rejects the plant, which comes as no surprise has given that even one of the largest marijuana markets, the United States, still has not lifted its prohibition. The US’ Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, making it illegal on the federal level. On the other hand, some states have implemented laws that made medical marijuana legal, while some legalized adult-use.
In Africa, the use of cannabis has been rooted in their history, despite the plant not being native to the region. Ancient Egyptian culture indicates the use of marijuana to fight depression and mental disorders. Currently, the plant remains to be illegal in Africa but cultivation continues with an estimated amount of more than 38,000 tons per year.
However, Lesotho became the first African country to make growing marijuana legal, making it a desirable market. In fact, the country saw an increase in foreign investment upon legalizing cultivation. Economists are also optimistic that legalization can benefit more than 50 countries in Africa with the right implementation. Combined with a high consumption rate in the region, African can become one of the most successful cannabis markets .
In terms of attitudes toward the plant, the public appears to be tolerant of its use. However, currents laws and Sharia have influences on the perception, which can affect talks of legalization.
Why Businesses Need Reputation Management
With the complex nature of cannabis perception in many parts of the world, it is important to take steps to manage the industry’s reputation, as well as your company’s image. ORM offers an effective and efficient avenue to establish and maintain a good rep. Businesses that implement such strategies can use it to do the following:
Create a Trustworthy Image
The need for ORM stems from the need to address the lack of trust created by bad reviews and performance. Such feedback damages the integrity and reliability of your company. Because of this, you want to develop an ORM strategy that can help you restore your business’s image as a trustworthy one. Creating an image that exudes honesty, excellence and dependability is the best way to go.
Publishing posts that establish your authority over the topic at hand – in this case, marijuana – is a great way to make your business appear more trustworthy. Reputation management involves addressing the concerns that customers bring to light. This means that you need to make positive changes that can make your performance more satisfactory, thus increasing the possibility of getting good reviews.
Maintain a Professional Persona
Bad reviews can also lead to your business being perceived as unprofessional. If you are going for a less casual and more formal image, then a reputation as an unprofessional can hurt your brand. ORM can help you present your company accordingly.
For many companies, establishing an online identity through their social media accounts is a great practice. By using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can highlight the professional qualities possessed by your company. This persona is equivalent to a mascot or character that asserts your business’ professionalism through timely and prompt engagements.
Provide Correct Information
Say, your business is a victim of a misleading or entirely untrue review. This can be frustrating as it can hurt your business, thus affecting your sales and target market with such deceptive info. The best thing to do about this is to clarify the misconceptions and provide the correct information to minimize issues. This is a great way to disseminate information about your business, as well as your products or services while dispelling misconceptions and correcting false info.
Improved Search Engine Rankings
Your company’s rep does not only affect the business side of it but also the digital marketing part. When a dissatisfied customer expresses their discontent about your business and your products or services, they are likely to post in on review sites such as Yelp.
Now, keep in mind that Google’s algorithm ranks your page and website in search results using several factors. This includes user reviews and site reputation. ORM helps you bury bad reviews and highlight positive ones, thus, increasing your chances of ranking high in search engine results.
Increases Employee Loyalty
Remember that your business’ reputation does not only affect your sales, target market, and your branding but also your employees. A lot of employees, current and prospective, look at reviews in making employment decisions. By making sure that you have an excellent online reputation, you can rest assured that you have higher chances of getting employee loyalty, which is better for your company in the long run.
Tools Used in Reputation Management
Now that you know how ORM can benefit your business, you want to make sure that you use this strategy along with other tools to create an effective campaign. Here are the practices that can help you create a notable reputation management plan:
You want to make sure that your cannabis company has excellent website content. You want your site to contain informational and useful texts, images, and audio-visual aids to establish your authority and inform potential customers about your offerings.
High-quality web content is not enough. You want to make sure that your website and pages are accessible to potential clients. The best way to do this is to use search engine optimization (SEO) or the process of using relevant keywords and tags when creating content.
As mentioned, social media platforms offer a fantastic opportunity to create a persona that your target market will respond to. Aside from helping you establish a positive image, it also helps you get in touch with your clients, making your brand more accessible and customer friendly.
While you have your own strategies to boost your reputation and increase sales, you can get help from an external website to help promote your brand. This can be done through affiliate marketing, which is the practice of paying commission to a third party for results coming from its referrals. You can create a stronger image by getting a reputable affiliate to promote your business.
The cannabis industry has been enjoying an improved reputation due to various medical and recreational uses promoted by researchers and advocates. However, there remains a part of the population that continues to be against the plant. Combined with negative reviews on products and brands, the industry definitely needs reputation management services. Implementing such strategies can benefit individual brands and the sector as a whole.