At the end of 2017, I did the unthinkable and used content marketing and SEO to gain massive exposure for my brand on a national TV channel. Through doing this I learned a lot of lessons that I still use to this day in a regulated market like cannabis digital marketing. I originally published this article to Linkedin but I think it has some really valuable insights that you can execute for your cannabis brand.
How I used Cannabis Digital Marketing to gain exposure for my brand on national TV
When you run a counterculture Afrikaans brand like gevaaalik.com, it can be hard to get exposure on the mainstream Afrikaans media platforms. Yes, I’ve blogged my way into Rolling Stone Magazine and traditional Afrikaans publications like Die Beeld and Finesse Tydskrif, but the truth is that my brand is largely frowned upon because of the content of my site. Even though the brand was created specifically to be provocative, humorous and entertaining. I know that I have an audience (25 000 visitors a month on average) and that not all Afrikaans speaking people are ultra-conservative, still gaining exposure on mainstream Afrikaans media has proven a challenge.
But just last week I got back from shooting two episodes of a new TV program that is going to be on the national Afrikaans TV channel Via TV.
Step 1: Target a trending topic
Anyone that has seen my site (and everything that I’ve done there) will be able to tell you that I don’t fall into the same category as what you would normally see on Via TV. Call me controversial, call me a provocateur or call me a troll, everything that I do on gevaaalik.com is highly calculated and every piece of content has a purpose and goal.
The #ViaWMJ (Via Wat Maak Jy) competition in October 2017 was the perfect opportunity for me to create content that had another goal: Getting onto a mainstream Afrikaans TV channel.
#ViaWMJ was a competition launched by Via TV in an attempt to identify Afrikaans online content producers, like vloggers, bloggers, and Instagrammers. This gave me the perfect opportunity to crash the #ViaWMJ party by using my skills as a digital marketer to interject myself into the resulting conversations around the competition.
Let me just be clear: Even though I understood that Via TV created the #ViaWMJ competition to identify online personalities to expand their audience by working with these Afrikaans influencers, I never thought that my brand would become a part of the Via TV ranks. I fully understand the fear of being associated with my brand. But I also realized that I could rank on the first page of Google for the #ViaWMJ hashtag and gain exposure that way.
Step 2: Think outside the box with the content you create
Because my brand is already considered controversial, I don’t have to be afraid of creating controversial content. The Trial of the Plant was at the time (October 2017) ongoing in the Pretoria High Court. This was a case by Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, known as The Dagga (marijuana) Couple. I’ve had them on my podcast multiple times and decided to create a vlog about me going to the Pretoria High Court for The Trial of the Plant. The perfect opportunity for me to rock the boat of what is normally a pretty conservative Afrikaans TV channel.
The fact that Via TV was looking for vloggers was already being covered by other mainstream media publications across South Africa. My competition to rank on page 1 of Google for the #ViaWMJ hashtag was steep, but I was confident that I could create a vlog, post it on YouTube and in combination with an SEO optimized article on my site would be able to crack the first-page position for the specific keyword I was targetting.
Step 3: SEO optimization and great content is key
I’ve been creating content for over 7.5 years. I’ve also been in the deep end of content marketing and SEO for over 7 years. As such I understand the power of SEO optimization of my content.
But SEO optimization is not just for content on my site.
SEO optimization rules also exist for YouTube. Seeing as YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world it made complete sense for me to make sure I optimize the video that I create too and not just the article that I was going to publish on gevaaalik.com.
Here are the key optimizations any piece of content needs:
- Keyword(s) in title, description, and URL
- Keyword(s) in sub-headings
- Keyword(s) in image titles and image alt-text
Step 4: Just achieving search engine rankings isn’t enough – drive traffic
The following statement is highly contested in the SEO industry:
Views and clicks boost organic search rankings
I know for a fact that the more views or clicks any of my content, the better the chances are of that piece of content ranking for the target keyword(s). There are people ( and others) that disagree with me, but none the less I shared my article with my YouTube video embedded in it, onto various social media platforms to help and drive clicks, reads, and views.
I chose a clickable (some call it clickbait) title: #ViaWMJ – Hof toe dagga
Not only did my optimizing and driving of traffic lead to me ranking on page 1 of Google for the target keyword (#ViaWMJ) but my video was also within the first three results on YouTube when you searched for #ViaWMJ on YouTube for a time. Thus I fully utilized the trending keyword on both of the biggest search engines in the world.
Step 5: Strong SEO and content marketing is integral to overall digital marketing success
Digital Marketing is not as simple as just running some Google Ads and Facebook Ads. If it was, anyone would be able to do it. SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing as well as paid advertising are all crucial elements of any branding and marketing campaign. If you want to achieve your goals, you can’t afford to neglect any of the five legs of digital marketing.
Even though my campaign was initially created simply to grab the attention of viewers looking for mainstream Afrikaans media content, it also landed me a spot on two episodes of a new Via TV program. This program has also given me the opportunity to create two 50-second videos that will be aired on a national TV channel giving me massive exposure to a new audience while building the gevaaalik.com brand.
How are you using digital marketing to build your cannabis brand? Contact me to help you create a fully rounded digital marketing strategy or campaign.