13 November 2021 |

Can Weedmaps Successfully Combine Social Content With Commerce?

By Matthew O'Brien

Hey everyone,

For today’s edition of The Green Paper, I will be doing a deep dive on cannabis focused social media networks in light of Weedmaps latest announcement.

Can Weedmaps Successfully Combine Social Content With Commerce?

Breaking down the problem Weedmaps is trying to solve & the opportunity…

In light of the continued censorship of cannabis content on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok & Facebook — Weedmaps is working on a cannabis social media app in partnership with Berner, the CEO of Cookies.

“A new cannabis-friendly social platform is coming.

Together with rapper and entrepreneur Berner (founder of Cookies), we’re creating a space where cannabis brands, retailers, creators, and consumers alike can share and enjoy cannabis content more freely.”

— Weedmaps.

The problem…

In one word: Censorship.

Cannabis is illegal at a federal level in the U.S.

Consequently, many of the largest social media networks have sought to distance themselves from the industry by deleting cannabis content as well as cannabis-related accounts.

For any cannabis company, this is infuriating. 

You invest your most precious resource (time) to build a following on these platforms, only to one day receive a notification that your account has been suspended.

Despite this censorship, these social networks remain an essential resource for cannabis companies such that they can communicate with existing & potentially new customers.

The past…

Weedmaps isn’t the first company attempting to solve this problem.

Founded in 2013, Massroots was said to be “the Facebook for cannabis”.

Three years after launching Massroots had an estimated 900,000 users, however, despite their early success things didn’t work out for Massroots.

After a series of acquisitions that didn’t go according to plan, Massroots have since pivoted into precious metals.

In 2019, Berner also sought to solve this problem when he launched Social Club — a cannabis social network that looked very similar to Instagram, with the differentiating factor being their acceptance of cannabis content.

Once again, users flooded to download the app, however, just months later in 2019 Social Club was forced to shut down.

The lack of censorship gave rise to people posting a lot of inappropriate content which resulted in Social Club getting banned from the App Store.

The present…

Today, there are a number of cannabis social networks.

Consumers have choices when it comes to which cannabis social network they would like to use with Weed Tube, HighLife & CannaBuzz.

While each of these applications have succeeded in gaining early adopters — none of the apps have obtained mainstream adoption.

Why is this the case?

The primary problem each of these apps encounters is that consumers have many interests outside of cannabis such that even in spite of the censorship of cannabis content— the people who consume cannabis continue to spend more time on platforms that do censor cannabis content vs the platforms that don’t censor cannabis content.

The future…

In preparation of Weedmaps introducing its solution to solve this censorship problem, what lessons can they take from the past?

  1. Cannabis only social networks don’t receive widespread adoption (Massroots)
  2. A lack of censorship is an invitation for bad actors to abuse this policy (Social Club)

Can Weedmaps succeed?

A key differentiating factor between Weedmaps and every other startup that has sought to solve this problem is that Weedmaps already owns the top cannabis mobile app globally.

Additionally, Berner has over 2 million followers on social media, and Cookies which is one of the most valuable cannabis brands will very likely be an early adopter of this new platform.

Weedmaps also has a content partnership agreement with Kevin Durant who has 40+ million followers on social media.

Berner (L) & Kevin Durant (R)

Every day, thousands of cannabis consumers use Weedmaps to find & purchase cannabis from the thousands of cannabis retailers they work with. 

With its existing relationships, Weedmaps could work with cannabis brands and retailers to create content that is otherwise being censored by larger social media platforms today.

We will know in the coming weeks if Weedmaps intends to release a new standalone app, or if this is a new feature in its existing app.

Our Take… 

I commend Weedmaps willingness to try and solve this important problem.

This could be a very big opportunity if they can successfully combine user-generated content with their existing commerce network.