TikTok seems to be staying in the U.S., thanks to a deal in the works with Oracle and Walmart to own a 20% stake in ByteDance’s American operations.
This is great news for dancers. It’s also great news for the CBD industry.
TikTok is an untapped marketplace for CBD wellness brands if they are willing to make creative adjustments to work around the app’s restrictions. By this point, both the hemp and cannabis industries are accustomed to social media restrictions. The growth for brands that ride the wave now will pay off down the road.
TikTok is an e-commerce goldmine. It is a powerful tool, particularly in discoverability. People can find offerings through hashtags and its “For You” page organically. There are 800 million monthly active users on the app worldwide. Today, the number of monthly active users has reached 100 million in the U.S., up nearly 800% percent from Jan. 2018, CNBC reports.
One CBD company that has found success on TikTok is Cannabombz. The CBD topical brand is known best for its namesake bath bombs. Lindsey Corum, CEO and Founder, launched Cannabombz out of her home office in 2016. Based in Chandler, Arizona, the company uses full-spectrum hemp produced on a small farm in North Carolina.
“We’ve had a TikTok since about January of this year,” says Corum. “I was late to the game. I did the whole, ‘I don’t get it’ thing that Millennials are doing.” Cannabombz content aims to educate the audience on CBD and its benefits. Posting regularly, the company saw a few thousand views consistently per video.
Then, a viral video changed everything.
“Moments before I posted it, I said to my partner, ‘I don’t know how to TikTok. We’re just going to post it, I think it’s good?’ I had it open in my drafts for an hour and a half trying to make this TikTok perfect,” says Corum.
On August 30, 2020, Cannabombz posted a simple question as a bather drops a bag of fizz into the bath. “Have you ever soaked in 800 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD before? It. Is. Life-changing,” the video says.
The TikTok took off. It now has over 1.9 million views, 243,500 likes, 2,600 comments, and 18,400 shares from users across the world.
In the 24 hours that followed, the small company saw a $25,000 spike in sales. That is 50 times its sales for a normal 24-hour period, as the day prior saw about $500 in sales.
“The numbers just kept going and going and going. I had posted it later so I stayed up all night responding to questions, interacting with comments. That helped,” says Corum. “That’s how the algorithm works, from what I understand, based on the level of interaction. I was up til 6 a.m. answering questions. I slept briefly, until 9 a.m., then I went to work.”
Cannabombz is no stranger to social media. The company built its reputation on it, beginning on Instagram in December of 2016. In four years, Cannabombz grew its Instagram following to 22,200 followers. In 9 months, Cannabombz amassed over 53,600 followers on TikTok. More impressive is the sales growth seen following the viral video.
In the 4 week time-frame since its posting, sales revenue for Cannabombz increased 623% and individual orders are up by 839%.
There is no exact “secret sauce” for a viral TikTok video. “I don’t know if it was the question that grabbed it, the hashtags I used, the music clip, the time of day, I have no clue,” says Corum. “All factors helped. I’ve had a lot of people comment and say it came up on their For You page. I used hashtags #fyp, #foryou and #foryoupage. I also picked a song that was trending.”
The app remains relatively uncrowded for CBD brands. “I haven’t seen any other CBD topical companies,” says Corum. “That was also the case for Instagram in 2016. There were not any CBD topicals on it in the beginning. It’s come around again now with TikTok. There is little-to-no CBD education out there on TikTok.”
An excerpt from TikTok’s Community Guidelines on Regulated Goods:
“We prohibit the trade, sale, promotion, and use of certain regulated goods, as well as the depiction or promotion of criminal activities. Some content may be removed if it relates to activities or goods that are illegal or regulated in the majority of the region or world, even if the activities or goods in question are legal in the jurisdiction of posting. We allow exceptions for content that provides value to the public, such as educational, scientific, artistic, and newsworthy content.”
The cannabis community thrives in the shadows on TikTok, in spite of it being a “regulated good” that is prohibited by the app’s Community Guidelines. Any buds, paraphernalia, or plants posted will be quickly taken down. Regardless, stoner influencers have gained notoriety. They operate under the hashtags #420family, #st0nie #st0nerthings. One popular community called #cannamomsoftiktok has over 21 million views. Another hashtag, #hitsblunt, has 28.2 million views. Influencers put “21 and up” in their bios, explain their content is a joke, and use emojis instead of saying cannabis, weed, pot, or blunt. The goal is to not be flagged or removed. Much like Instagram, TikTok will remove cannabis-overt posts quickly. Ancillary cannabis companies, like @KushKards, have taken up space with success.
CBD content has been able to flourish more openly than cannabis on the site. It’s been praised by some of the biggest skincare TikTokers, including @WhatIsOnVsFace and the well-known @SkincareByHyram. One CBD educator @FiddyShadesOfGreen has 371.9k followers. Regulations for hemp and CBD are more lenient, as CBD is legal in the majority of international markets, including China (albeit strictly for beauty products).
Advice for other entrepreneurs on the app? “You’ve got to really try to ride the wave of it getting popular. And then you’re in. Keep at it,” Corum says. “Your first video is not going to go viral. I learned from this experience, there’s no perfect recipe for this video to go viral.” Aim to educate the audience, Corum says. “Education is power. Know your stuff, know the answers to any question that could be asked.”
Since the video’s success, Corum says TikTok is higher up on her priority list. “I was putting most of my eggs into the Instagram basket, now I have more than double the number of followers on TikTok than I gained on Instagram in four years.”
“My 11-year-old son asked me if I wanted him to link my Instagram to my TikTok. I am Mom Of The Year right now to him,” says Corum. “He can’t believe I went viral on TikTok.”