International Cannabis Day 2012 has come and past, here is a report of activities and reach.
[International Cannabis Day - CannabisDay.org]
International Cannabis Day 2012 marks the second year since CannabisDay.org was registered. The goal of Cannabis Day is to spread the concept of a day of celebration of the cannabis plant. As 420 is so entrenched in US culture April 20 was chosen as a suitable date. Cannabis Day builds on this and rebrands for a global and more mainstream audience. It also tries to encourage those who appreciate cannabis to come out of the shadows and comfortably show their support. Thus, helping to break the stigma surrounding the topic.
The idea is that if someone hears the link (Cannabis Day – April 20) via social media, conversation with friends, in a newspaper or radio show they will then (if interested) search online and find CannabisDay.org. At time of writing Cannabisday.org is #2 search result for “Cannabis Day” in google (after a wikipedia article on 420). Once at the site people are encouraged to find out more about the truth about cannabis, share this with their friends and family and also participate in the celebration of the cannabis plant.
CannabisDay.org is non profit venture. The site and social media channels are run by one person (me) in my spare time. I also cover the hosting costs. In the run up to International Cannabis Day 2012 the focus was on developing the branding for the site. The hope for the run up to 2013 is to concentrate more on content and offline promotion. This will require more capital and it is hoped that the model that has emerged in this last two years will convince sponsors that there is value in supporting this exercise. The inspiration for Cannabis Day comes from Earth Day, which coincidently is the following day.
Website – CannabisDay.org
The hub for Cannabis Day activities is the website CannabisDay.org. From here you can link to all the various social media platforms and also follow links for more information on other sources. April 20 2011 saw around 500 unique visitors and April 20 2012 had around 3000 unique visitors hopefully a trend that will continue for next year. There was no promotion other than maintaining twitter and facebook accounts.
2012 saw the launch of a new branding for Cannabis Day. This offers a fresh style that is aimed at a mainstream audience. From feedback on social media and news coverage it can be said Cannabis Day succeeded in this goal.
Once at the site, visitors are presented with 3 steps; learn, share and celebrate. They then see a map of the world where they were able to add events. They could click a button and add an event anonymously. As April 20 hit it was apparent that this was being abused and the button was removed and a screenshot of the map was posted in its place. This feature was a victim of its success and the process for adding events will be reviewed for Cannabis Day 2013.
Cannabis Day events
For the event map 74 events were logged. Most were in the US and were well established 420 events, although there are others in Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Sources for these events were Cannabis Culture and CelebStoner who both present a great roundup of events. Both are credited with links back to their pages. Other events were user submitted via the online form or to the facebook page or twitter account.
Cannabis Day press coverage
As mentioned previously, the goal was to get (or strengthen) the association with April 20 and the term Cannabis Day. Two years ago there was no mention in the press of these two combined (at least I could not find any). This year there were a lot. It is impossible to say if the Cannabis Day project was responsible for this, however, in some cases stories linked directly to the site.
Articles linked directly to CannabisDay.org were found in Bloomberg’ s Business Week web site and France’s Le Monde (French equivalent of New York Times) website. These links suggest that Cannabis Day achieved it’s goal of a) being mainstream and b) going global.
Many more articles mention Cannabis Day which helped to boost the website traffic especially on April 20. For example Jerusalem Post, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Sky News (AU) and Madagascar Tribune. It was surprising to see the sources, for example even GOP bloggers were talking about it and questioning the “war on marijuana”.
Cannabis Day social media
Cannabis Day has a presence in twitter @cannabisday420. The twitter account had a count down to April 20 and also retweeted and followed those that mentioned @CannabisDay420, “Cannabis Day” or #CannabisDay. This tactic helped boost the number of followers to over 400. Retweets from accounts with many followers also helped, such as High Times editor @DannyDanko, reform groups such as @Moms4Marijuana and others around the world.
The Cannabis Day facebook page was more popular with 2400+ likes. In 2011 a lot of time was invested in posting messages on other pages in Facebook. However, this method was not pursued in 2012 and the account was left to build organically whilst the focus was on Cannabis Day specific news and milestones. The editorial philosophy attempts to maintain a non political stance and focus on a positive celebration of the cannabis plant in all its forms. The facebook page is open for others to post their articles to great effect with people sharing music, ebooks and links to their organisations.
2011 focused on getting the name out, 2012 focused on developing the branding. 2012 saw an increase in web site traffic, a better ranking for the phrase “Cannabis Day”, more followers in social media and articles from mainstream news organisations. In the run up to 2013 the focus will be on building strategic partnerships to help increase offline promotion.