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WKYT Investigates | Kentucky CBD company’s social media struggles

More Facebook difficulties are just the latest hurdle the hemp-based business has faced.
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST
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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Even with signs and steady traffic on U.S. 27 it can still be hard sometimes for KY CBD FARMacy to get customers’ attention.

“We can get a store right on the main drag. We can get 30,000 cars passing a day,” said owner Robert Matheny. “But when it comes down to it, a lot more people are going to see you staring at their phone than passing you on the highway. That’s just fact.”

Matheny says his business - like so many others - relies on social media to market, especially with the coronavirus cutting down on customers.

Clicks and views and shares go a long way, Matheny says, but his company instead has faced three-day bans on Facebook, been locked from inviting people to like their page, and been unable to sponsor posts to get more eyes on their products.

The problems - this time around - started after having a couple of posts taken down, supposedly for violating community standards, Matheny said. Yet he has seen other companies like his, selling products like his, have no issues posting or sponsoring posts as ads.

“They’re community standards for a reason. We follow them,” Matheny said. “We’d like to know why everybody else doesn’t have to, though. We’re a small business trying to survive through a pandemic, and it’d be really nice to have that standard instead of a double standard.”

The standards say, “We try to enforce our policies as consistently as possible,” yet it does not take long to find companies who are able to advertise CBD and hemp-based products on Facebook.

Matheny said he cannot understand why his page is continually restricted. He has appealed the restrictions and asked for clarity and consistency, but he says he has not gotten an answer.

So, WKYT InvestigatesGarrett Wymer reached out to Facebook, echoing Matheny’s concerns and asking if they could clarify the situation.

A Facebook spokesperson responded, saying in an email: “We reviewed the page and have removed restrictions, which were placed on the page in error.”

After that, Matheny was able to invite people to like his page again, but he still could not sponsor posts like many other companies can. A subsequent request for clarification or comment from Facebook - after an initial response that the issue was being looked into - has not been returned.

KY CBD FARMacy and other businesses have faced several similar hurdles over the past few years.

Two years ago, a number of Kentucky hemp-based businesses were booted from Facebook completely. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles sent a letter to the social media giant, and the pages were restored.

Later that year, a credit card vendor canceled services for many CBD companies and the like. That issue lasted several months before Matheny’s business could find a new vendor to accept them.

Matheny says he knew there would be issues like that with the industry being so new, but it is still frustrating to encounter them.

And the latest limitations on social media have made it hard for them to compete with other companies advertising hemp-based products, he said. Still, his business has grown - quadrupled, at least, he says, in the two-and-a-half years since he and his girlfriend opened the place.

“But I know if we had the proper means to advertise it would be more than that,” he said. “We want that ability.

“We’re here to help people,” he said. “And if the people don’t know we’re here, we can’t help them. That’s just basic math.”

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