If your mom is on Facebook, and you are on Instagram, chances are, your much cooler, younger sibling is on MassRoots. Never heard of it? In short, MassRoots is the social media equivalent to sitting in your basement, passing a joint, hanging out with a bunch of friends…or as they’re called on MassRoots: buds.
With Apple’s recent decision to loosen its restrictions on marijuana-related social media apps, MassRoots is poised to experience a surge of new buds. With this surge, the MassRoots community has the potential to explode, digitally connecting the $2. 7 billion industry with the community that supports it. While the online sale of marijuana has been around for years, the social component creates the potential for rapid economic growth, as seen with other social platforms like Pinterest.
We had the opportunity to chat with MassRoots founder, Isaac Dietrichdiscuss his thoughts on the ever-changing landscape of the cannabis and social media universe. Oh, and we may have gotten a contact high in the process.
CB: What was the genesis of MassRoots?
MR: MassRoots was a “high”dea one of my best friends, Tyler Knight, and I had while we were blazing in his college apartment in April 2013. Basically, we thought of all of our friends who smoked, almost none of them posted about it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter because their bosses and family were connected to them on these networks. We wanted to create an environment where people could feel comfortable sharing this aspect of their lives, which eventually came to be MassRoots.
CB: Aside from the obvious legal restrictions, what are some of the bigger challenges you’ve faced?
MR: During the summer of 2013, we pitched over 20 Silicon Valley VC funds on MassRoots – they loved the idea, but were unwilling to invest in any marijuana-related business. Fortunately, we were able to get introduced to the ArcView Group and have now raised $1.4 million. But without the ArcView Network, we would have most likely failed back in 2013. Lack of capital from traditional sources is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry.
CB: People have always been passionate about pot. Now, they have a platform to express that love, in a digital way. How does the marijuana crowd communicate differently?
MR: Communities on other social networks, especially anonymous ones like YikYak, turn out to be extremely negative and focus on spreading rumors. The MassRoots community is radically different – it’s full of positivity, support and love for the cannabis plant. Cannabis is so special because it makes people feel relaxed and allows them to escape from the negativity that surrounds us in everyday life; that’s exactly the type of environment we’ve helped foster on MassRoots.
CB: What are some of the more unique stories online casino you’ve seen shared on MassRoots?
MR: Cannabis brings people together across all sorts of ethnic, social, political and income divides. It’s awesome to see people from so many different cultures coming together over their common love of marijuana. At one point last year, we had a user in Iran who could have probably got sentenced to death for being on MassRoots, but cannabis meant that much to him. We also just saw our first wedding from people who met on MassRoots back in 2013!
CB: What is your favorite trending hashtag on MassRoots?
MR: #ScenicTokers – It shows the beauty and creativity of the places where people love to smoke.
CB: MassRoots is the ultimate in niche social media, appealing to pot lovers. Many Americans are occasional pot smokers, or use it for medical purposes. How does Mass Roots appeal to those folks?
MR: We started by creating a network for hardcore cannabis enthusiasts, people who consume on a daily or weekly basis, because they were the people most likely to join and engage with our network. Now that we’ve built up that initial user base, we’re starting to expand the reach and utility of MassRoots to appeal to the more casual consumers. It’s no different than Tinder — it started with the sluts before expanding into the general population.
CB: Many say the pot is the next boom industry. How does MassRoots appeal to companies and advertisers looking to reach this community?
MR: MassRoots allows businesses marketing to the cannabis community to maximize their lead on target. Unlike other forms of advertising like magazine, banner and display ads that are seen by the general population, every dollar spent on MassRoots advertising puts their product and service directly in front of cannabis consumers who are actively engaging on our network.
CB: MassRoots is a private social platform, which I feel reflects this country’s relationship with marijuana. As the legal restrictions surrounding marijuana crumble, do you foresee a time when MassRoots no longer needs to be private?
MR: Well, MassRoots is actually semi-anonymous, which means people can choose to reveal their identity through pictures, comments and links to other profiles if they so choose. When we were first getting started, the vast majority of our users were anonymous and revealed as little information as possible. Just in the past six months, we’ve seen a massive increase in people choosing to disclose their identity; the stigma is crumbling more rapidly than most people realize!
There is little question that MassRoots will be a major player in an already booming industry. Whether or not its users can harness the community to effect real change is what we’ll be watching for. In the meantime, we’re going to sit back, relax and enjoy the #ScenicTokers.