Alcohol advertisements on social media sites such as Facebook can increase young adults’ desire to drink if the ads contain pro-drinking comments from users. That’s according to new research in the current issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Social media users who view alcohol ads are also more likely to “Like” or “Share” an ad when it has pro-drinking comments, the new study shows.
“There is more information on social media than just a post or a message. We are exposed to how other users respond to a post, and it is those responses that can influence your desire to drink,” says Dr. Jonathan Noel, the study’s lead author. “Our findings suggest that comments left by other social media users may either reinforce or negate the message from a post.”
With hundreds of corporate-sponsored alcohol ads on social media sites (with millions of Likes and Shares), plus millions of views of alcohol ads on YouTube, alcohol companies have expanded platforms to reach young consumers. The new study suggests that the industry needs to improve the voluntary self-regulatory system that governs its advertising, possibly by limiting or banning comments on social media advertising.