For a number of years, practically every teen in America was on Facebook. Many are now migrating to Twitter but the reality of social networking as a staple of youth remains the same. Young people are interested in connecting with others through digital tools and they give a lot of credence to what they see and hear online. The popularity of social networking is proving to be a bonanza for those interested in marketing alcohol to younger markets.
Alcohol Marketers Easily Gaining Teenager’s Information
Teens and young adults seem perfectly at ease with virtual face-to-face interactions. They have little problem engaging in personal discussions via public forums where anyone can take part. This format makes it all too easy for alcohol marketers to gain information, create an online image for themselves and contribute to the corporate thinking about alcohol use.
Social networks are a great place to mine valuable marketing data. The personal preferences, interests and values of young people are out there for anyone and everyone to read. To marketers this is a vein of gold.
Social networking sites are opportunities to build an alcohol brand image. Companies can easily advertise through online games, host online events, ask for likes and use all kinds of tools to become a recognizable label. This kind of marketing allows alcohol to become an expected and normal presence in the everyday life of young people.
Social Site Pictures/Ads Glamorizing and Normalizing Underage Drinking
Pictures posted on Facebook and other social sites of young people drinking at parties and other social events show that despite public campaigns to warn young people about the risks of drinking, teens and young adults continue to accept the advertising image of alcohol as fun, normal and perhaps even glamorous. Tweets about alcohol reach more in the young audience demographic than many expensive ad campaigns.
Social Site Advertising Has Little-To-No Regulation
The practice of using online social sites to promote alcohol to young people is common and the fact is that these sites are hard to control and there is little regulation over who can sponsor it or what can be subtly advertised online. The online world is still a bit open when it comes to government oversight and regulation. Getting there fast and becoming an established presence makes it harder to garner public outcry about the dangers.
Researchers in New Zealand recently took a look at how social networking may be impacting underage drinking in that country. More research is needed because initial reports are that the impact is not helpful toward discouraging risky and underage drinking. Since social networking is a worldwide conversation, any findings in New Zealand would likely have considerable weight in assessing the behavioral and attitude impact of alcohol’s online presence.