Washington DC.– Reading pro-drinking comments on alcohol advertising on social media can increase a teenager's desire to drink.
According to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, social media users who see alcohol ads are also more likely to & # 39; Like & # 39; or & # 39; Sharing & # 39; advertising when the ad has comments that drink.
"There is more information on social media than just posting or messaging. We are exposed to how other users respond to posts, and that is a response that can affect your desire to drink," Dr. Jonathan Noel, lead author research.
"Our findings suggest that comments left by other social media users can strengthen or negate messages from a post," he added.
With hundreds of company-sponsored alcohol advertisements on social media sites (with millions of Likes and Sharing), plus millions of views of alcohol ads on YouTube, alcohol companies have expanded the platform to reach young consumers.
The new study shows that industries need to improve the voluntary self-regulation system that regulates advertising, perhaps by limiting or prohibiting comments on social media advertisements. Done by Drs. Noel and Thomas Babor at UConn School of Medicine, this study involved 120 young adults, ages 21 to 24 years, who lived in the United States. Each participant saw four online advertisements (actual beer ads posted on Facebook).
The researchers then selected certain comments that would appear with advertisements – both pro-drinking comments that had accompanied the online comments or anti-drinking advertisements. Advertisements also vary on whether there are numbers of Likes, Shares, or Comments (thousands) or low amounts (tens to hundreds).
After the participants saw each ad, they were asked if they thought the ad would increase the desire to drink. The participants also said whether they would like or share the ads they saw. They received $ 10 to participate.
The lowest drink desire is found after participants are exposed to advertisements with anti-drink comments plus high "user involvement" (i.e., Likes / Share / Comments). Compared to this ad, the desire to drink was 3.5 times higher after participants saw advertisements with pro-drink comments plus high user involvement. Furthermore, compared to advertisements with anti-drink comments, advertisements with pro-drink comments leaving participants more than twice as likely to say they will like or Share ads.
"This is really interesting. Not only may these comments influence the desire to drink, but they can also increase the range and virality of the original message," Dr. Noel. Overall, though, the researchers said it was not the amount of Likes, Shares, and Comments that seemed to affect the participants but the types of comments – that is, comments for or against alcohol.
At present, alcohol advertisers have an independent regulatory system that is intended to limit the depiction of excessive use and appeal to young people, among other restrictions.
According to the researchers, the current results indicate that comments must be restricted or totally prohibited on alcohol advertising on social media. Another possibility they suggest is that companies can use the comments section to promote a message about moderate drinking and being responsible.