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Social Media Alcohol Advertising, Influencers, and the Impact on Youth

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In the last decade, social media has taken the world by storm. Not only are these sites supposed to make it fun and easy to connect with friends, but also in more recent years, brands have started using these platforms for marketing. Many people have also turned their social media accounts into a personal business.

Social Media & Alcohol Advertising

With the number of global social media users increasing 32.2% in just five years, it is not surprising that alcohol advertising on social media has grown substantially as well.1 In particular, many brands have started to advertise alcohol on Instagram since this platform has been shown to have the greatest alcohol engagement rate of social media sites at 1.53% compared to 0.14% for Facebook and 0.08% on Twitter in 2019.2 With people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, these numbers increased as well. One study found that social media engagement with alcohol brands went up 326% from March 2020 compared to March 2019.3 With ad placements in newsfeeds, stories, and posts, there are also plenty of different social media alcohol advertising approaches that brands can take. One technique that has started gaining traction in more recent years is alcohol influencer marketing.

Influencer Marketing & Alcohol Brand Partnerships

A social media influencer is someone who uses social media and online platforms to promote their personal messages. The more influence a person has online, such as followers, likes, or other engagement, the easier it is for them to partner with brands and be paid to promote a specific product. Influencer marketing as a market size worldwide was worth 1.7 billion dollars in 2016. In 2020, this number jumped up to 9.7 billion dollars and is projected to continue growing.4 Brands are becoming more aware of the power of influencers and are capitalizing on them. Not surprisingly, there has been a rise in alcohol influencer marketing. A study of Instagram posts of popular influencers found that 63.5% had recently posted about alcohol in their last 100 posts.5 Now your favorite athletes, reality TV stars, actors, and musicians all seem to be promoting their “favorite” drink through social media. Instagram, again, is the most popular platform for alcohol social media influencers.6

The Social Media Influence on Alcohol Intake in the Youth

With great influence comes great responsibility. While brands want to take advantage of social media alcohol advertising and partnering with an alcohol brand on Instagram is an easy way for influencers to make some cash, these ads could have a big impact. Because adolescents can be an impressionable group, influencers promoting alcohol need to be especially careful with what they are putting online. More and more research suggests that high exposure to alcohol on social media is connected to higher alcohol use among young people including risky drinking and alcohol-related disorders.7 As social media sites continue to grow in popularity, especially among the youth, this trend could result in an increased need for alcohol disorder treatment. A recent survey also found that 70% of teens say they trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.8 Because of the growing number of alcohol advertisements on social media as well as the potential dangers of influencer marketing and alcohol brand partnerships, countries have created some regulations for social media marketing of alcohol. Unfortunately, monitoring and regulating the online sphere comes with challenges that brands and social media platforms are still attempting to navigate. While social media can help people stay connected, it could also come with some dangers for younger generations in particular. Influencers and brands need to be conscious of what they are posting and to whom. Parents should also be aware of these trends and potentially monitor their child’s social media use. If you believe your child is starting to develop a drinking problem, do not wait to get help. Our inpatient drug rehab in Ohio helps people 18 and older get the care they need to get sober. Contact us today at The Bluffs to get started or just to learn more.

The Bluffs is a private alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in central Ohio.

The central Ohio location means we are also just a short drive (or even shorter flight) from Pittsburgh and other parts of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan.

We offer alcohol and drug detox services, dual-diagnosis addiction treatment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and more.

Our goal is always to minimize the out-of-pocket costs for patients coming to The Bluffs. We work with many major health insurance plans and providers such as America’s Choice Provider Network, Anthem, Beacon Health Options, BlueCross BlueShield, First Health Network, Humana, Magellan Health, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Mercy Health, OhioHealth, Prime Healthcare, UPMC Health Plan, and the Ohio Department of Veteran Services

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