The more a Facebook user gets involved in alcohol-related posts, the more likely he or she is to consider drinking alcohol, a new study says.
“What we found is if people actually feel so engaged with that message and want to do something about it – like, share or comment – that it makes the likelihood of them thinking about drinking even greater,” said Saleem Alhabash, assistant professor at the Michigan State University in the US.
As part of the study, more than 400 participants were asked their feelings after they encountered and responded to alcohol-related Facebook items.
The results: The more engagement, the greater their chances are of wanting to drink.
This study has some serious implications, particularly in terms of introducing alcohol to the teenage crowd.
“Alcohol content is everywhere. Under-age drinkers will see these ads, think they are cool and then like or share. They interact with it and start thinking about it,” Alhabash added.
Social media, by law, cannot target alcohol-related content to those under 21 but “once it is out there you do not own it. You cannot control what happens to it,” he said.
The team found that the participants, who liked, shared or commented alcohol marketing messages were more likely to consume alcohol.
This was especially true when the marketing message they viewed already had high numbers of likes and shares from other Facebook users.
Oddly enough, the researchers found that when an alcohol-related status update was paired with an anti-drinking message, the person viewing it was more likely to consider drinking.