Authors: James Nicholls
Title: Everyday, Everywhere: Alcohol Marketing and Social Media—Current Trends
Journal: Alcohol and Alcoholism, (2012) doi: 10.1093/alcalc/ags043 (First published online)
Aims: To provide a snapshot content analysis of social media marketing among leading alcohol brands in the UK, and to outline the implications for both regulatory policies and further research.
Methods: Using screengrab technology, the complete Facebook walls and Twitter timelines for 12 leading UK alcohol brands in November 2011 were captured and archived. A total of 701 brand-authored posts were identified and categorized using a thematic coding frame. Key strategic trends were identified and analysed in the light of contextual research into recent developments in marketing practice within the alcohol industry.
Results: A number of dominating trends were identified. These included the use of real-world tie-ins, interactive games, competitions and time-specific suggestions to drink. These methods reflect a strategy of branded conversation-stimulus which is favoured by social media marketing agencies.
Conclusion: A number of distinct marketing methods are deployed by alcohol brands when using social media. These may undermine policies which seek to change social norms around drinking, especially the normalization of daily consumption. Social media marketing also raises questions regarding the efficacy of reactive regulatory frameworks. Further research into both the nature and impact of alcohol marketing on social media is needed.