Willoh, A. M. (2020). Let’s have a drink, “my friend” ! The portrayal of alcohol-related posts on Instagram through Dutch social media influencers. Master thesis.
Purpose. Previous studies have investigated that peers share alcohol-related content on social networking sites (SNS) and that the exposure to these posts significantly contributes to young people ́s alcohol consumption (Chen, Grube, Bersamin, Waiters, & Keefe, 2005; Glassman, 2012; Ridout, 2016). It is argued that posts of peers are similar to posts of social media influencers (SMI) (i.e., third- party endorsers, who have a broad reach on SNS (especially Instagram) and potential impact on other users) (Audrezet, De Kerviler, & Moulard, 2018). Because of the potential impact on users, influencers are also used as a marketing tool by alcohol companies. Hence, regulations for the presentation of alcohol on social media and influencers were embedded in the Netherlands. Since academic research is lacking regarding the portrayal of alcohol through Dutch social media influencers on Instagram, this study was performed including four main objectives: the characteristics of alcohol- related posts, the commercialization in the post, user engagement and the regulations regarding alcohol display on SNS in the Netherlands.
Method. A quantitative content analysis was conducted from 120 Dutch social media influencers. Per profile, four posts (for each season) were extracted in which alcohol was portrayed. During the actual screening process, visual as well as textual components of the posts were extracted, grouped into five categories: profile of the influencer, visual and textual referral, alcohol portrayal, and laws.
In total, 37 variables were coded, and around 37000 comments were manually extracted and analyzed.
Results. Analyses explored patterns in these alcohol depictions and relationships between characteristics of these posts, the influencers’ characteristics and users’ engagements. This study examined that alcohol is mainly portrayed in positive social contexts by Dutch social media influencers. In general, branded content was limited so were educational slogans. Furthermore, if a brand was visible, disclosures of cooperation’s with alcohol brands were not clearly recognizable.
Conclusion. Given that SMI are perceived as peers, whom young people aspire, alcohol exposure can affect young people`s drinking behavior. Hence, more awareness should be created among influencers and policy makers regarding the exposure to these alcohol-related posts on Instagram.
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