Alcohol-Related Facebook Posts Fuel Drinking Desires

February 11, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Like, comment, or share that article about drinking, and you'll likely experience a greater desire to knock 1 back, according to Michigan State University (MSU) research.

Like, comment, or share that article about drinking, and you’ll likely experience a greater desire to knock 1 back, according to Michigan State University (MSU) research.

The study, published in Mass Communication and Society, involved more than 400 participants who viewed 3 Facebook posts: 1 was a pro-alcohol marketing post, another had an anti-drinking message, and the last post was an ad for a product unrelated to drinking.

The participants’ tendencies to interact with the alcohol-related post strongly predicted their intentions to drink, especially when the Facebook posts had a large number of likes and shares, according to the study.

Surprisingly, participants were more likely to consider drinking when an alcohol-related post was paired with an anti-drinking post.

Saleem Alhabash, assistant professor of advertising and public relations at MSU, said in a press release that this result was surprising, especially considering that common thinking in the marketing world is to advertise with other alcohol brands. The fact that participants were more likely to desire to drink if they also saw an ant-drinking post complicates that line of thought.

“[A]lcohol marketing on social media reflects a social norm of alcohol consumption, which leads users to consume more alcoholic drinks,” the study authors warned.

While social media accounts cannot market alcohol to underaged youth, it is still possible for alcohol-related posts to appear in the Facebook newsfeeds of those aged <21 years.