Regulating Alcohol Marketing on Social Media: Outcomes and Limitations of Marketing Restrictions of Finland’s 2015 Alcohol Act
The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the 2015 law restricting alcohol marketing on social media in Finland.
The study compared posts that market alcohol on Finnish and Swedish social media in terms of number, content, and user engagement during the month of January in three separate years: 1 year before, 1 year after, and 2 years after the 2015 Alcohol Act came into effect in Finland. The data consisted of all posts (Finland, N = 1,536; Sweden, N = 1,204) published during the selected months by alcohol brands that had active national social media accounts at the time of data collection. The coding protocol included numbers of posts and measures of consumer engagement, as well as content restricted by the law.
Social media posting increased between the 2014 and 2016 samples in both countries. In Finland, the number of posts decreased in 2017. The proportion of posts with content restricted by the 2015 law increased in both countries between the 2014 and 2016 samples. However, in Finland, the amount of restricted content decreased in the 2017 sample, whereas in Sweden it increased. The level of user engagement increased in both countries between the 2014 and 2017 samples.
The social media regulation in the Finnish 2015 amendment has had an impact on alcohol brands’ social media content, but it has not affected marketers’ ability to increase consumer engagement.