5 Social Media Rules for Highly Regulated Industries — Alcohol

Sep 12, 2019

My journey though the social media universe over the past ten years has handed me many different types of clients. Some B2B, some D2C, some SaaS and some B2C. While these categories seem cut and dry, many different types of businesses fall within those broad groups, so creating an effective social media strategy can be different depending on the type of business or client. 

I have to be honest, this series of blog posts was inspired by a real-life event. On a Friday evening, I was doing what I usually do, relaxing on the couch with a glass of my favorite wine, my little one fast asleep, while I watched some sappy network show and cruised my social networks. Well, what did you expect? A LOT of my life revolves around social media!

Anyway, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a post from one of my favorite restaurants, which will remain nameless in this blog. The post immediately caught my eye, not because of the restaurant, but because of the content of the post. It was a major bogie. Like, a really bad one. The one that gets a social media manager fired…on the spot. 

What was their cringe-worthy transgression? I took screenshots but will not share, even redacted to keep their anonymity. So the post went something like this: “Have a hard week? Well come in and drink your pain away with our featured new shot.” Seriously. I was like, say what? They didn’t just equate alcohol to pain relief and allude to drinking excessively, did they? Yes, they did. Straight up broke the alcohol on social media rules. The key with promoting alcohol brands on social media is by making sure your brand, at all times, is socially responsible: a fancy term for not promoting anything harmful that relates to your product and adhering to a set of rules and regulations. If you’re not aware of said rules and work in an industry that deals with highly regulated products such as alcohol, you should seek out those rules or an agency that specializes in those products. Today, I’ll share a few simple, general best practices, but it can get tricky as alcohol laws vary from state to state. 

Rule 1: NEVER PROMOTE EXCESSIVE DRINKING! Seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. You should never post anything like images with copy suggesting excessive drinking, binge drinking, underage drinking, drinking games of drinking liquor directly from the bottle. All of these examples throw social responsibility out the window and promote a culture of excessive drinking. 

RULE 2: NEVER MARKET TO UNDERAGE PEOPLE: Please, put age gates on your website and social pages to affirm the user’s ages! Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter all have age-gating features.  In addition, never feature images of people who look under 35. 

RULE 3: NEVER POST ALCOHOL + WEAPONS: Again, feels like an easy one, but you’d be surprised by how many UGCs I’ve come across with this duo. Never promote or encourage drinking in tandem with guns, knives or any other iterations of weapons. 

RULE 4: NEVER CLAIM ALCOHOL HAS HEALTH BENEFITS: This one really hits home for my favorite restaurant. You cannot claim that alcohol has positive health benefits such as pain relief. Just thinking about this gives me a headache (whomp, whomp). 

RULE 5: NEVER POST ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES: Just don’t go there. There are so many restrictions when you combine these products. You can, however, post cigar products with alcohol, as that duo often goes hand-in-hand such as cigars and Bourbon. 

As you can see, these best practices may seem like no-brainers, but I see violations all the time. It can be difficult to correctly balance social responsibility with your state’s alcohol laws. And believe it or not, the FTC is watching, so its best to cover your bases. 

To learn more about how we can help you with social media marketing in highly regulated industries, give me a shout.