Unhealthy food brands are using Facebook to engage with young people and share content with their social networks. Australians have enthusiastically taken to Facebook and most young teens own a mobile phone.
An Australian study looked at the top twenty-seven food and beverage brand pages ‘liked’ by Australians. They found most pages used celebrities, licenced characters popular with children and sportspeople to promote their products. Fast food restaurant pages posted special price promotions and vouchers. Facebook pages used user generated content to increase engagement and reach of their brand. Most commonly, people were encouraged to upload photos of themselves eating the product and tag the brand page when they share it with their own Facebook friends. Some pages had games such as word searches or very simple gaming tasks featuring animated animals.
The authors warn that focusing on restricting advertisements during children’s programming on television will miss large amounts of advertising to adolescents.