In March there was considerable coverage of Vitrue’s announcement that using their social platform, they planned to bring age verification to some Twitter accounts. The idea is that liquor companies wanted to be on Twitter, but they were concerned about having under-age followers.
Now we are starting to see age verification in action.
I recorded a short video of the process as it relates to the Woodford Reserve Twitter account.
I have an email and call out to Vitrue to confirm that this is their software in action. There is no Vitrue branding on the verification on the page, so it could certainly be done by someone else.
The system isn’t 100% perfect. In Woodford Reserve’s case their account is public and anyone can view their tweets by going to their profile page.
If a liquor company’s account was private, this would be a pretty ideal solutions at least in terms of meeting a high standard for age restriction. Since Woodford’s account is public, anyone can retweet one of their tweets and those tweets can be seen by anyone in their stream.
The industries solution seems to be to add a disclosure in their tweets. Since we are dealing in 140 characters, the disclosure are likely only readable by those familiar with SMS style abbreviations (ironically those people are often young).
Based on seeing other tweets in the industry, “Msg421+” likely means that the message is intended for those 21 years of age or older.
“BrbnWskyWRDist” likely means Bourbon Whiskey, Woodford Reserve Distillery.
It feels a bit like figuring out what a custom license plate is trying to say. The disclosure comes at the end, so the “damage” is already done.
I don’t fault Woodford Reserve at all for their approach. Dealing in 140 characters is difficult, and many alcohol producers are on Twitter with only a “21+” disclosure in their bio.
Alcohol marketing on social networks is a real issue. @free had to turn down an excited sponsor because their brand was a winery. It would have been a great sponsorship, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it with the @free audience that tends to skew young.
It will be interesting to see if more liquor brands begin to adopt an external age verification system.
Thanks to Bryan @CentroCigars to mentioning his experience which led to this post.
This is an evolving issue, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.