The Social Media Influencers survey poll, by BPG Group and YouGov, found a need for influencers to be honest and credible in their posts with most wary of paid for posts.
Those with relevant content continue to have a strong following as they win and retain consumer trust, which ultimately impacts purchasing decisions.
The study found 85 per cent of respondents follow social media influencers in the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but about three quarters (73 per cent) can tell if their content is paid for and authentic.
Furthermore, 59 per cent are less likely to trust influencers’ reviews or recommendations if they have been paid for.
Close to four in five respondents say they are aware that influencers can buy followers, likes and comments on Instagram.
Taghreed Oraibi, business director for the BPG Group, said: "Brands and agencies alike are following international and local regulations and guidelines in a step to support authorities regulate influencer marketing and increase content transparency to protect consumers.
"Disclosure statements and hashtags are being used more than ever, hence consumers are more aware of the nature of an influencer’s content."
The positive impacts
Social media influencers who are trusted still play an important role in influencing purchase decisions.
Among consumers, 73 per cent have purchased from a brand or tried a service mentioned by an influencer and 73 per cent discover new trends by following them.
Furthermore, 71 per cent dined somewhere, 66 per cent have bought services or products using a promo code, 54 per cent have picked a travel destination and 78 per cent have followed a brand on social media due to an influencer’s post.
However, reviews from their friends and families are more influential than social media influencers.
Arif Ladhabhoy, business director for the BPG Group, said: "The survey confirms that content is the key factor driving consumers to follow influencers. Numbers still affect perception and trust, with a majority stating that they trust Macro-influencers the most, however, the content remains a priority.
"There’s no longer room for shallow content that fails to resonate with consumers or for advertising content that masquerades as authentic content."
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