There are calls for influencer guidelines to be given a solid footing, after a survey found over half of Irish adults are bothered by a lack of transparency in so-called influencer marketing.
A new survey from the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) found just 7% have 'great trust' in what an influencer posts on social media.
Nearly three in four people are familiar with the practice, with a majority of 80% believing that when an influencer posts an ad they are being paid by the brand to post positive content.
While 75% believe that any mentions of a brand in a post means it is advertising.
The research also found that while 76% have used social media for tips and inspiration, 57% find too much sponsored content 'annoying'.
And the majority of Irish adults (59%) find over edited photos 'annoying' - as well as influencers who do not seem authentic or misrepresent real life (59%).
Additional irritants include content that takes advantage of impressionable audiences (52%) and repetitive posts (49%).
However, 42% believe influencers to be more responsible with advertising that they were three years ago.
Beauty editor and journalist Aisling Keenan told Lunchtime Live this is not a shock to her.
"It's not a surprising to me because - as much as I'm in the industry as a journalist - I still follow influencers and love following influencers.
"I do get a lot of inspiration and shopping advice from influencers, but it has occurred to me about the transparency of it all and about the correct use of hashtags and the lack of hashtags where they're supposed to be used.
"As a consumer I am concerned about transparency - but as someone who's kind of in the industry as well I completely understand and support the influencer needs to make a living via the content they create.
"They do put a lot of effort into the content and it only makes sense that they can make a living from it.
"But I definitely think the ASAI are right in trying to make it a little bit more clear for consumers."
She suggested changes would make it better for all concerned.
"I personally think the guidelines need to be more black and white - they need to be incredibly clear.
"I think to be honest they need to go from guidelines to regulations... because I think the clearer things can be and the more transparent the industry is, the more successful and sustainable it will be for the people who are taking part.
"Influencer marketing is undeniably one of the biggest and most successful ways for brands to reach their customers - particularly with magazines and print titles not having as many advertising pages and not having the same reach that they once did."
She said magazines are clear about adverts or advertorials, but social media is less so.
"I think the same rules need to be applied to the influencer marketing community".
'Playing fast and loose'
She suggested that the current rules around influencer marketing were "more guidelines than necessarily strict, hard and fast rules.
"As far as I can see, there are a lot of influences that are completely abiding by them - but then there are some that are playing it a little bit fast and loose with what to do".
She said one example is when a post does not mention it is an advert until the last time of text.
"The consumer looking at that, flicking through Instagram, it might not twig with them straight away that they're looking at an ad.
"Whereas some people are incredibly clear with it and they say 'This part here, the next five pieces of my story, are an ad' and they put the right hashtags visible and prominent".
The ASAI survey results are based on the views of 1,224 participants across a broad demographic, interviewed online and representative of the adult population.