The rise of social media micro-influencers in Northland is following a national trend of paying bloggers to push products or services online. Business Advocate editor Christine Allen talks to two Northland bloggers who are carving out a niche with their social media marketing.

During the day, Kensington mother-of-three Jessica Claris is a theatre nurse at Whangarei Hospital.

But last year Ms Claris' popular lifestyle blog Dot Dash went commercial, and she now gets paid by big brands to promote their stuff on her social media platforms.

Her blog has a collective following of 11,600 people, between Facebook and Instagram. Her blog colleagues are her children Jake, 13, Archie, 5 and Theodora, 3, who are happy to pose in photos wearing the brands, while husband Luke is usually the talent behind the iPhone camera.

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"As a lifestyle blogger, I share a lot of food, fashion and home-related content, as well as what it's like raising small people and a teen. I am a woman navigating modern life with a career, a husband, three kids and a mortgage."

She has worked with brands such as Saben, ShineOn and The Hello Cup, and gets paid anything from $150 upwards per post.

In New Zealand, influencers can earn anything between $50 and $50,000 per post on social media. This depends on their popularity and engagement levels.

"Every job is different, which is what makes it fun…I could be working on a new recipe with a supermarket or trying out the latest skincare trend. Social media marketing is the way forward in advertising," she said.

Influencers can be approached directly by a company, or by a public relations firm.

Ms Claris believes influencers must remain honest and have integrity.

"I would never promote anything…that I wouldn't buy or use myself.

"There has been a huge shift…it is still new and evolving to fit the ever-changing world of the internet. Transparency…being honest when posts are sponsored by a company is important."

REGULATION

Ms Claris doesn't think New Zealand should follow in the steps of Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where influencers are being regulated.

US and UK laws already require disclosure of sponsored posts, with the addition of the hashtag #ad now used by macro-influencers such as the Kardashians.

This month, the Australian Association of National Advertisers amended its Advertiser Code of Ethics requiring influencers to be transparent about sponsored posts and commercial connections.

While in the UAE this month, officials announced that anyone conducting "commercial activities" through social media had to register for a government-issued license. A failure to register would result in fines.

All marketing in New Zealand is regulated under the Fair Trading Act (FTA), which prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct in trade, as well as prohibiting false or misleading representations.

Under its new guidelines, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also insists that "independent content creators" and all parties to an advertisement are responsible for "ensuring that advertiser-controlled content is clearly identified as such".

Onerahi blogger Philippa Mannagh said that the NZ waters had been muddied by a few dodgy influencers, and sponsored posts should be identified.

Ms Mannagh has a total online audience of 4500 followers, across her various social media platforms, which also includes the Mums in Business NZ group which she founded.

She gives "feedback on brands, services or events…to help influence the community to buy or use the product themselves".

"So far, I've worked with brands such as Resene, Keyfinders, Willhouse NZ, Lovelee Soles and Mallets in Whangarei."

She has accepted products as payments from smaller businesses, while larger brands tend to pay in dollars.

She started her work as an influencer as an add-on to her social media strategy and coaching company Liked Media, when clients approached her asking if they could share their message in front of her online audience.