It seems as though everybody wants to become a social media influencer these days — because is there anything more rewarding than posting a few images and getting thousands of dollars (or freebies) in return?

The term "influencer" in and of itself is problematic in that many of these so-called individuals aren't really impacting their audiences with their content. It's just that they have a bunch of followers and views, hence, the reason why companies pay these individuals to market their products and services.

A while back, the UAE decided to make things a bit harder for so-called influencers. The Gulf nation rolled out a licensing program last year, demanding influencers apply for a license and follow the rules and regulations occupying that space. Anyone who wishes to become an influencer must apply for a trade license first and then for an e-media license which costs 15,000 dirhams ($4,000) annually. 

Contrary to what one might think, more than 1,000 people have actually applied and have been granted a license to operate as a social media influencer in the country. 

During a conference last week, Ibrahim Khadim, director of media content at the National Media Council (NMC), said about 1,700 influencers have secured licenses since they were first introduced, according to The National.

According to Khaleej Times, there is a team from the NMC that has been monitoring illegal activities online. All violators have been hit with fines. 

"Paid influencers operating without a license invite a fine of Dh5,000. We are discovering new numbers (of paid influencers operating without a license) every day. When we encounter any illegal activity, we call and warn them and if it is repeated, we will fine them," Nasser Al Tamimi, manager of Media Licensing Department at the NMC, told Khaleej Times.

As for companies that employ influencers to market their products or services, they believe the licensing program acts as a filter to good versus bad quality options.

Jenson Samuel, marketing and e-commerce manager at Mercure Dubai Barsha Heights hotel, said the "process has helped filter the system because you had so many people who had social media accounts but lacked quality. The license helps us to recognize skills and niche talents," as reported by The National.

How much does an influencer in the UAE get paid?

According to data released by Gulf News, influencers in the UAE get paid an average price of $1,000 to $5,000 per post. Some of us (A LOT of us) don't even get paid that much for a full-time job. According to the data, that is what 94 percent of influencers charge. As for the remaining 6 percent, the price tag amounts to $10,000 per post. 

In some cases (76 percent), influencers agree to freebies (products or experiences) instead of actual cash payments.

According to that same report, 67 percent of UAE-based influencers said they really want to make "impact and drive real change in consumer behavior and attitude" and that it wasn't just about online popularity. 

As much as I'd like to believe that, it's quite hard to wrap my head around a statement that isn't reflected on many posts shared by "social media influencers."