Digital marketing has changed by leaps and bounds over these past several years, and we’ve now reached an era where influencer marketing is simply another chapter within your overall digital marketing strategy. If it’s not something on your radar just yet, it’s time to think twice about your digital marketing for the upcoming year.

What is influencer marketing?

Wikipedia defines influencer marketing as “a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.”

And what exactly does that even mean? Well, the theory behind it is this — if a bunch of your customers are influenced by a certain celebrity, let’s say Kim Kardashian, having this celebrity use or promote your products would convince your target audience they should do the same. It’s the power of social proof, only compounded by the power of celebrity endorsement.

But, as with all digital marketing tactics, times are changing and you no longer require the star power of the world’s most elite celebrities to achieve positive results from influencer marketing. Today, micro and nano influencers are becoming more impactful than ever, thanks to their hyper-focused audiences.

Why should you care?

If you’re still reading and thinking to yourself, “So what? Why should I care about influencer marketing?”, now is the perfect time to jump into the numbers. I want to share some of the most important 2019 influencer marketing stats with you that will explain why it’s time for you to start thinking about this type of marketing.

By 2020, influencer marketing will become a $10B industry.

And yes, that’s less than a year away. As this industry continues to grow, more of your competitors will be jumping on board so now is a great time to start.

39% of active Instagram accounts with over 15k followers are influencers.

This means there are well over 500,000 active influencers on Instagram. Translation? There are over a half a million people with the ability to convince their audience to buy.

81% of all influencers are micro influencers with 15k to 100k followers.

Micro influencers typically have less than 100,000 followers. It’s the mega influencers who have over 5M followers, and those are the people we traditionally think about when we consider influencers. But, as I said before, times are changing.

90% of marketers state that engagement is the most common metric of success.

From a marketing standpoint, we’re all pretty much worried about the exact same things. How can we measure ROI? How do we handle fake followers and bots? What is the most important metric? Once upon a time, an influencer’s audience size could dictate their worth. Today, it’s all about engagement — you know, the reach beyond the reach.

What do all these numbers mean?

As I sit back and absorb everything I’m seeing about 2019 influencer marketing, there are a few key things that are clear.

First, it’s no longer about chasing the big fish. Going after micro and nano influencers who have an engaged audience that matches your target is your best bet. It’ll be less expensive and you’ll probably get a better ROI, too.

Second, Instagram is the social platform where you need to focus. It’s where the audiences and influencers live, so you need to have a presence there, too.

Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that engagement is really the only metric that matters. As businesses get smarter about influencer marketing, they’re realizing that real influencers, whatever their size, are the ones with an engaged audience.

So as you plan your 2019 or 2020 digital marketing strategy, make sure you’re carving out space for your influencer marketing strategy. It’s no longer considered a trend, but the new way to leverage the power of social proof and impact the people that matter.