Among the best marketing strategies of 2019, micro-influencer marketing leverages stronger relationships with followers, more niche audiences, and lower price tags than traditional influencer marketing.

By now, it’s clear that the social media machine is a show that will go on. No hurdle — be it a privacy mishap, a PR scandal, or concerns of social media echo chambers — is insurmountable for platforms that offer users instant visibility and hyperconnectivity.

As a result, the role of the social media influencer is also here to stay. As marketers have caught onto social influencers’ staying power, the popularity of social media influencer marketing has begun to skyrocket, and with good reason. Social media influencers provide instant access to thousands – if not millions – of consumers, often for a similar cost to direct or paid social media marketing.

The industry’s growth alone is testament to its allure — in 2019, social influencer marketing is projected to amass 6.5 billion dollars, up from 1.7 billion dollars in 2016, and Google searches for “influencer marketing” have increased 1500 percent since 2015.

Why? Because consumers have demonstrated time and again that they trust the recommendations of real people — like influencers, even those who have been paid — over blatantly promotional content like targeted ads. Consider, for example, that 40 percent of Twitter users report that they have bought something because they saw an influencer tweet about it.

However, many marketers are misdirecting their funds by assuming a social media star’s influence increases in direct proportion to their follower count — and often this is not the case. We’re calling it now: 2019 is the year of the micro-influencer for three simple reasons.

1. Micro-influencers Can Get Your Business More Bang for Its Buck

A micro-influencer is someone with a more modest following than full-blown influencers — their audience is usually in the tens of thousands rather than the millions range. Crucially, and perhaps counterintuitively, though they lack the same breadth of attention that influencers get, micro-influencers have better engagement.

Research bears this relationship out. On Instagram, both likes and comments decrease in proportion to followers after hitting an audience size of one thousand. While an influencer with a followership between one and ten thousand people sees a 4 percent like rate, a bonafide social media celebrity with over one million followers gets a 1.7 percent like rate.

With less notoriety than bigger names in brand influence, micro-influencers promote products or services for a smaller price tag while maintaining higher quality relationships with their audience.

2. Micro-influencers Can Align with Your Storytelling Aims

These strong engagement patterns come down to micro-influencers’ accessibility and perceived authenticity, two characteristics that make the micro-influencer development stage a sweet spot for marketers.

Though they have cult-like audiences, influencers are at an inherent distance from their followers because the nature of celebrity removes and commercializes them. The Kardashians, for example, certainly exert influence simply because of their incomparably wide reach. But when they promote weight-loss tea, can followers really overlook the reality that Kim, Khloe, and Kylie have A-list trainers to help keep them fit?

Conversely, micro-influencers benefit from their smaller audience size because they don’t ask their audience to reconcile such cognitive dissonance. Micro-influencers accrue a decent following because of niche interests or demonstrated expertise — followers view them as a trusted resource, but they also see them as relatable, real people. This combination of more engaged audiences and more specialized brands makes micro-influencers the perfect spokespeople for more effective marketing campaigns.

Tools like HYPR help marketers sort through influencers to find the right accounts whose following fits the audience size, area of interest, and demographic information they’d like to target. From here, marketers can take advantage of a micro-influencer’s platform by paying for promotions, incentivizing user-generated content, or partnering to deliver creative campaigns.

Ultimately, leveraging a micro-influencer’s strong relationships with their audiences translates to conversions because endorsements are reasonable and believable, not transparently motivated by monetary gain. Micro-influencers generated 22.2 times as much buzz as normal consumers when making recommendations, and an entire 82 percent of consumers confirm that they are “highly likely” to follow micro-influencers’ endorsements.

3. Micro-Influencers Will Amplify Your Other Marketing Efforts

Finally, rest assured that investing in micro-influencer marketing is not redundant if you already have other social media campaigns in place — it merely strengthens their impact. In fact, users who were exposed to tweets from both an influencer and the advertiser being promoted were 2.7 times more likely to make a purchase than users who had not been exposed to advertiser tweets.

In this way, micro-influencer marketing holds great promise for this year and the future at large. While paying famous influencers for promotions may appear to cast a wider net, a broader audience is more expensive for more specious payoffs — celebrity paid sponsorships reap lower quality engagement and appeal to a followership whose values are less tailored to your brand messaging.

Micro-influencer marketing, on the other hand, is a more cost-effective and more individualized approach given that micro-influencer audiences naturally fall into specific verticals, and it amplifies advertising impact when used in tandem with your brand’s own campaigns.