It’s no surprise that influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing industries out there. With $8.5 billion spent last year alone and that number predicted to almost double by 2022, brands just can’t beat the incredible ROI they get with influencer relationships and campaigns.

A handful of years ago, Influencer Marketing may have felt like an unknown “Wild West” to those who weren’t as familiar with the space. (Have you read our popular article, “Busting the Top 6 Myths of Influencer Marketing”?) But now that it’s clear that influencer marketing is not only here to stay, but is actually more effective than traditional advertising (11x more effective, to be exact), everyone is getting wise and getting in the game.

Just as with any industry that relies on technology, there are frequent changes and updates that marketers need to stay aware of as they plan their 2020 campaign strategies. Here are the top influencer marketing lessons and trends from 2019, plus how we’re using them to predict what you’ll need to be successful in 2020.

Trend: Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence

The B2B market, in particular, saw a lot of activity driven by AI, or Artificial Intelligence. As the digital marketing space continues to get more saturated, AI is becoming crucial for brands and agencies to hone in on their ideal audience using behind the scenes data and tools for content optimization.

From finding the perfect influencers to represent your brand, to social listening and competitor analysis, AI gives marketers increased opportunities across every vertical for dialed-in, effective content and campaigns.

Lesson: Audience size DOES matter, just not how you think

In the past, many brands and agencies assumed it was better to partner with an influencer who had a high follower count because that meant more eyes were on their posts. But 2019 saw a huge influx in brands partnering with nano- and micro-influencers over macro- and mega-influencers with larger audiences. This is because we’re seeing influencers with smaller followings actually have a more effective and authentically engaged audience that influencers with over 500K.

We’re absolutely predicting that this trend of hiring influencers with smaller audiences will continue. It’s all about really dialing in on the influencer who has audience demographics that are the best match for your brand, and content that has a high engagement rate.

Trend: “Infotainment”

We’ve seen a huge rise in “infotainment”, or informative entertainment on social platforms in the B2B space. There are an increasing number of influencers who provide education, insight, and expertise via social media channels, and their followers are loving it!

From engaging videos and interactive content (and even some AR/VR!) we’re predicting branded social content will see massive growth in 2020 in the B2B space.

Lesson: Authenticity is the new black

Authenticity has become paramount when it comes to influencer marketing. Now that the industry has been around for a while, a few “bad actors” learned how to gamify the system, engaging in inauthentic behavior such as buying followers, purchasing engagement from click-farms, and inflating their scope of influence. In fact, a study done earlier this year found that marketers could be losing, on average, around 15% of their budget to fake or inactive followers.

However, new technology exists that can easily and quickly measure and rate an influencer’s authenticity score. Read our article on measuring authenticity to find out what markers we track that flag an influencer as having suspicious activity.

Beyond authenticity’s effect on a brand’s bottom line, consumers are also demanding an increase in authentic content from the people they follow. The shiny, perfectly-curated feeds that were so popular back in 2016 and ‘17 are shifting to a much more real, “behind-the-scenes” feeling. Earning consumer trust via authentic interaction will be the most valuable commodity in 2020 and beyond.