Digital

Could virtual influencers be your social media weapon of choice?

- October 20, 2022 3 MIN READ

With the rise of influencer marketing and AI both taking the online world by storm, it was only a matter of time before the two ideas combined and ‘virtual influencers’ arrived on the scene, writes Emily-Rose Hills, The Social Media Coach.

From the Hollywood blockbuster iRobot to HBO’s series Westworld, the very idea that artificial intelligence could one day be a part of our everyday life seemed somewhat implausible. But with mind-boggling leaps in technology and engineering feats never thought possible, interactions with robots are becoming increasingly common.

When you live chat online with your bank or with customer service from an eCommerce site, it’s most likely you’re interacting with a chatbot. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used to review Facebook ads, respond to DMs and even send out messages to new LinkedIn connections.

So, we really shouldn’t be overly surprised that AI is now infiltrating our social media feeds with virtual influencers.


What are virtual influencers?

You may have seen 3D-animated CGI-generated avatars used to play online games such as Second Life. Similar futuristic characters are being created and then used on social media as influencers, thus being dubbed ‘virtual influencers’.

You may have to look twice because some of them are exceptionally realistic.

artificial intelligence influencer marketing

Could virtual influencers be your social media weapon of choice?

Virtual influencers are growing strong followings and brands are having to join waitlists to work with these social media phenomena.

For example, @lilmiquela is living her best virtual life and looks scarily human. The creators behind Lil Miquela kicked off in 2016, and as of September 2022, the fictional character has amassed three million Instagram followers. Miquela is used as a digital marketing tool for marketing streetwear and luxury brands, and has already worked with Calvin Klein and Prada.


The fast pace of the digital influencer industry is growing incredibly fast, with duplicate accounts trying to mimic the official influencers. Alongside @lilmiquela is more than 200 other artificial intelligence personalities that have social media accounts, such as these few notable mentions – @magazineluiza (6 million), Nobody Sausage (17 million on TikTok and 4.2 million on Instagram) and Facebook’s Hatsune Miku (2.4 million) has sold out virtual concerts.

The brilliant minds behind each of the accounts get to create a virtual life, from the places they visit to the clothes they model.

Why are virtual influencers important to your brand’s success?

At this stage of the virtual influencer journey, they are still regarded as intriguing but definitely bizarre. There’s an air of mystery and fascination which attracts followers. Aside from getting more eyes on your products or services, using a virtual influencer introduces you to a realm of opportunities not humanly possible.

Here’s why:

  • Virtual influencers are time-saving – there’s no travel time, no need for reshoots due to bad lighting, and if there’s a mistake, it can be rectified faster than organising another photoshoot.
  • There’s no risk of brand-shaming, such as aligning your brand with a sportstar or model who goes off the rails.
  • There’s also less chance that your virtual influencer will fail to deliver on their content creation duties due to lockdown restrictions or cancellations due to illness.
  • A virtual influencer can be in Paris on Monday morning and at the top of Mount Everest by the afternoon.

Luxury car brand Renault pioneered their very own virtual ambassador called Liv, and Japanese hologram pop singer Hatsune was used by Marc Jacobs. Even Louis Vuitton drew upon a character in Final Fantasy – Lightning – to represent their brand. More recently, Samsung joined forces with Lil Miquela to promote their new Galaxy Z flip phone. The tagline simply reads: “Do What You Can’t”. KFC have used the technology to reimagine Colonel Sanders.

Interested in working with a virtual influencer?

Here’s my picks…

Kyraonig

Kyra gets the envious title of India’s first meta influencer. From Mumbai, the 22-year-old is a dream chaser, lover of yoga and jet-setting model who enjoys cooking.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by K Y R A ✨ (@kyraonig)

Bermudaisbae

Bermuda is a selfie queen who’s living her best life, music lover and sister of Lil Miquela. She has 263,000 followers.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Bermuda (@bermudaisbae)

Rozy.gram

Scarily human-looking, Rozy is Korea’s first meta influencer and she’s taking the world by storm. You’ll find her vacationing, enjoying the nightlife and exploring hotels.


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