At the end of 2018, we saw the beginnings of a rise in virtual influencer popularity. But since then they have not really been talked about in mainstream media. So, what or who are virtual influencers and why should we understand them for the future of our digital marketing strategies?
What Are Virtual Influencers?
Virtual Influencers may sound Black Mirror-esque, however, they’re happening here and now.
These are digital avatars that are 100% computer generated but act like real human beauty bloggers, gamers and social media influencers. They even look like humans online.
Virtual Influencers such as Shudu, Lil’ Miquela and Imma have millions of followers despite the fact that they’re not actually real. And, they even work with brands to promote new products to their followers, just as Influencers would do.
So, How Could Brands Benefit From Virtual Influencers?
As we mentioned before, just because these influencers aren’t real doesn’t mean they don’t still rack up committed followers. One virtual influencer, “19-year-old-model”, Lil’ Miquela has over 1.5 million followers. She even participated in the run-up to Prada’s fall 2018 fashion show. Here she promoted the event, her contributions to the line and the brand to her millions of followers.
AI and CGI generated influencers are fast becoming a more cost-effective way to promote products and brands compared to traditional “real” influencer marketing.
Creative Artist, Dylan Flynn commented that these influencers provide a way of “tell[ing] fictional stories rooted in reality”. So, these influencers could be an interesting way to engage new audiences. Thus allowing brands that wouldn’t normally collaborate with influencers to get involved.
Overall, virtual influencers aren’t going to take over the world any time soon. However, they are an interesting consideration for brands who want to attract new audiences. Virtual influencers could help highlight technologically savvy brands whilst also refreshing their image.