What is a Virtual Influencer?
We truly are living in the future. So many aspects of our lives have become virtual or have virtual sides to them. Take exercise or trying on new makeup for example. We can do it all in our virtual worlds! Even follow fictional computer-generated characters.
Virtual influencers are here and have been for years. But don’t panic; this isn’t a Terminator situation.
Think of our childhood bestie, Barbie! Or even the Geico Gecko! Yes – Barbie and that funny little gecko are considered virtual influencers due to their personal social media presences. Today, advances in technology have also led us to more modern and hyper-realistic virtual influencers, such as Lil Miquela. When Lil Miquela first made her debut on Instagram in 2016, she fascinated people and had them guessing who and what she was.
The virtual influencer realm is not as scary or incomprehensible as some may think. Virtual influencers are digital characters created with computer graphics. Behind each of them are creator marketing people – brands and individuals – and you can interact with them on digital platforms. They are designed to simulate human qualities and have unique personalities which include realistic biases and quirks.
People are still learning about them and getting used to them, and we’re here to help you understand!
Virtual Influencers’ Presence
In their early days, virtual influencers gained a bit of traction. Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela, Shudu, and Noonoouri got people talking and got people’s eyes on the brands they were wearing.
Some brands jumped on the trend, but not everybody! Others feared that they would come off as inauthentic, and some did not see a point. However, this will change now that virtual products, such as NFTs or products in the Metaverse, are rising in popularity. On Instagram, 35 virtual influencers are verified and according to Social Media Today, 58% of people surveyed said they followed at least one virtual influencer.
Virtual influencers are not totally in the mainstream yet, but as the metaverse grows, increased virtual influencer presence will too!
We are already beginning to see more incorporation of virtual influencers into modern influencer marketing strategies. In China, the use of virtual influencers is becoming much more common. These influencers perform music on stage at TV events, have “jobs” as news anchors, and have copious amounts of brand sponsorships. During Singles Day 2021, the world’s biggest shopping event, a virtual influencer was incorporated as a tour guide for a virtual NFT art exhibition which included brands such as Burberry and Alienware.
Virtual Influencers are forecasted to be a big part of the metaverse. This year Decentraland hosted the first Metaverse Fashion Week, and you can count on this not being the last big Metaverse event. We are already seeing virtual influencers aiding in marketing NFTs as well as regular products. We don’t know what the future holds for virtual influencers, but they are valuable tools with so many possibilities!
Why are virtual influencers beneficial?
Virtual influencers are starting to become valuable assets to brands. Brands can utilize virtual influencers in different ways. They can either create their own virtual influencers or work with those who already exist. We’ve already begun to see brands creating their own influencers, as mentioned above. The Geico Gecko is an example of a mascot that transitioned into a virtual influencer. We’ve also seen brands like KFC and PUMA create their own influencers. On the other hand, many brands have also opted to work with independent virtual influencers.
But why bother?
#1 Virtual Influencers get higher engagement.
Their current standing of still being unfamiliar has given them a higher glance value compared to human influencers. This means they are more likely to cause media users to stop, look, and be drawn in due to their unique and distinguishable appearances. Based on a study by HypeAuditor, virtual influencers have an engagement rate approximately 3 times higher than human influencers.
#2 Creating or working with a virtual influencer gives the brand complete control over their campaign.
A virtual influencer’s personality and posts can be tailored specifically to what you are promoting. You can design every detail, every step of the way to ensure that it looks exactly how you want and that the message you desire is getting across. When partnering with these influencers you can find one that looks hyper-realistic or very much like a cartoon character, whichever fits your brand best!
#3 There are no physical limitations in the campaign.
Campaigns with virtual influencers make it possible to have an image of them in a tourist spot without the crowd, in a desert miles from nowhere, or even in space. None of this is difficult or impossible because you can create it all with computer software. This also means that there are fewer fees to take care of when putting together a campaign.
#4 There is increased brand safety when working with virtual influencers.
People have personal lives, make mistakes, have strong opinions, and are sometimes just plain unpredictable. With virtual influencers there is less uncertainty in what their next move will be, thus less risk that your brand will be associated with something it doesn’t stand for.
#5 There are more storytelling opportunities.
There are no limitations to virtual influencers. They can have any background their creator desires and come from anywhere in the world, even a made-up one! Virtual influencers also open the door for transmedia storytelling – a technique of telling a story across multiple digital media platforms. This can aid your brand in being known and recognized across more platforms. This also allows brands to play with exciting angles and enable them to use maximum creativity.
Here are the 10 Virtual Influencers you should get to know:
@Lilmiquela – Miquela Sousa
3M on Instagram and 3.5M on TikTok
Has partnered with: Samsung, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Prada, Nike, and more.
Fun Fact: In 2018, Miquela was voted TIME Magazine’s most influential person.
@imma.gram – imma
356K on Instagram and 306K on TikTok
Has partnered with fashion influencer marketing icons such as: Ikea, Nike, Valentino, Amazon, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, and more.
@Noonoouri – Noonoouri
399K on Instagram
Has partnered with: Dior, Versace, Marc Jacobs, Kim Kardashian’s makeup line, and more.
Fun Fact: Noonoouri has a vegan ‘lifestyle’ and promotes sustainable fashion.
@shudu.gram – Shudu Gram
Has partnered with: Balmain, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and more.
Fun Fact: Known as The World’s First Digital Supermodel.
@FNMeka – FN Meka
10.1M on TikTok and 185K on Instagram
Has partnered with: G-Fuel and Lamborghini.
Fun Fact: On his TikTok, he partners to do crossovers to auction and sell NFTs.
@knoxfrost – Knox Frost
664K on Instagram
Has partnered with: the World Health Organization and Rock the Vote.
Fun Fact: Helped raise money for WHO to fight Coronavirus.
@nobodysausage – Nobody Sausage
3.6M on Instagram and 14M on TikTok
Has partnered with: Hugo Boss.
@magazineluiza – Lu do Magalu
5.8M on Instagram and 6.7M on TikTok
Has partnered with: Brazilian company Magalu.
@ruby9100m – Ruby 9100M
81.5K on Instagram
Has partnered with: Nike, Fendi, Snapchat, Adidas, and more.
@guggimon – Guggimon
1.5M on Instagram and 70.3K followers on TikTok
Has partnered with: Jose Cuervo Tequila, Fortnite, and more.
Fun Fact: Has formed NFT partnerships with Gucci and Paris Hilton.
Open Influence is a global influencer agency that knows how to pick the best influencer to fit your brand’s unique style and message of your brand. Work with us to get the perfect influencer pairings and connect with your audience.