The Rise of Virtual Influencers: Should Brands Embrace Them?

Mayank Choudhary
Social Media Specialist
May 29, 2023
min read
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In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, a not-so-new but bizarre phenomenon has emerged - ‘virtual’ influencers. These computer-generated characters, powered by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) or just very talented design artists who bring them to life (metaphorically) through stunning visuals, are gaining popularity and commanding significant attention.

You may have heard of some virtual influencers, and some might be new to you, but read on and learn more about the world of machine-generated people.

1. Zlu

As you know, we love everything about the creator economy, and to say some influencers are out of this world has been expressed perfectly by Zlu, an “alien” supermodel who’s living in Paris.

Having existed for over a year, Zlu has already partnered with fashion brands like Karl x Lagerfield, Chimi, Pull & Bear, and many others! Having worked with such great brands in less than a year of being on Earth, we understand why this mighty alien wonder boy decided to move to this planet.

2. Lil Miquela

As per Wikipedia, “Miquela Sousa, or Lil Miquela, is a fictional American character created by Trevor McFedries and Sara DeCou. The project began in 2016 as an Instagram profile”. One might even call her one of the pioneers of the virtual influencer industry after being one of the oldest to do it.

An influencer who’s worked with brands like Pacsun, Calvin Klein, and Prada, Lil Miquela is a force to be reckoned with.

We could go on and on about various virtual influencers and how they’ve worked with brands mere mortals could only dream of, but I think you get the point.

As brands seek innovative ways to connect with their audiences, the question arises: should brands embrace this niche, or is there a slippery slope to oblivion for virtual influencers just around the corner?

Benefits of working with virtual Influencers

1. Novelty and Creativity: Virtual influencers offer a fresh and innovative approach to influencer marketing. Their ability to transcend the limitations of human influencers allows brands to experiment with imaginative storytelling, unique aesthetics, and extraordinary concepts that can captivate and engage audiences in new ways.

2. Brand Control: Collaborating with virtual influencers provides brands with complete control over their image, messaging, and brand values. Virtual influencers can be designed to embody specific traits, ensuring that every interaction and promotional post aligns seamlessly with the brand's identity.

3. Reliability and Consistency: Unlike human influencers, virtual influencers are available 24/7, don't suffer from fatigue or personal issues, and can consistently deliver content without interruption. This reliability allows brands to maintain a steady and consistent presence, providing stability and continuity to their marketing efforts.

Drawbacks worth considering

1. Authenticity Concerns: Virtual influencers lack the authentic, human element that traditional influencers bring to the table. Some consumers may be skeptical about virtual influencers' credibility and genuine endorsements, potentially affecting the audience's level of trust and engagement.

2. Ethical Considerations: The rise of virtual influencers raises ethical questions regarding transparency and disclosure. Since virtual influencers are not human, it becomes crucial for brands to clearly communicate their digital nature and the promotional nature of their content, ensuring transparency and avoiding misleading their audience.

3. Limited Emotional Connection: Human influencers often connect with their followers personally and emotionally, leveraging their relatability and real-life experiences. Virtual influencers, while visually appealing, may struggle to establish the same level of emotional connection due to their lack of human experiences and emotions.

The emergence of virtual influencers presents brands with a unique opportunity to explore innovative marketing strategies. While they offer numerous benefits such as creativity, brand control, and targeted engagement, it is essential for brands to carefully consider the drawbacks, including authenticity concerns, ethical considerations, limited emotional connection, and uncertain ROI.

Ultimately, the decision to work with virtual influencers should depend on a brand's specific goals, target audience, and overall marketing strategy.

Do you see you or your brand partnering with a virtual influencer soon? Check out our guide to run amazing campaigns!

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