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Make Way for Virtual Influencers

Lil Miquela–the world's most popular virtual influencer

Nowadays it is no doubt that influencers have become a crucial part of a brand’s success in digital marketing. With many loyal followers, influencers can help brands build awareness and boost sales more quickly than ever. But of course, when the highs are high, the lows can be equally low. At the end of the day, influencers are still individuals who have their own beliefs and are capable of making mistakes. Just one inappropriate post can create a public backlash that puts the brands associated with them at risk.

How Virtual Influencers Can Help

Surely, brands want to mitigate this risk. However, they cannot just barge in and control every aspect of an influencer’s life. This is where virtual influencers come into play. Virtual influencers are AI-generated public figures that exist only in the online world. They are designed to look and behave like humans in hopes of creating a connection with us. With these similarities, brands can put them to use just like human influencers. The only difference is that brands can now have absolute control over the creative process of the content that they will post. This enables brands to convey the exact message to their target audience and also puts them in a safe position free from public controversies.

Other upsides of working with virtual influencers are cost and time savings. Hiring well-known human influencers can be as costly as millions of dollars per post. Additionally, they may sometimes not be able to create content within the timeframe that brands request. But with virtual influencers, costs are significantly lower and time is no longer an issue as there are no physical limitations.

Virtual Influencers in The Real World

The concept of virtual influencers is still quite new and may be hard to grasp. Some may wonder–is it really as effective as hiring a human influencer? According to a 2022 survey conducted by Influencer Marketing Factory, up to 58% of the respondents said that they follow virtual influencers. Additionally, 35% of them said that they have purchased a product promoted by virtual influencers.

Moreover, there have recently been example cases of notable brands successfully collaborating with virtual influencers such as Prada and Lil Miquela, a Brazillian-American virtual influencer with 3 million Instagram followers. She has helped Prada promote its campaign for the brand’s Fall 2018 collection by posting previews and behind-the-scenes of the fashion week, encouraging her followers to visit Prada’s Instagram account. To dive in further, some brands have even created their own virtual influencers from scratch. This way, not only can brands monitor the content that will be posted, but also control their personas. Some examples would be luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and Balmain creating their exclusive virtual model army.

Lil Miquela for Prada and Balmain's virtual model influencers

The Bottom Line

All in all, virtual influencers are highly beneficial for brands to utilize. They are easy to keep a check on and can outperform human influencers in terms of costs and time. Together with digitization on the rise, the world definitely has to make way for virtual influencers.

Sources: Forbes, Harper’s BAZAAR, Influencer Marketing Hub, VSLB

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