Virtual influencer: fashion, comfort or innovation?

Could you identify a virtual influencer from a real one? What sets them apart and why are they attractive to brands? We tell you!

News and trends

You’re scrolling through Instagram stories and you stop on one about a makeup product. The influencer who appears in the video looks surprisingly real and her speech is convincing. However, something seems different, something subtle that you can’t immediately identify: this is a virtual influencer, created with artificial intelligence (AI). 

As the line between real and virtual blurs, these AI influencers are redefining social media marketing and engagement, offering a new dimension of manufactured authenticity. Contradictory, right? In this post we comment on the topic. Keep reading! 

Why does the virtual influencer arise? 

The emergence of the virtual influencer is a combination of several phenomena, mainly technological. First of all, social networks are increasing in popularity among users every day. This has opened the doors to a massive connection between influencers and their audience, a fertile ground that brands have been able to take advantage of. 

Along these same lines, the technological impulse of recent years has given way to new ways of creating and doing, and artificial intelligence is an example of this. It is a technology that has been perfected to allow the creation of increasingly realistic and believable virtual characters. The combination of computer graphics and AI algorithms has paved the way for virtual influencers

Added to all this are brands that are looking for new ways to sell and position themselves in an increasingly competitive market. In this sense, a virtual influencer, generated with AI, can attract and maintain the attention of large audiences, becoming a powerful tool for marketing and advertising campaigns. 

Each of these issues have served as a catalyst for the emergence of artificial characters. They are virtual influencers: designed to be perfect, captivate and persuade the audience, interact with followers, answer their questions and promote products with an efficiency that only technology can offer. 

Virtual influencer vs. Real influencer: differences 

With what has been said so far we can affirm that the influencers generated by Artificial Intelligence are virtual personalities that have been created using advanced technologies such as computer graphics and machine learning algorithms. We are talking about characters that do not physically exist, but who do interact on social networks and generate engagement with their followers.  

Precisely, these characteristics are what distinguish them from flesh and blood influencers. Let’s first look at the advantages that the virtual influencer offers compared to the real one:  

  • Brand consistency: virtual influencers maintain a consistent image and message, since they are designed specifically for it. In the case of real people, the natural evolution of the person makes this consistency difficult, which can change tastes or opinions. 
  • Availability: AI-generated influencers are available at all times for campaigns and collaborations. Logically and legally, humans do not work 24 hours a day. 
  • Innovation: without a doubt, virtual influencers are the result of the technological forefront, therefore, they can attract audiences interested in innovation and digital culture.  
  • Control: brands have total control over the actions and content they publish, they are the ones who create the virtual influencer and who decide what they say, how and when. 

Disadvantages of virtual influencers

  • Perfection: virtual influencers are designed not to make mistakes, they must be perfect. This can repel users who are looking for closeness and real experiences. 
  • Lack of authenticity: related to the above, we can affirm that, on many occasions, and especially in certain brands, life stories are needed that artificial intelligence cannot supplant. Suppose a brand sells a skincare product, would you listen to a virtual character who, evidently, has not been able to try the product and is unaware of its results?  
  • Lack of empathy: Real influencers can express emotions and empathize with their audience in a way that virtual characters cannot. This can weaken trust towards virtual influencers. 
  • Little flexibility: in live events or challenging situations, virtual influencers have more difficulty improvising, adapting, and redirecting the conversation. 

Benefits for brands of virtual influencers 

So, if we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a virtual influencer, is it worth it for brands to invest in them? The answer depends on the brand’s objectives, the audience it targets, and the product or service they sell.  

Below, we explain the benefits that AI-generated influencers can bring to brands:  

  • Total control over the image and message: as we told you, unlike human influencers, virtual ones are completely designed and controlled by the brands, which allows perfect coherence in the image and the message that you want to convey. 
  • Global reach and viral potential: Virtual influencers can reach a global audience and have the ability to go viral quickly, amplifying the impact of marketing campaigns. However, it is important to note that this depends on the team behind the artificial intelligence. 
  • Unique and engaging content: These digital characters can be created to fit a brand’s aesthetic and generate creative and engaging content that captures the audience’s attention. 
  • Saving time and resources: Working with virtual influencers can be more efficient in terms of time and resources compared to collaborations with human influencers. 
  • Innovation and modernity: the use of virtual influencers can position a brand as innovative and at the forefront of technological and marketing trends. 

Some examples of virtual influencers 

The first step towards the “boom” of virtual influencers was taken in 2016 with the creation of Lil Miquela, by the company Brud. It has a visual aesthetic similar to that of a real person. She shares content related to fashion, music, and lifestyle on her social media. On Instagram alone she accumulates 2.6 million followers. 

Meanwhile, in 2017 the “digital supermodel” Shudu Gram was designed. Shudu, created by photographer Cameron-James Wilson, has gone viral on social media for her stunning beauty and unique style. Although Shudu is a digital avatar, her appearance resembles that of an African woman. This has sparked controversy over whether it is appropriate for a white man (her creator) to benefit from the image of a black woman without being part of that community. 

Noonoouri came to Instagram on February 1, 2018 and has not stopped growing since then. In this case, she is a virtual influencer who does not imitate human appearance, but rather tries to stand out for the quality of content related to fashion. She was created by graphic designer Joerg Zuber and is characterized by a distinctive style, which has led her to collaborate with renowned brands. In addition, she is the first virtual influencer to sign a contract with a record company as a singer.  

Did you find this post about virtual influencers interesting? Subscribe to Educa.Pro for more current business content!

Keep reading