What are these “virtual influencers” and where did they come from that they are suddenly everywhere on social media, both as independent accounts and as part of larger, more established company accounts?
Virtual influencer: a working definition
First, let’s define our terms: in the context of marketing on social media sites like Instagram, “virtual influencers” refer to digital avatars or characters. These figures, often with an anthropomorphic twist, are modelled after actual people or animals and brought to life with computer-generated imagery (CGI) or 3D modelling tools. Virtual influencers are wholly artificial, as opposed to traditional influencers who are genuine people with established identities and brands.
Virtual influencers are often used in the influencer marketing business to sell fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products or services to a wide and responsive online audience. Nevertheless, they have come under fire for their lack of authenticity and questionable moral standing in the industry. To fill you in, we’ll discuss the origins, different kinds, and effects of Instagram virtual influencers, as well as the ethical concerns raised by their usage in contemporary advertising.
Can you describe the many forms of virtual influencer?
As virtual influencers are wholly fabricated, they come in a wide variety, from cartoonish CGI figures to realistic and complex avatars. Virtual influences come in many forms, but the most prevalent ones are:
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) actors:
Software packages like Blender and Maya are used to create very lifelike digital representations of humans and other creatures. The range of available CGI figures is vast, from simplistic cartoons to photorealistic avatars.
Avatars are digital representations of real-world people, and they may range in complexity from simple 3D models to very realistic avatars, much like computer-generated imagery (CGI) characters.
Avatars generated using deep learning systems:
The goal of developing these avatars utilising AI and machine learning techniques is to make them look like real humans. It is common for individuals to employ deepfake technology, which allows them to edit or “fake” video and audio footage, to create lifelike avatars that look and sound like their favourite celebrities or public figures.
These virtual influencers incorporate both real and fictitious components. For instance, they could mix real-world filming with computer-generated imagery or three-dimensional animation to create their persuasive media.
These computer-generated characters, who commonly promote veterinary or pet-related goods and services, are modelled after real-world animals like cats and dogs.
The unique demands and objectives of the business or corporation using them will determine the sort of virtual influencer deployed. Virtually any style or aesthetic may be achieved, from highly realistic avatars to highly stylized or cartoonish figures.
Positive aspects of collaborating with virtual influencer
There’s a good reason why digital influencers have become so widespread:
Brands in the appropriate field may reap real benefits from them, but only if they’re implemented properly. There are several benefits to collaborating with online influencers.
Companies and businesses who want to appeal to a younger, more tech-savvy audience will find virtual influencers to be an invaluable resource because of the ease with which they can be tailored to meet a certain aesthetic or theme for the promotion of a specific range of products or services.
As virtual influencers don’t need to be compensated for their time or effort, they are a more scalable choice for firms and brands with a smaller marketing budget, which might be a major benefit to those brands who are concentrating on being budget-conscious.
Since they don’t have to worry about physical changes like ageing or looks or career changes like retirement, virtual influencers can keep their look and message similar throughout time.
With virtual influencers, companies and marketers can better manage the content and message without worrying about offending the influencer’s own thoughts or values. The results may be favourable for the brand’s standing and public perception.
Instagram: a fertile ground for virtual influencer
Instagram appears to be the social media channel where virtual influencers have found the most success. It’s not hard to understand why, what with the app’s visual nature and the prevalence of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products, but there are other elements at play here as well.
Brands, especially those catering to younger demographics that are more likely to embrace digital avatars like these in the marketing content they consume, have found virtual influencer campaigns to be a cost-effective option. An further factor propelling the growth of Instagram’s virtual influencers is the growing appetite of brands and businesses for original and interesting content.
Implications of the future for the world of virtual influencers
The future of digital opinion leaders is fraught with danger and opportunity. With the use of AI and machine learning algorithms, companies can develop avatars that look and act more like actual people and have deeper, more meaningful interactions with consumers.
One alternative course of action is to combine VR and AR technology. With companies investing in and focusing on the metaverse and other social, interactive experiences, this might enable virtual influencers to connect with consumers in a more immersive manner, perhaps through the use of augmented reality filters.
With the constant development of new technologies and shifts in consumer preferences, it is likely that the role of virtual influencers will also continue to develop and alter. To make the most of virtual influencers in their influencer marketing initiatives, businesses and brands will need to keep abreast of the newest innovations and advances in the sector.