Miquela De Sousa is a 20-year-old successful musician with an impressive Instagram following of 3 million fans. She flaunts the latest trends in the fashion world, poses for some of the world’s quirkiest magazines and has even been featured in Calvin Klein’s controversial TV advertisement alongside Bella Hadid in 2019.
A material world for a digital girl
But, there’s a catch. ‘Lil Miquela’ isn’t your average influencer, she is considered to be a robot. By robot, we mean that she is amongst a new platform of virtual influencers – a group of cleverly crafted personas that are now shaping the industry, and Lil Miquela is considered to be one of the most high-profile and successful ones to date.
She has made her presence known across many social media platforms so far, sharing CG generated images, uploading tell-all youtube videos with the use of a donated voice actor and of course, the words she has shared have all been written by inspired scriptwriters setting the perfect tone and story for the computerised powerhouse.
The virtual market is rising
Across the world, the influencer market is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s a wonder whether virtual influencers are now taking the cake. However, we as an industry have spent a relentless amount of time defining success as ‘’the more human you are, the better’’, as humanising your brand is supposedly the best way to draw business in – making those consumer/brand relationships extra special.
On the other hand, the idea that a digital influencer can be moulded entirely to fit the consumers’ desires and the businesses needs do come with temptations. Brands can create their ideal messaging, paired with genuine engagement from virtual influencer marketing.
With virtual influencers, having control means that there is no risk of controversy, or witnessing any tone-deaf happenings across social media that we see countless of times in the influencer world today.
Your virtual influencer will never cause a scene because you are the one choosing what they say and do. They can work around the clock, get ‘photographed’ at any given opportunity, and have their personalities defined with a fine-tooth comb to match any target audience. Some might say they have the potential to be the perfect brand ambassador.
While you might not be able to relate to them on a human level entirely, virtual influencers curate the perfect canvas for aspiration. Did you know that virtual influencers hold an impressive three times the amount of engagement that real influencers gain?
Too good to be true?
It’s safe to say that this new world of marketing can feel a little disturbing since robots and such highly advanced technologies were nothing more than a mere thought even a few years ago.
Do we still crave the need for human connection? For example, many social media users will follow fitness influencers on social media for weight loss or healthy lifestyle inspiration, because those people want to see real-life results from other humans sharing their success stories.
Anyone can edit a CGI character to be slimmer at the touch of a button, which is not only unrealistic but equally falls flat where inspiration is concerned. The concept of virtual influencers is fun, but they don’t quite express quite the same appeal as a real person could.
It goes without saying that the opinion of the virtual influencer could be incredibly biased to the brand – perhaps leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the consumer looking for a real, genuine opinion of a product or service.
The craving for control
As we mentioned before, virtual influencers don’t come with controversial baggage under their belts. There is no risk of them expressing unpopular opinions or ideologies without permission and brands have complete control over how they are represented.
In a world of unforgiving cancel culture, businesses are considering virtual influencers as a non-risky way of promotion.
Will brands let the craving for control take over the old, comfortable ways of marketing? The perks of virtual personalities being tailored to the desired individual perhaps are too wonderous not to try. But is virtual influencing the beginning of the downfall of brand authenticity?
Can we truly afford to compromise on an essential aspect of marketing? Influencing is built on ‘trust’ in what an ambassador truly thinks of a product or service – it is not something that is built by code or animations.
What once was a sci-fi wonder has now become a potential reality, and while virtual influencers technically don’t ‘exist’, it certainly opens the door for more advanced marketing strategies and tactics in the future. Like most opportunities, it only takes one person to test the waters before others hop on board to experience for themselves.
Here at Rooster Marketing, we are a full-service agency that can add a touch of creativity to your brand. If you’re looking for the next exciting entity for your business, we have a talented team of individuals to make the magic happen.
Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help support your business.