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Virtual Influencers: How Artificial Intelligence is Entering the Creator Economy

Sharifa Duncan
Written By
Sharifa Duncan
Published On
Mar 01, 2023
Virtual influencers, @minniemouse, @nobodysausage and @imma.gram

Welcome to the future where there’s a new breed of content creators on the rise: virtual influencers—and it’s all happening right now.

In an era where everything is going digital, it doesn’t come as a surprise that even humans are being… well, digitalized—thanks to artificial intelligence.

So how is artificial intelligence being applied in the influencer industry?

Here’s what you should know about virtual influencers or AI influencers and the role they play in today’s creator economy.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence refers to computer systems that are capable of performing tasks that would normally require human intelligence. This includes elements from visual perception and speech recognition to decision-making and language processing. 

What’s so incredible about this technology is that it’s a system that’s capable of learning from experience and even adjusting to new input so that it closely mimics the way humans think and act.

However, while AI is indeed very smart, it hasn’t quite reached the point yet where it can completely operate on its own. The algorithms that it runs on are created by people, and human intervention is still required for it to process seamlessly. 

What Is a ✨Virtual Influencer✨?

A virtual influencer is a digital character that is created using computer graphics software. A personality is given to this character, who acts on social media platforms as if they are an actual influencer. 

With a blank canvas and so much creative freedom to design the “perfect influencer” with a “dream life,” it’s easy to see why AI influencers are capable of attracting so many followers and have millions hooked on their content. They’re a work of digital art that audiences and brands are simply magnetized to.

Virtual Versions of Real People

Virtual influencers aren’t always characters that are crafted from scratch. Sometimes, they are based on real people who’ve created their virtual selves to become influencers using motion capture technologies, green screens, 3D animation, and other studio equipment.

Virtual Idols

All of this has even led to the creation of virtual idols—as in digital avatars who sing and perform for fans—like the K-pop group Eternity (@eternity_aiia) and Han YuA (@_hanyua), who is famous for being both a YouTuber and an idol. Many are purely computer-generated. However, not all are created using such techniques.

The AI K-pop girl group Eternity
Instagram @eternity_aiia

Examples of Virtual Influencers

From virtual creators to branded virtual influencers, here’s how they’re stealing the spotlight wherever they go.

Virtual Creators

These virtual creators are the ones who make content on their own. 

Examples include Imma (@imma.gram), who’s known for her love for fashion, art, and film, and then there’s Nobody Sausage (@nobodysausage), who became popular for her comedic dance routines and skits.

Proving that they were quite literally born to be influencers, Nobody Sausage was tapped by Hugo Boss to be part of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2022 campaigns, #HowDoYouHUGO and #BeYourOwnBoss, while Imma endorsed Fendi’s Special Fashion Show celebrating 25 Years of the Baguette in September 2022.

@NobodySausage for a Hugo Boss campaign
Instagram @nobodysausage

 

Imma endorsing a Fendi bag
Instagram @imma.gram

Branded Virtual Influencers

There are also branded virtual influencers who are created by and for a specific brand.

One of the most well-known examples of this is Disney’s Minnie Mouse. On her official Instagram account, you can find her winning the influencer game as she shows glimpses of her daily life with her true love, Mickey Mouse.  

Why Are Virtual Influencers on the Rise?

One of the biggest reasons why virtual influencers are up-and-coming is the Metaverse, a virtual reality (VR) space where users can interact with each other inside a computer-generated environment. The popularity of this platform has fueled the rise of the virtual reality trend being adopted by people and brands alike.

One company taking the lead in the virtual reality industry is Decentraland. Through them, people can buy virtual land and create anything from a virtual house to a city, complete with all the virtual versions of civic infrastructure that we have in the real world.

But that’s not all—Decentraland also hosted the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) in March 2022, which saw several prominent fashion and accessories brands—both legacy and digital-first ones—participate in the event.

With all the buzz happening around everything virtual reality, it’s only a matter of time before the virtual influencers currently dominating traditional social media become the headliners in the Metaverse. As digitalization continues to develop, so will the rise of virtual influencers for corporate marketing.

How AI Influencers Could Impact the Creator Economy

AI influencers are proving to be total game-changers in the creator economy. Here are some of the benefits that brands can look forward to:

Absolute Project Control

By working with virtual influencers, brands can maintain absolute control over their projects from conception to completion. This also includes the creative process, which is traditionally entirely up to the human influencers.

Dream Up The Perfect Ambassador

Finding the right ambassador to collaborate with has always been one of the biggest challenges brands face whenever they leverage influencer marketing. But now, the perfect brand ambassador can be engineered using virtual influencers. This makes it so much easier for businesses to tailor their creations to the audiences and communities they wish to reach.

Content Around The Clock

Influencer marketing is a highly content-driven marketing strategy, and virtual influencers have a unique ability to create content around the clock! Especially when companies opt to design branded virtual influencers, the process of getting marketing content live becomes much faster. The time they would’ve spent coordinating with human influencers is something they won’t have to worry about anymore. They get as much content as they want—whenever and wherever. 

Influencer Marketing: Your Next Intelligent Move

Whether you decide to collaborate with virtual influencers or human influencers, it’s a marketing strategy that does wonders for brands who want to get their names out there and in the minds of the right audiences.

There’s nothing artificial about the intelligence of influencer marketing being your next move.

The Influence Agency’s team of digital experts is here for you. Having worked with both global and local brands to create unforgettable campaigns, we’ve become known as one of the top digital marketing agencies in North America.

Talk to us today to get started on your own hit campaign. Maybe it’ll even use AI influencers… 

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Author

  • Sharifa Duncan

    Sharifa is a Senior Social Media Manager at TIA with 7+ years of social media and digital marketing experience. She's a passionate hunter-gatherer of all things creative, innovative and entertaining; a pop-culture aficionado, music nerd and pseudo-certified ~vibes~ specialist (see: wannabe DJ).

    View all posts
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Author

  • Sharifa Duncan

    Sharifa is a Senior Social Media Manager at TIA with 7+ years of social media and digital marketing experience. She's a passionate hunter-gatherer of all things creative, innovative and entertaining; a pop-culture aficionado, music nerd and pseudo-certified ~vibes~ specialist (see: wannabe DJ).

    View all posts


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