Influencer marketing is not a surprise anymore. Opinion leaders with millions of followers are not less popular than celebrities. But is this popularity helping in real life? More and more star influencers claim that popularity is a bargain, which may lead to scandals and unexpected things in reality. In this world of digital marketing virtual influencers may become a new way out. Who are they, how are they involved in influencer marketing and do they have the future? This article will give the answers.
Virtual influencers are a non-human alternative of an opinion leader. In fact, they are computer generated images. They are entirely fictional and are typically developed by artificial intelligence firms. The companies develop online identities of such “people” and then give them a social media presence. Usually, there is a team of developers, consultants and artist behind such influencers. And of course, they are making a certain amount of profit.
Influencers are people, who often come with real baggage. Some influencers have scored massively negative attention that has complicated their brand deals. There were occasions when social media stars have made headlines for missteps and scandals involving influencers are now a normal part of the pop culture. Chances are that this trend is to stay, as long as influencers are real people who can make mistakes.
Being a computer-generated image doesn’t prevent virtual influencers from growing huge followings on social media. And like real influencers they also cooperate with brands and promote them on their pages. A lot of investors are getting excited about the possibility of marketing with virtual influencers. KFC even managed to launch a successful ad campaign in April 2019 based almost entirely on virtual influencers, and Rihanna’s makeup brand used a virtual model in some ads.
It is clear that virtual influencers have a significant amount of influence over their followers. Generation Z is especially in love with virtual influencers. And it is also clear that the teams of virtual influencers are using their influence to promote brands and products. And of course, there’s some controversy around the presence of virtual influencers on social media.
Many people are questioning how virtual influencers can promote products when they cannot actually try them. This makes a mockery of what influencer marketing is built upon. For this reason, virtual influencers run the risk of destroying the trusting relationship with consumers. Besides, if it ever becomes unclear whether a virtual influencer is human or not, it could cause major issues. It should be clear to consumers that these virtual influencers are not real: they’re not humans reviewing products.
The rise of virtual influencers in influencer marketing will bring new challenges and new opportunities. In order to maintain trusting relationships with consumers, and ensure a campaign’s overall success, it’s vital that virtual influencer campaigns remain transparent and ethical. Only when this balance is achieved, brands can gain a positive effect.
Overall, it’s a good idea to plan carefully before you move into virtual influencing. Time, attention and research are needed to build such a strategy. It’s also worth noting that not all virtual influencers need to look like people. Something more classically cartoonish like an animal may also be considered. Cartoon characters were successful in marketing campaigns even before the digital technology appeared.
If you have the ability to experiment, see what kind of campaigns you can create with virtual models. Every idea has the future as long as you believe in it!