August 28, 2023

Benefits of Collaborating With Virtual Influencers

A virtual influencer is a computer-generated character or avatar that exists on digital platforms such as social media. They engage with their audiences in a manner similar to human influencers. With the advancement in AI technology, in particular Generative AI, there is a growing conversation about virtual influencers and how it will impact influencer marketing in 2023 and beyond. However, it should be noted that the use of virtual influencers is not a new phenomenon. Back in 2017, British fashion photographer Cameron James Wilson, created the 3D generated supermodel Shudu Gram and started posting her photos on Instagram. 

Since then, Shudu has gained quite a bit of popularity and followers on Instagram and has done campaigns for Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Balmain. This was just the beginning and as per a CNN report published last year, Facebook and Instagram have a combined total of 200 virtual influencers on their platform. 

The indistinguishable characteristics of a virtual influencer from a real one, where the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, have sparked discussions about the future of virtual influencer marketing.  The role of artificial intelligence in shaping online interaction between virtual influencers and its audience is a very integral part of the game. Some critiques are very weary of the new wave of virtual influencer marketing. There are ethical reservations concerns about virtual influencers potentially taking away opportunities from real content creators. Many content creators are also worried about the impact of AI on their earnings. 

Critics worry that virtual influencers' interactions and engagements with followers might be pre-programmed or scripted, leading to a lack of real human interaction and emotional connection that often draws people to social media influencers. These considerations are quite valid to a large extent, however, virtual influencers marketing also brings with it certain benefits to brands who would want to experiment with them.  Here are the 5 pointers that we have listed - 

# 1 Novelty and Differentiation Factor 

Virtual influencers embody a futuristic and technologically advanced concept. Their existence blurs the line between reality and digital art, which inherently captures curiosity and interest, especially among tech-savvy audiences. 

Brands have understood the benefits of influencer marketing and the creative freedom it brings. With virtual influencers, brands can experiment much more with specific aesthetics, personalities, and characteristics that align perfectly with their brand identity and target audience.

While the novelty and differentiation factor of virtual influencers can be a significant advantage, it's important for brands to strike a balance between their uniqueness and relatability to ensure effective engagement and resonance with their target audience.

# 2 Steady Flow of Content

Virtual influencers marketing aren't restricted by human limitations like fatigue, emotions, or personal commitments. This means they can maintain a steady stream of content, respond to messages, and engage with followers without breaks.

Unlike human influencers who can become exhausted from continuous content creation, virtual influencers can consistently produce and engage with content without the need for rest. This trait makes them particularly well-suited for maintaining a consistent online presence and engaging with audiences 24*7. 

However, while this lack of fatigue can be a benefit in terms of content production for brands, it's important to remember that the absence of human qualities like emotions and personal experiences can also be seen as a potential drawback in terms of creating authentic and relatable connections with followers. Brands need to be mindful of that, and need to strike the right balance between virtual influencers and human influencers for the campaign. 

# 3 Cost Efficiency 

The cost efficiency of virtual influencers can be a notable advantage when compared to traditional human influencers, but it's essential to consider both the upfront investment and the long-term benefits. 

Creating a virtual influencer involves several initial expenses which includes design and development cost, followed by tech expenses which includes the software and speech synthesis technology. These expenses will follow up with content production cost, scripting and voiceovers. 

Having said that, the ongoing cost of virtual influencers will be quite minimal. Brands will not have to pay for individual posts or creatives.  At the same time, content created for virtual influencers, such as animations and visuals, can be repurposed for various campaigns, saving costs on producing new assets.

# 4 Creative Freedom 

Brands have the creative freedom to design virtual influencers with specific aesthetics, personalities, and characteristics that align perfectly with their brand identity and target audience.

Virtual influencers aren't bound by the limitations of the physical world. They can engage in fantastical scenarios, explore otherworldly settings, and demonstrate skills and abilities that human influencers cannot.

Although it's worth noting that while virtual influencers may bring in exquisite appeal to the campaign, it may not resonate with everybody out there. Brands cannot eliminate the human touch of real influencers and they bring their own share of benefits to influencer marketing. 

# 5 Cross Cultural Appeal 

We live in a very integrated world today and inclusivity is a major challenge brands are facing today. Virtual influencers can be designed with a neutral cultural identity or a blend of various cultural elements, making them relatable to a wide range of audiences without specific cultural biases.

Brands can create virtual influencer collaborations that celebrate cultural festivals, traditions, or events. These collaborations show appreciation for cultural diversity and can attract engaged audiences. Virtual influencers can also be used to promote cultural inclusivity and diversity. 

Closing Thoughts 

Influencer marketing in 2023 is dominated by discussion on AI and how it is disrupting influencer marketing. People are also talking about how AI imagery will be the future of fashion photography and the growing use of virtual influencers in mainstream influencer marketing campaigns. This will happen as brands would like to experiment with new technologies and innovation, but the appeal of contribution of human influencers can never be undermined. 

Virtual influencing will never fully take over the traditional influencer marketing space. It will happen alongside it and in fact many mainstream influencers and celebrities will work on developing their NFT avatars which they will license out to brands to be used for marketing and influencing. 

galleri5 is a technology company with over 8 years of experience in influencer marketing. During our stint in this space, we understand the demands of the market and recommend solutions to brands which are cutting edge. We have most recently ventured into Generative AI and fashion trend prediction products. More more information on this, book a demo today!

Kamna Datt
Content Writer
A content writer by profession, Kamna is an Influencer marketing enthusiast writing insightful articles about the space that will benefit brands and influencers alike!