How to be a virtual influencer
Everything is going digital, and virtual influencers prove this! You may have seen the rise of online influencers lately, but now some of them are taking on the form of digital characters. That’s right, brands are now using virtual models to promote their goods, and we may see more of them in the future!
You might be wondering why companies would choose virtual influencers over live ones. If you look closely though, you’ll see that they offer a lot of benefits and get rid of various risks. More importantly, you can create one yourself! If you have a company, you might want to learn more about this new form of influencer marketing to use it to your advantage.
Of course, we will start by providing more details about these influencers, such as how they work. I’ll also show you some recent examples and stats, so you can see their current impact on the real world. Then, we will go through the many issues that CGI influencers may bring. Later, you’ll see how you or other companies may use these influencers.
What are virtual influencers?
Otherwise known as CGI influencers, these are models made with computers to serve as online influencers. You’ll usually see them as digital supermodels posing for various fashion brands.
They also move in videos and live streams. You may catch them in videos unboxing products, and they may also talk to fans on Twitch.
CGI influencers are made possible by the teams behind them. A real person is voicing the model. Motion capture also enables this person to move this CGI persona.
Meanwhile, a team of animators, artists, and programmers create the computer graphics for the model. There’s usually a PR team that writes a backstory and personality for it.
You read that right, virtual influencers are made to almost be human, complete with character traits. Also, it’s all planned by the brand that uses them.
It’s a growing trend in Asia, especially in Thailand. SIA is the first virtual influencer agency in the country, and it created Ai-Ailynn in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
SIA saw how much human influencers couldn’t do during the COVID lockdowns, so it created AI. Artificial intelligence projects like this are taking part in the influencer market.
According to Statista, its worth may grow up to $13.8 billion in 2021. This is great news for this type of influencer because we’re seeing more of them!
Examples of virtual influencers
- Knox Frost is a CGI influencer from Atlanta, USA that was tasked to fight COVID! He helps the World Health Organization promote its COVID-19 fund.
- Lil Miquela is also known as Miquela Sousa, a part-Brazilian, part-Spanish CGI influencer with over 3.1 million followers on Instagram. She has worked with fashion brands like Calvin Klein and Dior.
- Rozy is South Korea’s first CGI influencer made by Sidus Studio X. She was the model for Shinhan Life Insurance in early 2021, and also promoted brands like Maison Margiela and Hera Beauty.
- Seraphine Song is another CGI influencer in South Korea. What makes her stand out is that you can play her in League Of Legends! She’s also a pop star with the virtual K-pop group K/DA, with hit singles like MORE.
Read more: How To Become An Online Influencer
Why are brands using virtual influencers?
I’ve teamed up with @WHO to combat coronavirus. Drop a donation if you can to support the fight.
And keep your head up – we’ll get through this ❄️ pic.twitter.com/At76pu1Ff5
— KNOX FROST ❄️ (@RealKnoxFrost) April 3, 2020
You’re probably wondering why brands would use these CGI characters to promote them. As we said earlier, they remove the risks that may come from real-life influencers:
- Control – Companies hold every aspect of these virtual characters, so they could suit any promo. Let’s take their social media accounts for example. The firm has full control of how the influencer will show up on Instagram posts.
- Brand Safety – Real people may sometimes get into controversies. For example, they might post something on their Instagram account that turns off their followers. This could hurt the brand too. With CGI influencers though, this is not a problem because the brand is in charge of all the posts.
- Relatability – These influencers almost look human, and they act as if they have feelings, emotions, and opinions. This makes it easier for people to relate to them. AS a result, the brand has a new way to connect with these people.
What are the potential risks?
- Blurring real and fake – Sometimes, people may forget that the influencer is just a 3D model. Companies may use this to skirt around rules on sponsored content.
- Uncanny Valley – Masahiro Mori coined this term to refer to that uneasy feeling we get when we see robots that look almost human. If your customers feel this around your influencer, they might avoid your brand.
- People may feel duped – If people believed that a CGI influencer is real, they might feel betrayed when they realize it’s not.
Can I be a virtual influencer too?
You can become one of these influencers too, but it will take a lot of effort, time, money, and skill. Let’s say you want to do this all by yourself.
You will have to own all the tools and software needed, and you must be able to use them too. Also, you will need to be able to build the 3D model for the influencer.
Even if you did have all the right tools and skills, this will take a lot of time if you do it solo. That’s why it’s better to build a team of artists and other experts for your project.
Working with a CG firm like Modeling Cafe could make this easier and faster. Just provide your plan, and it will take care of the rest. If you have the means, here’s how to start:
- Understand your audience – Know who you will cater to, so you can start making the virtual influencer. Learn about their traits to see what kind of persona they will like.
- Create a persona – Once you know more about your target customers, build your influencer around those qualities.
- Design the virtual influencer – Speak with your artists about the person you made, so they can draw a model around it. Let them make a bunch of drafts, so you can choose the best one.
- Build online presence – No one will know about your influencer if you don’t promote it on the internet. Use online marketing to spread the word about your new influencer.
- Post content – It’s time to let that influencer promote your products and services. Make sure they show up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You may want to post videos with them on YouTube.
- See how you’re doing – Get someone to check how many followers the influencer is getting. Check if it’s drawing in more customers and sales, and if not, see why that is. After that, make the needed changes so you get the results you want.
K/DA with @seradotwav are featured on the November issue of DAZED China. We've shown you #MORE and we can't wait to go #ALLOUT this Friday. // Outfits by @louisvuitton.#KDA #LVxKDA #ALLOUT pic.twitter.com/YbbIA57Dgj
— K/DA (@KDA_MUSIC) November 5, 2020
Virtual influencers are getting more popular, but they didn’t get this much clout alone. A lot of people are behind these online personas. This is the next step for marketing.
If you want to have this type of influencer promoting your brand, you’ll need a team. The same goes for any type of marketing. It takes too long to make that team yourself, though.
Fortunately, LeadAdvisors can take care of all your digital marketing needs. It has the people who can manage your campaign, so you can focus on your business. Click here to learn more.