Virtual is our new reality. In this era of cashless payments and zoom meetings, the world of influencer marketing is following suit with the creation of the virtual influencer.
Prominent influencers can amass a fanbase of over a million followers just by posting content on their social media platforms. So, it came as no surprise when brands and businesses sought to capitalize on influencers and their audiences, and the field of influencer marketing has not looked back since it grew into the billion dollar worth industry it is today.
At the core of it all, of course, are the human influencers. But the necessity of flesh and blood may very well come into question with the rise of a new influencer breed.
What is a Virtual Influencer?
A virtual influencer is a digital character created using computer graphics software. They are given a personality onlookers observe from a first-person perspective, and they share the same purpose of spreading influence as human influencers on media platforms.
What is not a virtual influencer, is a real-world robot with no virtual image of origin. A good example is Sophia Robot and her “siblings” created by Hanson Robotics.
However, virtual influencers can also be “robots” like Knox Frost and Lil Miqeula who are considered part of the virtual influencer crew as they do not exist in the real world, unlike Sophia, and are created using digital software.
How to Make A Virtual Influencer
As mentioned, virtual influencers are created using digital software. Popular options include:
- Cinema 4D
- Unreal Engine
- ZBrush, Modo
- 3ds Max
- Daz Studio
With unlimited resources and tutorials online, a type of virtual influencer known as Vtubers, or Virtual Youtubers, has become increasingly popular among ordinary individuals looking to build themselves a following. Vtubers project a computer generated avatar instead of their real faces onto the screen, allowing them to gain popularity while still remaining anonymous. Companies have also joined in on this trend with Mattels’ Vtuber Barbie and KFC’s virtual Colonel Sanders.
How Does it Work?
Virtual influencing is a form of puppetry with purpose. Pulling the strings behind each viral virtual influencer are their creators, the individuals, brands, and businesses keen to capitalize on the trend to increase their influence.
Creators get to control what their virtual characters look like: their fashion sense, personality, manner of speech, and the way they act. They can then insert them into any location they desire to complete the picture. And just like traditional human influencers, virtual influencers hang out with each other, collaborate, love, quarrel and then make break-up videos galore.
So…What’s the Difference?
On the surface, the only difference can seem to be that virtual influencers are not made of flesh and blood like the traditional influencers we all know and love. But dare to peek behind the curtains and you will see why virtual influencers are on a rise today for the benefits they can bring!
Staying Ahead of the Curve
The rising trend of technology and virtual reality continues to gain momentum day by day and, according to several studies, it seems like all of us find virtual entities appealing to some level.
- 54% of UK consumers find virtual personas attractive to a certain degree, and that number rises to 69% among consumers who consider themselves well versed with current technology — Talking Influence, 2019.
- 20% of people aged under 35 stated they would prefer a virtual news anchor over a real one, while 43% of all UK consumers think that virtual entities and holograms will become the norm in the next decade — Verdict, 2019.
Verdict reveals that 58% percent of us believe that it’s getting harder to separate reality from fiction. “Everything on Instagram is fake to some extent.” Parents disclosed about how they preferred their children to follow virtual influencers as most are made family-friendly and unlikely to exhibit negative traits such as excessive profanity. Ironically, the fact that we know virtual influencers aren’t real provides us with certainty.
Companies and brands are aware of this burgeoning preference, and virtual influencers have been employed to tap into a new kind of audience: us.
Time And Cost Efficient
Imagine influencers that never age or require a wage. Who are always ready launch campaigns on the go and to do what you wish on your terms. These are qualities especially attractive to the fashion and modelling industry who are — shocker — also turning to virtual models to promote their clothing lines.
According to VLSB, this is what happened to Ralph and Russo when the brand commissioned for a virtual model named Hauli to promote their winter collection:
- Received more than 200,000 visitors with a total of 500,000 page views after the campaign first went live.
- Amassed 19.4 million views worldwide for the campaign.
- Gained a media impact value of 65.1 million dollars through the virtual model and digital clothing alone.
Virtual influencers are cost efficient. They earn more for the brand than it needs to spend on them. Costs can be cut down from needing a studio, camera equipment and crew, and makeup material and team. A human influencer sometimes cannot meet deadlines or require re-shoots which delays the campaign’s launch. The virtual influencer’s mistake, however, can be simply corrected with a few clicks and within a manner of minutes.
So, will all influencers be replaced virtually in the future? Only time can tell.
But one thing is for certain, influencer marketing is now or never. Socialveins make it easier for everyone. If you’re an influencer, list your page on Socialveins and explore campaigns. If you’re a sponsor, list your campaign and explore more than 20,000 influencers.