Since the rapid rise & dominance of the social media platforms in our daily lives, Virtual influencer marketing is readily becoming the “fastest online customer-acquisition & retention” strategy for various brands globally. The concept that initially started out as a quest towards emulating the imaginable, unachievable lives of the world-famous celebrities, it has now flipped towards becoming a pursuit more than just authenticity.
With the use of the different social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others, we have now started following those whose ideas, lifestyle, & opinions we might trust or get influenced by.
The Fascinating World of Virtual Influencers & Their Role
A completely new era of influencer social media marketing has landed. In such an era, the notion stands at the point wherein anyone & everyone can get easily influenced or be a digital influencer for that matter of subject. The computer-generated & run models are experiencing a major transformation from the niche-oriented branded roles to highly inspiring, touching, & relatable virtual influencers.
Lil Miquela – The Prominent Leader in Influencer Marketing
Leading the movement is the highly sought-after digital influencer on Instagram –Lil Miquela –a digital simulation that rose to immense fame across the globe in April 2016 owing to the quest whether she is an influencer marketing expert or an art project.
Since April 2016, Lil Miquela has gained over 1.3M Instagram followers as of July 2018. Owing to her increasing popularity, Lil Miquela has risen to become the vocal advocate of Black Lives Matter. Given her immense fame, she has not only been spotted snapping with famous celebrities but also continues to inspire them. It was only until last month when a famous makeup artist named Pat McGrath referred Miquela has her latest celebrity muse and leading actress Len Dunham went on to write a special Lenny Letter in 2016 expressing her fascination with Miquela.
However, the extensive Miquela’s fame does not end here. During her fame period on Instagram, Miquela has moved forward with launching her own clothing & jewellery brand as she lures the global customers with impressive clothing & jewellery collections.
To not put a full stop here, she has even released her own song on Spotify and has made an elegant appearance on the cover of the world-famous New York Times Magazine on Feb, 18. Her increased popularity & positive coverage on the social media platforms has even won her several prestigious brand collaborations –including “#pradagifs from Prada for featuring the latest collection of the reputed brand.
Shudu – The Human-like Virtual Influencer
While the appearance of Miquela might be computer-generated, her overall personality is that resembling a human. Quite contrary to Miquela, another social media digital influencer named Shudu appears highly lifelike. Shudu is a fictional supermodel that has been created by the British photographer named Cameron –James Wilson.
Wilson, after creating the highly enticing character of Shudu, had started posting her images on Instagram right from April 2017. Within a span of one year in March 2018, her character has garnered a worldwide fame of over 129k followers on Instagram. Shudu, as per her creator, gained such fame because she is maintaining her high image in the public eye.
Not only worldwide audience, Shudu has also managed to catch the attention of the leading global brands for effective influencer marketing. Recently, one of her catchy images was reposted on the beauty brand page of Rihanna –Fenty Beauty on Instagram. To top it all, this digital influencer is also capable of resonating emotionally with her social media audience.
Virtual Influencer Marketing – The Future of Marketing
The current ongoing popularity of the various types of virtual influencers across the social media platforms reflects a high-end generation that is capable of engaging even with the virtual, unreal characters on an emotional level. As per a recent trend report, people are significantly getting influenced by the unknown characters towards searching for new kinds of meanings & truth out there. Getting substantially influenced by the role of digital influencer marketing, people are beginning to question “What is the point of reality when a digital character is able to pull out & deliver excellent content on social media?”
In today’s era, being a social media influencer with millions of followers is nothing less than being a celebrity itself –an athlete, an actor, or a rising star. However, the end game for social media influencer marketing is not just the overall audience size. This could definitely be one side of the picture, but not the whole movie.
The fact that social media & digital influence tend to be unique lies in the ability of the given media towards creating one-on-one interactive connections with individuals all across the world –at a major scale. The idea that millions of people worldwide are able to interact directly with the virtual influencers and get to know them personally would be changing the entire face of marketing in the coming times.
Owing to this fact, there can be expected two major results or shifts that might start taking place in the field of social media influencing over the span of next few years. These could be:
- Consolidation of the Brands: As a result of the increasing popularity of digital influencer marketing, there are higher chances that brands might consolidate their overall efforts towards developing a single-source operating system in the long run. As more brands in the current era are starting to shift pieces of the given advertising budget into enhanced influencer marketing, the world can see an increased demand for highly efficient single-source operating systems.
The brands will come out of the phase of just throwing money at the influencers to hope for the best. With this trend, everything is expected to become highly technical with the overall ROI focused on the marketing efforts, managed through high-end technology, and measured through data.
As such, the bigger brands of the globe are looking forward to relying on digital means of social media marketing towards managing effective influencer campaigns & relationships –right from the start to the finish in a seamless & flawless manner. The presence of digital influencers on social media platforms aims at attracting the attention of a huge number of the target audience as well as other brands to enhance the overall results of the marketing strategy.
- Our Digital Versions: One of the major shifts that the world will be experiencing with respect to social media marketing is that we are about to witness more digital & active approach to our passive social profiles –the digital one. In the current time, all of our social media accounts including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and others –are all passive forms of our aspirations, real personality, feelings, & thoughts. However, the given social media platform does not directly interact with the users on the other end. It does not communicate back when someone tries to interact with it.
The shift that we are going to experience over the course of upcoming years is the emergence of the “virtual or digital” version of ourselves that have been implemented into the given social media platforms. Being an influencer on social media and having millions of followers, you will not be able to respond to every single individual out there. Therefore, with this shift, the highly intelligent chatbots in the form of digital influencers are going to represent the real you by engaging, interacting, and talking back to the followers.
Taking the concept of the advent of the digital influencers in social media marketing, the upcoming years are going to observe the emergence of AI (Artificial Intelligence) influencers as well. Individuals from across the corners of the world will be following the digital leaders or influencers through digitally-created characters that would be operating completely through the AI technology. For instance, you can consider the AI version of Disney characters on a social platform having the ability to interact with millions of kids out there at the same time.
There is no denying the fact that virtual influencers are going to represent a huge potential for the various brands out there by helping them not only engage with the target audience on a deeper level but also has a complete control over what the virtual influencers will be representing on the social media.
As the human influencers can be highly unpredictable in terms of the amount of work done & other factors including attracting ample criticism, the virtual creations like Shudu & Miquela have been accepted on a wider scale across the world. This reflects the presence of the huge possibility for the brands out there towards utilizing digital content to drive efficiency & affinity in their marketing operations.
As virtual influencers continue creating newer possibilities for enhanced social media connection & engagement, the virtual “avatars” might be the future of intense online relationships. Essentially, brands in the future generations would be able to create an ideal representation of what they actually stand for, and a virtual spokesperson that the target audience might most likely be able to interact with.