Virtual influencers are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of marketing, but they are quickly gaining popularity as a way for businesses to reach and engage with their target audiences. 

For those unfamiliar with virtual influencers, they are digital avatars that are managed by a team of professionals designed to look and behave like real people. 

What is Virtual Influencer and The Benefit For Your Business

In this article, we will explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of using them for business marketing. We will provide tips and strategies for getting the most out of this emerging trend. 

Lastly, we will provide valuable insights and actionable advice on how to leverage the power of virtual influencers to drive engagement and sales.

What are Virtual Influencers?

A virtual influencer is created and managed by a team of professionals but is designed to look and behave like real people. They offer an innovative and cost-effective way for businesses to reach and engage with their target audience, allowing them to create personalised content and connect with the audience. 

Virtual Influencer: How Technology has Changed the Marketing Game

Virtual influencers, or computer-generated imagery (CGI) characters used for online marketing and branding, have been around for decades. One of the earliest examples of a virtual influencer is “Max Headroom,” a fictional artificial intelligence character that appeared in television shows and commercials in the 1980s.

Over the years, they have become more sophisticated and realistic, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and computer graphics. Today, they are widely used in different industries, like fashion, beauty, and entertainment. They offer a unique way to reach and engage with audiences and can help to build brand awareness and loyalty.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the history of virtual influencers and how they’ve evolved over the years, let’s look at the advantages that they offer to businesses. 

Benefits of Using Digital Influencers

The popularity of virtual influencers has greatly increased in recent years as businesses are beginning to understand their strong potential in the digital world.

In this section, we’ll look at the benefits of using virtual influencers, and explain why this is a trend that businesses and brands should take note of.

1. Increased Brand Awareness and Loyalty

Virtual influencers can help to increase brand awareness and loyalty by building a dedicated following of fans and supporters. Unlike real-life celebrities who may have multiple partnerships and sponsors, these virtual characters can be exclusively associated with a brand. As a result, it provides a unique way to reach and engage with target audiences.

This can create a stronger emotional connection between the brand and its followers, leading to increased brand loyalty.

Here are some of the top virtual influencers used by brands to increase their brand awareness and harness loyalty among their consumers.

  • Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela, is a virtual model used by luxury brands such as Prada and Calvin Klein to increase brand awareness and build a dedicated following. She has over 2.9 million followers on Instagram and has been featured as TIME magazine’s “25 Most Influential People on the Internet.”

Benefits of Using Digital Influencers

Image Credit: Instagram (@lilmiquela)

  • Shudu, the world’s first digital supermodel, has been used by several high-end fashion brands to promote their products and increase brand awareness among a younger demographic.

Benefits of Using Digital Influencers

Image Credit: Instagram (@shudu.gram)

2. More Targeted and Cost-Effective Campaigns

Virtual avatars can be tailored to fit a brand’s specific marketing needs and goals. For example, a digital avatar can be created to target a specific age group or geographic location to promote a wide range of products and services on various social media platforms.

Additionally, these characters do not require the costs of paying talent and travelling expenses, which often can be quite high for human influencers, making them a cost-effective alternative.

3. Unrestricted Creativity

Companies can build a virtual influencer that aligns perfectly with their target audience, and desired aesthetic, without the need to worry about existing restrictions, such as a human model’s physical limitations. They can also be easily edited or updated, to adapt to a brand’s new campaign or product, which is not feasible with a real person.

Benefits of Using Digital Influencers

Image Credits: Instagram (@astrolovesu)

4. Greater Control and Flexibility

With virtual influencers, businesses, marketers, and advertisers have more control over the content that is created and distributed.

They can be programmed to align with a brand’s messaging and values and can be used to create and distribute content that aligns perfectly with the brand’s overall marketing strategy. Additionally, they can be used to distribute content across various platforms, such as social media, websites, and apps, providing a high degree of flexibility.

Benefits of Using Digital Influencers

Image Credits: Instagram (@callmewunni)

Also read: Character Animation: Why It Works for Brand Communications

The Dark Side of Virtual Influencers: Potential Drawbacks to Consider

While digital influencers offer many benefits, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks as well. These include issues related to authenticity, transparency, and ethics. 

This blog post section will cover the potential drawbacks of using virtual influencers, and explain why businesses should be aware of these issues before incorporating them into their marketing efforts.

1. Issues of Authenticity

One potential drawback of using virtual characters is that they can raise questions about authenticity. Since they are computer-generated characters, it can be difficult for audiences to differentiate between what is real and what is not. 

This can lead to confusion and mistrust, especially when it comes to promotions and product endorsements. Furthermore, with the increasing use of deepfake technology, it might be hard for audiences to know if the content is authentic or not, which can further damage trust.

2. Transparency and Ethical Issues

Another potential drawback is that it raises issues of transparency and ethics. This is because it can be difficult for audiences to determine who is behind the content that they are creating and sharing. 

This can lead to a lack of transparency and make it difficult for audiences to hold virtual idols accountable for their actions. Additionally, with digital avatars being able to use someone else’s image and likeness, there’s a risk of exploitation, especially with the use of deepfake technology.

3. Impersonal and Less Relatable

Digital avatars, being not real people, lack the personal touch, emotions and connection that a real person brings to the table. It can be challenging to connect with and engage their audiences in the same way that real-life influencers do.

4. Limit to Creativity

While digital avatars allow for unrestricted creativity in terms of how they are designed, styled, and presented, they can also limit the creativity of the brands and creators. And because they are not real humans, it can be difficult for brands and creators to come up with new and interesting content that will engage and interest audiences.

While the benefits of digital characters are numerous, it’s also important to be aware of the potential drawbacks as well. By understanding these issues, businesses can make informed decisions when it comes to incorporating virtual avatars into their marketing campaigns.

Maximising Virtual Influencers’ Effectiveness: Tips and Strategies

Virtual avatars can be a powerful addition to promoting products and services, it’s important to use them effectively to get the best results.

This section of the blog post will provide tips and strategies for businesses on how to maximize the effectiveness of virtual influencers in their influencer marketing efforts.

1. Developing a Strong Personal Brand

One important strategy for maximising the effectiveness of virtual influencers is to develop a strong personal brand. This includes creating a unique and consistent visual style, developing a clear and compelling message, and establishing a distinct personality and voice. By developing a strong personal brand, these virtual avatars can stand out and be more easily recognisable and memorable to the audience.

2. Building a Community

Another key strategy is to build a community around your virtual avatar. This can be done by creating engaging and interactive content, such as polls, Q&A sessions, and live streams, and by actively responding to comments and messages. By building a community, digital avatars can foster a sense of connection and engagement with your audience, which can help to increase brand loyalty and advocacy.

3. Being Transparent

Transparency is important to build trust and credibility with the audience, brands should make sure that the virtual influencer’s status as a computer-generated character is clear, by clearly labelling them as such and providing information about who is behind the character. This can help to prevent confusion and build trust with the audience.

4. Staying Relevant

Your virtual creation or digital avatar should also stay relevant by adapting to new trends, technologies and platforms. This can be done by experimenting with new formats, such as augmented reality, and by actively participating in relevant conversations and events on social media. By staying relevant, they can keep your audience engaged and maintain their effectiveness as a marketing tool.

5. Measuring and Analysing

Finally, it’s important to measure and analyse the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns. This can be done by monitoring engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, and shares, and by tracking conversions and sales.

By measuring and analysing campaign performance, businesses can identify what is working and what is not, and make adjustments as needed to optimise results.

Also read: CGI Influencer: Opportunities and Challenges for Brands

Wrapping Up: The Future of Virtual Influencers

In this blog post, we’ve explored the history and evolution of virtual influencers, and the benefits and potential drawbacks of using them as a marketing tool. We’ve also looked at tips and strategies for maximising their effectiveness.

As we’ve seen, these characters can offer a unique and powerful way for businesses to reach and engage with their target audiences. While there are potential drawbacks to consider, when used effectively, these digital avatars can help to increase brand awareness and loyalty, develop more targeted and cost-effective campaigns, and offer a high degree of control and flexibility in terms of content creation and distribution.

As technology continues to evolve, we’ll likely see even more sophisticated and human-like digital characters emerge, offering even more opportunities for businesses to connect with their audiences in new and innovative ways.

Partnering with an Animation Production Company: How it Can Benefit Your Business

As the use of virtual influencers continues to grow, many businesses are turning to animation production companies to help design and build their own. Working with an animation production company can offer several benefits, including access to a team of experienced professionals, the ability to leverage advanced technology and techniques, and the opportunity to tap into a network of industry experts.

By partnering with an animation production company like Superpixel, businesses can gain a competitive edge and maximize the effectiveness of their virtual influencer campaigns.

Superpixel offers services such as conceptualising, designing and producing mascots or characters that your business can use that serve as your virtual influencer to promote your products or services.

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help bring your vision to life.