The influence of social media virtual characters has emerged as a new form of digital communication. It has become a profitable way to inspire large audiences and reach younger users. They also engage with millions of attentive and socially savvy consumers.
In recent years, brands have collaborated with “regular” influencers to create valuable and entertaining content to expand their brand awareness and spark conversations. However, virtual influencers are beginning to gain popularity as a social media trend and are currently changing marketing strategies.
Due to new technological developments, CGI personalities are becoming promising partnerships for brands. Artificially generated models achieve more new daily followers on social platforms, especially on Instagram.
Characters range from hyper-realistic renderings to cartoons. The current top virtual influencer is Lil Miquela, who has 3 million followers. In addition, a doll-like character named Noonoouri has reached 375,000 followers.
They are a new form of fiction — a story invented and told through a post on social media. Furthermore, they are also trendsetters for millennials and Generation Z consumers, where most brands are looking to target.
Digital Influencer Lil Miquela
Stories can be linked to the character’s fictional life, from opinions about trending topics to an ongoing narrative. For example, Barbie uses her platform to discuss social issues and educate her young audience to make them a part of the conversation. Therefore, brands can use their digital influencers to champion their brand and its philosophies.
Barbie sheds light on current issues with her friends on YouTube
A digital influencer comes alive with the latest technologies. With high-quality images and videos, characters are more realistic than ever. Some virtual models have even featured in advertising campaigns alongside their human counterparts. Similarly, virtual pop stars are already exploring the music industry.
Japanese virtual YouTuber, Kizuna Al, launched her first album on Spotify, combining both music and social media entrainment content.
Likewise, through the years the use of virtual avatars has been already shown in the music industry, especially during the early 2000s. Iconic popular band Gorillaz used animated characters in all their music videos, and became a pioneer of this movement.
However, influencer marketing in the entertainment industry is a recent trend that continues to rise in popularity. For example, Korean female virtual girl band K/DA is leading the trend by presenting their members as characters inside famous video game League of Legends.
Brands using virtual influencers look to inspire audiences within the virtual realm. What many call the metaverse continues expanding its recognition.
Virtual influencers reflect how physical and digital worlds are merging and becoming a fully virtual reality. Likewise, the interaction with the “metaverse” is also presented through Augmented Reality.
Prestigious brands like Gucci, Moschino, and Stella McCartney are diving right into this space by extending their online presence with virtual shopping experiences, virtual fashion shows, and other immersive initiatives. Therefore, the emerging of these digital trends offers several opportunities for brands to reach more diverse and engaged audiences.
Virtual characters tend to be more niche influencers. A part of their appeal is the ability to inspire specific audiences that can identify with their content. Having this profit increases a higher engagement rate by maintaining a closer relationship with followers. Partnering with a digital influencer is a proven strategy to appeal to a younger generation on social media platforms.
Therefore, Influencer marketing using virtual avatars allows to create a person that leads the brand‘s message and inspire audiences.
The future of virtual characters and their presence in social media looks promising. Their popularity will increase as virtual reality and motion graphics become more sophisticated and accessible to produce. Successful influencers like Lil Miquela and Imma have reached millions of followers. They are the handbook for marketers wishing to involve brands in this new age of social media and of course influencer marketinga
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