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Virtual Influencers Are Warping Reality As We Know It

Plixi Team

Jun 24, 2024 8 min read

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What if we tell you that digital avatars are getting brand deals with Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein? Yes, these are very strange times. Influential people don’t even have to be people anymore. With the advent of virtual influencers, anything is possible. Instead of people creating content, influencers are now the content.

You may have no clue what we’re talking about. Do you know of the new social media marketing phenomenon called the virtual influencer? Yes, the human charm we love from the girl next door influencer is gone. However, a huge corporation can fabricate it for an AI image if you like it.

You won’t need to be in the dark much longer. This article will explain it all for you. So, what is a virtual influencer?

Virtual Influencers Are Warping Reality As We Know It

What Is a Virtual Influencer?

A virtual influencer is a computer-generated personality that only exists on the internet. They are digital characters created using very sophisticated CGI. They come with their own storylines and character profiles. 

Of course, the creators come up with this as well.

They mimic the persona of an actual social media influencer. Some of them look quite realistic. You may mistake them for real IG accounts. Others don’t attempt to look like humans. Instead, they are colorful and more cartoon-like. 

Like real social media influencers, they have specific interests and talents. These characteristics inform the brands they promote and how they engage with followers. Of course, there is a tech mastermind behind all of this.

Between 2017 and 2019, the number of virtual influencers increased. Cartoons and computer-generated images are always fascinating to human beings. 

Around this time, the idea of an influencer was getting popular as well. It does seem natural to marry the two to create a virtual influencer.

It helped that big names were pushing these creations. Fenty Beauty and Prada used a popular AI creation to promote their brands. With this kind of visibility, the concept received intrigue from the general public.

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How Do Virtual Influencers Work So Well for Brands

The idea of AI social media influencers might be a little disturbing. Why would an adult want to follow a glorified cartoon? Well, we have to think about the problems with Instagram influencers now. Virtual influencers solve a lot of these issues very easily.  

So, how do virtual influencers work out for brands? Let’s talk about it.

1. They Are Easy To Control

Human influencers are dynamic. They evolve with time and respond to external stimuli. They have their shining moments. They also have times that they want to etch from their record permanently. Brands can’t always afford to wipe a slate clean. They stand to lose a lot from an influencer making a simple human mistake.

Think about all the apology videos you’ve seen on YouTube. Think of when creators recant previous mistakes with a Notes app apology. That won’t be the case with virtual influencers. The powers behind them can predict and program their every word.

Brands don’t have to worry about a slip of the tongue or a 2014 tweet. There are no wild cards when using a virtual influencer. The concept of “canceling” an AI creation is somewhat ridiculous.

2. They Don’t Age

Think of all the controversy your favorite Disney stars create by simply growing up. You met them as a 12-year-old

Now, they are full-blown adults who want to do adult things. They have to alter their brand to fit their true personas completely. That doesn’t always sit well with the demographic that knew them. 

Some people want to grow. But brands may want them to stay the same. Or, they at least don’t want them to be controversial. Do you know what doesn’t age? An AI-generated computer image. Like cartoons on TV, a virtual influencer can stay the same for as long as you want.  

Aging in Hollywood seems taboo. People don’t like looking at social media and seeing celebrities age, and they don’t have to face the realities of life with a virtual influencer.

3. They Are Flexible

Using influencer marketing can be expensive for a brand. It costs way more than gifts — sometimes thousands of dollars — and may even cost a brand trip to Fiji or Joshua Tree. Brands will have to fly out influencers on their dime. 

Then, they have to hope that these influencers choose to promote their brands well. 

You can’t put AI social media influencers on a plane. But you can edit them in these various locations. You can superimpose your products into images with a virtual influencer. 

You won’t have to worry about the potential drama surrounding multiple influencers in the same place. The flexibility of a virtual influencer is a huge selling point.

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How To Create a Virtual Influencer for Your Brand

And the benefits of using a virtual influencer are clear. Now, you want to find out the logistics of actually creating one. Read on to find out how to create a virtual influencer for your brand.

1. Come Up With a Personality

This is going to be a lot like creating a personal brand. You have to decide which side you will share on social media. Maybe you want to focus on being a fitness influencer or beauty content creator. It works the same way when you’re creating virtual influencers. What will be the overall brand?

What will be the background story? Do they have particular values, hobbies, and interests? It may sound strange to do all of this for a non-human entity. But the reality is that you have to create something as human as possible. And humans have backstories, values, and shortcomings.

2. Create a Design

What will this character look like? Do you want to take the route of looking as human as possible? Maybe you don’t mind if the character looks like a cartoon. There is some value in creating a racially ambiguous character, as well. 

However, for people to fall in love with this creation, its appearance must be certain, and its style must be clear. 

3. Give It a Storyline

Regular influencers have to keep others entertained. They have to do things every day to maintain an audience. 

What will your artificial intelligence creation do to entertain followers? Will it have friends? Will it prepare for events? Will it have problems that it vents to its followers about?

It’s not enough to entertain people with its existence. Yes, the concept of a realistic AI image is interesting, but people will get over it soon. You will need to have a captivating storyline to maintain an audience. Even Great TV cartoons have writers.

How Much Does It Cost To Create a Virtual Influencer for My Online Brand?

We don’t expect you to have the capabilities to create this influencer on hand. The technology you need is new, advanced, and expensive. You are likely going to have to outsource the creation of this influencer to an external body. So, how much does it cost to create a virtual influencer?

We’ll answer this with some help from FinModelsLab. According to them, creating a convincing virtual influencer could cost approximately US$1.2 million. It seems the animation, coupled with AI technology, will rack up to a pretty penny. 

There are more cost-effective pages on Instagram. Meme pages are low-effort yet effective. Some people even put their pets at the center stage by being pet influencers.

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How Many Virtual Influencers Are There?

There are currently over 200 virtual influencers posting among us on Instagram. You might think that you can identify them. But some of them are using technology so sophisticated that it is hard to tell. 

How many virtual influencers are there that you know of? You may have stumbled across a page that looked like a human ran it. 

It might surprise you to learn that it was an AI-generated image. This number may continue to rise. AI technology has only improved over time.


Alt Text: Plixi’s screenshot of @shudu.gram’s Instagram page.

You Can Be Your Own Influencer

The cost of using a virtual model might not be worth it. Social media users overwhelmingly enjoy the charm and relatability of real people. 

Don’t you think that you have what it takes? We think that you can grow a huge online following. Well, you can do it with our help. We have the best possible tools at our disposal.

Plixi boasts an in-house platform for Instagram influencers. They get great support from the proprietary AI targeting algorithm. The aim is to attract followers who like your content. We don’t want to inflate numbers with fake accounts that don’t stick around or boost engagement

We aim to build a community of like-minded individuals. You have quirks that virtual influencers cannot imitate. Let us capitalize on that. We can help you do it. Our team is full of growth experts who know how to do it for you. 

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