Simply final week, I bought a yoga mat after seeing a sponsored put up on Instagram from health influencer Cassey Ho.
Ho instructions a big following on YouTube because of her bubbly persona and Pilates prowess. Finally, her endorsement was sufficient for me to click on “Purchase.”
However might this influencer magic work with a non-human influencer? In 2023, computer-generated influencers may argue, “Sure.”
Right here, we’ll talk about whether or not digital influencers are the way forward for advertising, and record the highest 15 digital influencers of 2023. Let’s dive in.
Tables of Contents
What’s a digital influencer?
Are Digital Influencers The Way forward for Advertising and marketing?
What Virtual Influencers Can Offer — and What’s Missing
What is a virtual influencer?
A virtual influencer is a computer-generated character or persona that exists primarily on social media and other digital platforms. Just like human influencers, virtual influencers post photos, videos, and stories on social media, interact with followers, and even collaborate with brands for marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a look at this post from Miquela Sousa (@lilmiquela), a virtual influencer with over 2.7 million followers on Instagram:
By all accounts, the post looks real. Miquela, a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, influencer, and singer, is posting a #sponsored post for Calvin Klein and posing with fellow model Bella Hadid.
But Miquela is a computer-generated character, introduced by Los Angeles company Brud in 2016. Each month, almost 260,000 people listen to her music on Spotify. Miquela works with major brands ranging from Prada to Samsung, and she’s even given interviews at Coachella.
All of which raises the question — why should companies pay real human influencers to promote their products, when they can create their own personal influencer from scratch?
Are Virtual Influencers The Future of Marketing?
Before we consider the pros and cons of virtual influencers, let’s explore some examples.
First, as previously mentioned, there’s Lil Miquela. When you scan through her Instagram posts, you quickly realize her captions make her sound like a regular teenager.
In fact, in the following post, she even sounds like she has real emotions, writing, “[One of angel boi’s friends] blew up at me at lunch and stormed out as I ugly cried in front of about 50 strangers… and now he won’t respond to any of my texts”:
While her caption is fake, her followers’ comments are real — many of Lil Miquela’s followers respond with empathy or shared experiences, like one comment that read, “This same thing happened to me once, you’ll get through it.”
Besides Lil Miquela, there are other “virtual humans” out there.
For instance, Xinhua News, a Chinese media outlet, unveiled an AI news presenter in 2018 who can work 24 hours a day without breaks, reducing news production costs. A year later, they unveiled a female AI news anchor known as Xin Xiaomeng.
In another example, Balmain, a fashion label, commissioned photographer Cameron-James Wilson to create a diverse “virtual army” of models for Olivier Rousteing’s 2018 assortment:
The marketing campaign was met with blended evaluations — one follower wrote, “That is disgusting! I don’t perceive why they assume these fashions are engaging,” and one other commented, “As if Photoshop wasn’t sufficient, what’s improper with this world?! #realpeople #realmodels please.”
And, final however actually not least, there’s KFC’s Colonel Sanders, mocking the very development of digital influencers whereas collaborating in it:
Let’s take a better have a look at the highest 15 digital influencers of 2023.
The Prime 15 Digital Influencers
- Lil Miquela
- Lu of Journal Luiza
- No person Sausage
- Good Recommendation Cupcake
- Any Malu
- Ion Gottlich
1. Lil Miquela
With virtually 3 million followers on Instagram, there is no shock why Lil Miquela tops the record. The 19-year-old mannequin, influencer, and singer has labored with a few of the greatest vogue manufacturers, together with Prada, Calvin Klein, and Samsung. Miquela was launched by Los Angeles firm Brud in 2016.
Imma is a digital influencer from Tokyo, commanding an viewers of virtually 400K on Instagram. Rocking bubble gum pink hair, she posts life-style and fashion-related content material and has landed collaborations with Puma, Valentino, and Dior, to call just a few.
She made her first look in July 2018 and is produced by Aww Inc.
You could be considering – lastly, a reputation I acknowledge on this record! Alas, Barbie wants no introduction, particularly in 2023. She’s come a great distance since her inception in 1959. As of late, you possibly can catch her on YouTube entertaining greater than 11 million subscribers.
4. Lu of Journal Luiza
Lu is a well-liked Brazilian influencer with a staggering 6.5 million Instagram followers. She’s a spokesperson for Journal Luiza, a Brazilian retail conglomerate. She makes use of her social media to put up product unboxings and evaluations on behalf of the corporate, and made her first look on YouTube in August 2009.
Apoki is a South Korean singer and entertainer. In keeping with her YouTube channel, her songs are created by multi-platinum, award-winning producers, and the music movies are solely produced by cutting-edge know-how. Presently, she has 4.5 million followers on TikTok since debuting in 2019.
6. No person Sausage
No person Sausage is a little bit of a wildcard. As his identify suggests, he is an animated sausage who performs dances and skits in colourful outfits. Whereas this sounds foolish sufficient, No person Sausage places up some severe numbers, like 267 million “likes” on TikTok and seven.4 million followers on Instagram.
7. Good Recommendation Cupcake
Persevering with with the meals theme, we now have Good Recommendation Cupcake. This cutesy cartoon character sweetens her followers’ day by providing recommendation, posting relatable eventualities (just like the one above), and sharing uplifting messages.
Good Recommendation Cupcake was created by Buzzfeed and first appeared in January 2018. Since then, it has amassed 2.5 million followers on Instagram.
Shudu is the self-proclaimed “First Digital Supermodel,” in response to her Instagram with over 240K followers. Her images exude luxurious, excessive vogue, and magnificence. Unsurprisingly, she’s collaborated with status manufacturers like BMW and Louis Vuitton. Shudu was created in April 2017 by The Diigital.
CodeMiko is a well-liked South Korean-American Twitch streamer and Youtuber. She additionally has a wholesome presence on Instagram with over 120K followers. CodeMiko is revolutionizing the streaming expertise — actually, the Monetary Instances reported that her content material might sign “the subsequent frontier of digital leisure.”
Kyra is India’s first digital influencer. She entered the scene virtually two years in the past, in January 2022. Since then, she has generated over 240K followers on Instagram. She was featured on the digital cowl of Journey and Leisure, India, and has secured plenty of model collaborations, together with Amazon Prime Video.
11 & 12. Guggimon and Janky
Guggimon is a loopy, boisterous rabbit with over 2 million followers on TikTok. Janky, a lovable however incompetent cat, is his greatest good friend. The duos’ off-the-wall antics usually go viral on social media. Each are mascots for the model Superplastic, which creates designer toys that promote out inside minutes.
If you have not heard of this duo earlier than, that may quickly change. Amazon Studios is at present in early improvement for “The Janky & Guggimon Present.” You may also play because the character Guggimon in Fortnite.
13. Any Malu
Any Malu is a Brazilian influencer with over 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube and over 1 million followers throughout Instagram and TikTok. If that is not spectacular sufficient, she has her personal Cartoon Community present. Any made her first look in August 2015.
14. Ion Gottlich
We have seen many vogue influencers on this record, now put together for our first well being and health professional — Ion Gottlich.
He is an influencer and famend bicycle owner. In truth, the German biking group Bora–Hansgrohe lists him as a group member. He actually has a bodily presence — and a humorous, boisterous persona to match. He at present has over 70K followers on Instagram.
Ok/DA is a Ok-pop woman group from LA consisting of 4 members: Ahri, Akali, Evelynn and Kai’Sa. The group was developed in 2018 by Riot Video games, the corporate behind League of Legends.
The music video for his or her debut single “Pop/Stars” went viral on YouTube, garnering 567 million views as of October 2023. They launched one other single, “Extra,” in October 2020, which turned the primary digital band tune to concurrently debut on the Billboard World 200 and Billboard World U.S chart.
What Digital Influencers Can Supply — and What’s Lacking
There are some plain advantages to creating or hiring a digital influencer.
For one, a digital influencer is not human, that means she or he will not want breaks. In case you’re making an attempt to work around-the-clock publishing and selling content material to lift model consciousness, it is sensible that you simply’d think about using a digital influencer, who can put up and promote content material with out sacrificing human wants like… nicely, consuming or sleeping.
Moreover, your digital influencer is not as a lot of a PR legal responsibility as an actual influencer. As an example, Debra Davis, founding father of NKLS — an organization that researches, advises on, and invests in digital and augmented actuality — instructed WWD, “With a digital influencer, a lot extra thought needs to be put into the message. It isn’t simply somebody with a Twitter stream. It is extra rigorously constructed and thought via, and subsequently will be managed.”
Actual influencers and celebrities make errors that would affect the general public’s notion of your model. With a digital influencer, you do not threat associating your model with any adverse press.
On high of that, it may cost much less to rent a digital influencer in comparison with a celeb or supermodel.
Nevertheless, in case your model is contemplating hiring micro-influencers, you will extra possible discover a actual micro-influencer for cheaper.
It is also value noting that a lot of what we see on Instagram is edited, filtered, and posed — so, actually, is an actual individual’s extremely filtered model of “actual life” a lot completely different from digital actuality, anyway?
Lastly, a digital influencer is extremely uncommon and strange, so it attracts speedy consideration to your model. In case your model is making an attempt to achieve Gen Z or a youthful viewers, a digital influencer could be one thing that appeals to your meant demographic.
On the flip aspect, there’s nonetheless one thing uniquely highly effective and interesting about actual influencers connecting with their viewers via social platforms. Digital influencers like Lil Miquela can fake they’ve human feelings, however that may simply as simply backfire if her viewers does not belief the emotion behind it.
Finally, influencer advertising is about participating in genuine, significant connections. How is an viewers ever presupposed to belief a promoted put up when there is not an actual human advocating for it?
Moreover, influencer advertising is commonly most profitable when it is seen as actual and real. As an example, direct-to-consumer magnificence model Glossier has turn into insanely profitable due, largely, to its genuine advertising technique.
As Emily Weiss, founder and CEO, stated throughout a stay interview with Kara Swisher for the Recode Decode podcast, “At Glossier, one thing we have all the time stayed very true to, since pre-launch, day one, is that each single individual is an influencer.”
You will discover Glossier adheres to this technique on its Instagram web page, which displays actual girls utilizing Glossier merchandise.
Again to You
On the finish of the day, there’s one thing to be stated for manufacturers that discover actual folks to advertise their services or products to different actual folks. Positive, there’s threat concerned — however that threat is identical part that allows audiences to belief, take heed to, and join with these influencers within the first place.