Over the last few decades, machines and ‘robots’ have been accused of replacing humans in doing mechanical work around the world. We’re not sure if being the face of fashion brands and music bands count as mechanical but here too humans are being replaced by computer generated characters. Shudu, Lil Miquela, Margot, Zhi and Liam Nikuro are just some of the more popular names among what is called ‘virtual influencers’.
With the growth of social media came social media influencers. As Sam Bradley, Assistant Editor of The Drum puts it, “Influence is big business, Instagrammers, Youtubers and TikTokers are now considered an essential part of the marketing mix.” As such, influencers on social media have built reputations off of their knowledge and expertise in specific domains. These topics could range from fashion and beauty tips to health and career advice, from travel and financial discussions to cooking and film making — everything is now available on social media platforms.
Influencers make regular posts, called content, on their topic of preference to their social media channels for their ‘followers’ to engage with. Their success is counted basis the amount of followers, views, likes etc. they can garner. This is also what defines how much money they make. Brands like working with social media influencers as a means to create trends, promote products, services and more.
In the attempt to gain more control over the output of influence, some marketers are removing humans out of the equation completely. Virtual influencers are created to play the same roles. The creators of these virtual figures choose the way their creation looks, dresses, acts and even sounds. All of their characteristics are carefully studied and created basis the objectives they are to meet.
Virtual Influencer Agencies (VIA) study and analyse discussions over several social media platforms using machine learning, create backstories for their influencers and build a personality based upon it. His or her aesthetics — colour of eyes, hair, clothes, voice etc. — is done so to appeal to a certain audience. Watch this to get an idea of how it’s done:
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