AI influencers are here, but they are not going to take over and completely replace human influencers. Still, if you are a marketer, is important that you keep up with this trend and know how working with virtual influencers can boost your marketing results.
AI influencers, sometimes referred to as virtual influencers are a particular type of influencers that emerged in recent years.
Their appearances are virtually generated and their posts are curated by a team of experts.
With AI tools becoming an integral part of our lives and making it easier and easier to generate entirely synthetic content, AI influencers are becoming increasingly common.
In this article, we will discuss the history of AI influencers, their impact on influencer marketing, and their future trajectory.
What Are AI Influencers?
AI influencers are an improper term in the sense that as of now none of them is AI-powered: their images are generated using AI technology or good old CGI but their interactions are managed by a human team.
Nonetheless, many of these influencers use AI as part of their narrative: LilMiquela and many others include AI in their name or bio to create a narrative of high tech and sophistication around their character.
Currently, the closest to a true AI influencer is Kuki which is integrated with an advanced chatbot and offers the possibility to talk with Kuki herself.
What’s the history of AI influencers
The concept of AI influencers can be traced back to the early 2010s, with the creation of virtual characters for gaming and entertainment purposes. As AI and computer graphics advanced, these characters became more sophisticated, leading to the birth of virtual influencers.
The above-mentioned Lil Miquela is considered the first hyperrealistic AI influencer and at the time of her release in 2016, there was a major debate about if was a real person or not.
Many brands have developed their own AI influencers starting from their mascots. The most successful is CB de Casa Bahia, the face of a major retail brand in Brazil with over 10 million followers.
While initially AI was just in the name while the images were CGI creations in the past year, with the explosion in popularity of stable diffusion and generative AI, have emerged profiles like Milla Sofia whose images are generated by an AI model.
With the advancement of generative AI, virtual influencers will become more and more integrated with the real world and offer a more engaging experience to fans.
Why Some Brands Choose AI influencers over human content creators
According to Influencer Marketing Hub data, 59.8% of marketing professionals have worked with AI influencers, and another 15.5% are planning to do so in the future. Over 60% of the ones that had collaborations with virtual influencers consider themselves satisfied.
These data are encouraging for the future development of AI influencers and show how brands are interested in experimenting with new and innovative ways to reach their customers.
virtual influencers offer a unique appeal to brands as they allow brands to maintain complete control over the messaging and branding. Also since they don’t have an existence outside of social media they are very unlikely to be caught in scandals or controversies.
Since AI influencers don’t exist as people outside of their social media feed but they are managed by a team of professionals it is easier to have them allying with the specifics of a marketing campaign.
How to use AI influencers in your marketing campaign
The data about the effectiveness of AI influencers are still non definitive but what can be seen is that similarly to human influencers the fit with the product is the most important factor for a successful campaign.
Audiences enjoy the innovation of AI influencers but they often still find human influencers more relatable and are more likely to be purchasing an ad involving a human influencer.
Still, virtual influencers are a great way for brands that want to show an innovative image and place themselves at the forefront of a trend that is not going to stop.
Hugo Boss Rebranding (2022)
In the spring of 2022, the 98-year-old brand Hugo Boss underwent a huge rebranding effort in order to increase its appeal to the younger generations. The campaign included many traditional influencers like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber.
Along with them, they partnered with Nobody Sausage and Imma two of the largest AI influencers around. Integrating virtual influencers in the rebrand was a powerful signal that the future of Hugo Boss is going to be focusing on tech and innovation.
Showing themselves embracing new and emerging trends even older and more traditional brands can showcase a vibrant spirit that is going to appeal to the young crowd.
Miquela for Samsung
Miquela Sousa has collaborated with prestigious brands such as Calvin Klein, UGG, Prada, and many others. Among her exceptional work, one particular paid sponsorship stands out her collaboration with Samsung’s #TeamGalaxy.
The fusion of Miquela’s self-proclaimed robotic identity with advanced technology, like the latest Samsung phone, is a match made in digital heaven. Miquela Sousa’s presence as a virtual influencer has redefined the concept of brand ambassadorship.
With her captivating persona and futuristic identity, she brings a unique allure to the brands she collaborates with. By leveraging Miquela’s influence, Samsung has effectively connected with a tech-savvy audience and embraced the essence of modernity, ultimately enhancing their brand image.
Noonoouri for Dior
In 2018 Noonoouri substituted Natalie Portman in the Dior “Rogue” campaign. With her cartoonish appearance and exaggerated eyes, Noonoouri was a huge break for her predecessor.
The commercial copied the original, with Noonoouri dancing while applying makeup. While it would be a standard ad for the cosmetics industry the use of an AI influencer is creating a sense of novelty and unexpected that allows the ad to be much more striking.
The Future of AI Influencers
AI tools like Midjourney, and ChatGPT are becoming integrated with many other services to provide a more personalized and effective experience for the users. With these tools becoming more precise and reliable we can expect to see them integrated with virtual influencers soon.
If the first generation of AI influencers had AI only in the name, the second generation is going to be fully backed by AI technology. Soon we will be emerging influencers whose story arc is completely decided by an AI model.
The integration of “true AI” tools in AI influencers is going to allow these influencers to better connect with their audience. As in the case of Kuki, AI models can be tailored to chat with users while keeping in character.
Once this kind of implementation will be proven reliable we can expect many brands to start developing their own AI influencers and relying on them as brand ambassadors while also including them in much of the online material of the brand.
In conclusion, AI influencers have opened up a new frontier in the world of social media marketing. While they present exciting opportunities for brands to engage with their audience in novel ways, they are still in the early stages of development. As AI technology progresses, AI influencers will become more and more common while also providing better value to brands.