If you are feeling confused by the title and you are trying to figure out what a virtual influencer is, you are not alone. Even though the trend appeared around 2016 it is still a widely misunderstood and unusual niche of the influencer marketing landscape. To help you out, a virtual influencer is a digital character that was created using computer graphics software. Virtual influencer characters have completely made up, manufactured persona. These characters are given personalities and they will always act as if he/she/it is the influencer.
Virtual influencers can do anything that regular social media influencer does. The only aspect is that a virtual influencer gives you more control and engagement. According to some research conducted by VirtualHumans.org, virtual influencers offer up to three times the engagement rates compared to real influencers. With no further explanation, let us introduce you to the virtual characters that you will most definitely hear about in the future. Digital Instagrammers like Liam Nikuro and Lil Miquela are giving a unique opportunity to brands because as mentioned they can completely be controlled by the company.
Liam, Japan’s first male virtual influencer, is a product of 1Sec, this company is aJapan-based company that was founded in 2019. Inside the companies, the building is where all the magic happens. Most of the posts from Liam are taken from the 1Sec building in Tokyo’s residential building. Liam’s look and persona were created by the “Virtual Human Production” team who will explain the tech behind creating a virtual influencer. Liam is a result of designers rendering artificial 3D images of real models. One of the first steps is to take a 360 picture of a model where they replicate the environment and render an image. Real models are put into a 3D forming software, and compositing software, the result being a hyper-real digital reconstruction of a model's shape and face.
Another interesting virtual influencer is called Lil Miquela. Created in LA in 2016.She has over 3 million followers on Instagram and big partnerships with brands like Samsung and Calvin Klein. Compared to real-life influencers, who come with personal opinions, bias, human constructs, and human autonomy, virtual influencers are directly controlled: captions, poses, and environments are all decided upon by the teams that create them. It may be too early to predict how lucrative the virtual influencer industry will become, currently the influencer market is a billion-dollar industry that is rising exponentially. Business Insider recently predicted that it could rise to$15 billion in the next couple of years.