Virtual Influencers: The Rise of Computer-Generated Personas in Influencer Marketing

Posted on January 12, 2024

Written by Yuhwen Foong

In the world of marketing and advertising, influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and effective ways to reach consumers and promote products or services. However, with the increasing demand for influencer marketing, a new trend has emerged in the form of virtual influencers. I know this can seem so hard to believe, but it’s actually a thing! Just do a quick google search on Vtubers and you will see a bunch of them on YouTube. These computer-generated personas exist solely online and are used to promote brands, products, or services on social media platforms. They are created through digital means such as computer-generated imagery (CGI) and machine learning algorithms.

The rise of virtual influencers is a result of the increasing demand for influencer marketing and the limitations that come with using real-life influencers. For businesses, virtual influencers offer a number of benefits, including a consistent and customizable appearance, the ability to reach a large, global audience, and the ability to be active 24/7. They can also provide a cost-effective and scalable way to reach consumers through influencer marketing.

Pros of Using Virtual Influencers 

One of the biggest benefits of using virtual influencers is their consistent appearance and persona. It’s like having someone famous and beautiful without the diva attitude! All influencer marketing agencies dream come true! Unlike human influencers, who may change their appearance or brand image over time, virtual influencers maintain the same look and personality, allowing them to build a strong brand identity and connect with their followers. They can also be customized to fit a specific brand or product, which can be particularly useful for campaigns that require a specific image or persona.

Another advantage of virtual influencers is their reach and availability. With virtual influencers, businesses can reach a large, global audience 24/7, as they are not limited by physical restrictions or the need for rest. They can also interact with followers in real-time, allowing them to respond to questions, participate in discussions, and promote products or services. This can lead to increased engagement and brand awareness, as well as the development of a loyal and engaged following.

Limitations of Using Virtual Influencers
One of the biggest limitations is that virtual influencers lack the personal connection and unique perspective that human influencers can offer. Of course, AI is not that amazing just yet but who knows in 10 years? All things are possible indeed. What are some of these traits lacking in a Virtual Influencer? Human influencers often have a strong relationship with their followers, which can be valuable in building brand loyalty and trust. They also provide a personal touch that can be difficult to replicate with virtual influencers.

When it comes to choosing between virtual influencers and human influencers, it ultimately depends on the specific campaign and audience being targeted. For businesses looking to reach a large, global audience and maintain a consistent image, virtual influencers may be the best option. On the other hand, for campaigns that require a personal touch and strong relationship with followers, human influencers may be more effective.

Let us back track a little, Is this a new concept? Actually, no. Virtual influencers have been around for a few years, with the first examples appearing in the early to mid-2010s. One of the earliest and most well-known virtual influencers is Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, who first appeared on social media in 2016. Lil Miquela became so famous she did a campaign promoting a video game "Virtual Popstar" by Niantic. The campaign saw a significant increase in engagement and brand awareness, with followers interacting with Lil Miquela's posts and engaging in the game's promotion. This highlights the effectiveness of virtual influencer campaigns in promoting video games and other forms of entertainment. A full case study done by on Lil Miquela can be found HERE.

As of 7 Feb 2023, Lil Miquela has over 2.8M followers on social media. 

Malaysians are also quick to adopt the idea of using Virtual Influencers. Our homegrown virtual influencer such as Melodee (Instagram: Melodee_v2) already has over 5,000 followers on Instagram.

As seen here, Melodee meets local influencer QiuWen (Instagram: Qiuwen_1014). 

In conclusion, virtual influencers are a new and growing trend in the world of influencer marketing. They offer businesses a number of benefits, including a consistent appearance and persona, a large reach and availability, and cost-effectiveness. However, they also have some limitations, including a lack of personal connection and unique perspective. Ultimately, the decision to use virtual influencers or human influencers will depend on the specific campaign and audience being targeted. But as technology continues to advance, it is likely that virtual influencers will play an increasingly important role in the world of influencer marketing. We certainly look forward to working with this new generation of social media influencers here at SushiVid!

It truly is a strange and exciting world that we live in today! There is still so much to learn. I found this article to be really useful to know the various different types of virtual influencers. You can check it out here. If you’re interested to know about a certain topic, please feel free to write to us at [email protected]