03 May Virtual Influencers
Forget robots taking your job. If you are a social media personality, a CGI creation might be coming for your spot in the digital limelight. Virtual personalities are cropping up on social media’s biggest platforms, serving as brand representatives and generating massive followings.
Virtual influencers, as they are called, are computer-generated fictional characters created to be digital personalities. The content these characters star in doesn’t differ much from their real-life counterparts, so the purpose for their existence is complex.
Creating an original character from the ground up gives creators complete control over their every detail. From the clothes they wear to their body type and hair styles, creators are able to customize their influencers entire look. This level of creative control goes beyond physical appearance. Virtual influencers have their own uniquely crafted personalities and lives that creators are able to mold as they see fit. The characters like the brands chosen by creators, they care about the social issues chosen by creators, and they have the life experiences chosen by creators. Creators of virtual influencers are able to control the virtual lives of their creations and craft a story that will appeal to their desired audience.
Gone are the days of spending millions of dollars on animation. Virtual content can now be created on a myriad of devices for a fraction of the cost. Creators who develop popular virtual influencers benefit from their popularity without having to compensate their digital talent the way they would a real model or personality. If the virtual influencers have strong brand alliances, creators can also reap the financial rewards of those partnerships and put their earnings towards more elaborate creations or other ventures. For those with the skills to create a high-quality virtual character, the financial investment in their creation often results in big pay offs down the road.
The potential to accelerate marketing and financial gains is a major advantage to trying out the virtual influencer game. But not every creation needs to have business-oriented benefits. Avatars have long been a fun way for people to insert themselves into the digital landscape and as technology becomes more sophisticated, our personal creations will too. A common critique of virtual influencers is a lack of authenticity. Their personalities are specifically molded for branding purposes so how can they authentically promote a product or advertise an experience? Well, they can’t. Unless their interests are reflective of their creator. When the creator is a brand, the question of authenticity remains. But if the creator is an individual, and the creation is directly influenced by the lifestyle, interests, and appearance of the designer, it can be argued that the virtual influencer is in fact an authentic presentation of that person; not a brand rep or spokesperson.