If there’s a way to describe the influencer marketing landscape, it would be “continuous growth,” as it continues to do that at a rapid rate. Along with this growth is the increase in the number of brands that are trying to succeed using this marketing strategy. And with the growth of influencer marketing, competitors are also finding a way to stand out in their respective industries. And this is where virtual influencers come in.
The spectrum of influencer marketing took a 180-degree turn with the growing trend and the rise of virtual influencers. While the importance of human connection remains strong in influencer marketing, the scene has evolved in recent years. Virtual influencers create what may be considered as the next wave of influencer marketing.
As this phenomenon continues to gather momentum, it has also gained tons of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) personalities through the years. In this article, you’ll discover who are the most popular influencers of this generation based on the study and research conducted by the HypeAuditor virtual influencer app. (You can read this HypeAuditor review to know more about the platform).
What Are Virtual Influencers?
By definition, virtual influencers pertain to computer-generated “people” with characteristics, features, and personalities that are based on humans. They’re usually made by agencies for the sole purpose of influencing a target demographic. There’s no exact information as to when the first virtual influencer came from. However, most of these influencers were made from an AI company called Brud. The company created Lil Miquela, who is among the top ten virtual influencers of this generation.
Virtual influencers act like human influencers. They can be ambassadors or spokespersons for a brand. They also use social media platforms to promote brands, post unboxing videos, and share product reviews and tips. You can consider and view virtual influencers just like any other influencers. However, even if they do man-like activities and humanize an entire brand, they still lack in the authenticity and transparency department.
These influencers are often seen as “fake,” but virtual influencers have real business potential—just like any other influencer. Unlike human influencers, virtual influencers are cheaper to work with. They’re controllable, can be in multiple places at the same time, and best of all, they’re less likely to cause PR nightmares.
Trends and Statistics: The Evolution of Virtual Influencers
The landscape of virtual influencers has seen significant growth and transformation in recent years. As of the latest data, there are over 125 active virtual influencers, signaling a robust expansion from earlier figures. This growth is not just in numbers; the diversity and scope of virtual influencers have broadened, encompassing various industries from fashion to environmental advocacy.
- Diversification: Virtual influencers are no longer confined to fashion and entertainment. They now advocate for social causes, environmental issues, and even mental health awareness.
- Global Reach: Initially dominant in tech-forward markets like Japan and the United States, virtual influencers are now gaining popularity worldwide, with notable figures emerging from Brazil, Russia, and the Middle East.
- Technological Advancements: The technology behind virtual influencers, including AI and CGI, has become more sophisticated, allowing for more realistic and interactive characters.
- The virtual influencer market is rapidly expanding, with projections indicating substantial growth in both the number and influence of these digital personalities.
- Engagement rates for virtual influencers can often surpass those of human influencers, attributed to their novelty and controlled content creation.
By embracing the evolving digital landscape, brands can leverage the unique appeal of virtual influencers to connect with younger, tech-savvy audiences in innovative and meaningful ways.
How Many Virtual Influencers Are There?
As the virtual influencer industry continuously grows, the headcount and follower counts of CGI personalities also increase. To date, Christopher Travers, founder of virtualhumans.org, reported that there are about 125 active virtual influencers and there are more than 5,000 virtual influencers on YouTube alone.
Also, 51 new virtual influencers came about on social media just 18 months before June 2020. And as of 2020, virtualhumans.org has reported that there are about 95 virtual influencers with 1,000 followers at the very least.
How To Create A Virtual Influencer
If you want to dabble into the world of virtual influencer marketing, there are two possible things you can do about it. One is to seek assistance from an agency that designs and executes CGI influencers. Another option is to create your own. While this can be a tedious and expensive process, it will be all worth it in the end because you would have built a virtual influencer of your own and your brand.
To create your virtual influencers, consider these guidelines:
Know Your Audience
Knowing your target audience is an essential factor of influencer marketing. So, conduct thorough research to determine the best way you can grab the attention of your desired audience. This will also help you create an audience persona.
Create an Influencer Persona
After generating a persona for your target audience, you can now easily create one for your virtual influencer. This will help you picture out how this persona would meet with your audience persona.
Create and Design
Once you’ve created both personas, you can now make and design your virtual influencer. Make sure you’ve hired CGI experts and specialists so you can achieve your vision and goals. Remember, you have the choice to create a virtual influencer that either looks cartoonish or realistic.
Ramp Up Their Online Presence
Virtual influencers thrive in the social media arena, so as soon as you have your virtual influencer, start ramping up their social media presence right away. Build their online visibility on the platforms where your target personas are active. You can establish your virtual influencer’s presence through quality content and impressive audience engagement.
Meet the Top 30 Virtual Influencers of 2023/2024
Perhaps you’re already hyped to know who is the number 1 influencer. Without further ado, here are the top 30 virtual influencers of 2020 and 2021.
Lu do Magalu
Brazil-based virtual influencer, Lu do Magalu, rose into fame in 2020. As a virtual influencer, she currently has the most visibility to date that made it possible for her to top this list. Lu currently has 14.4 million followers on Facebook and 5.1 million followers on Instagram. Lu is the spokesperson for Magalu, one of Brazil’s biggest retail companies. She uploads unboxing videos, product reviews, and other influencer activities on behalf of Magalu.
The first personality you’ll possibly think of when hearing the term “virtual influencer” would probably be Miquela Sousa, or popularly known as Lil Miquela. Miquela has worked with the largest brands, such as Calvin Klein, Dior, and Prada. Miquela is also a musician and has released a music single in 2017 and a music video for one of her songs, “Hard Feelings.” The Brazilian-American influencer dubs her followers as “Miquelites” and she currently has 3 million followers on Instagram.
You may not be aware but Barbie, the famous blonde doll we’ve known and loved since the 1950s, is now a virtual influencer. She’s active on YouTube as a vlogger with 10 million subscribers. Before she became famous on YouTube, Barbie has gained traction on Facebook and also has an active audience on Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify.
The top 3 CGI personalities mentioned above come with human-like features, but Guggimon comes in the form of a bunny. He was created by Superplastic. Interestingly, he describes himself as a “fashion horror artist and mixtape producer with obsessions: handbags, axes, designer toys, Billie Eilish, and The Shining.” Guggimon once collaborated with DJ and producer, Steve Aoki, in one of his tours.
The Atlanta-based, 20-year-old organically grew his Instagram following through his thought-provoking content. As per his audience and followers, Frost’s posts have the power to strike up strong conversations. The virtual influencer’s audience is mainly composed of young adult American men.
Another CGI personality that hails from Brazil, Any Malu is a virtual influencer that grew so much as a YouTube star. In less than a year, she has received a total of 280 million views on her channel. Malu is also one of the very few that runs her own TV show. To top that, her TV show is powered by the TV giant, Cartoon Network.
This Russian animator and illustrator is part of a visual label that produces animation and imagery that are character-based. Before growing into a renowned boutique studio and label, it had a humble beginning that started with a collective of artists.
If you want to know who are the top 10 influencers based in Asia, Thalasya is one of them. She’s specifically from Jakarta, Indonesia. As the world stopped due to the pandemic, Thalasya continued her trips and even traveled to a recording studio in Florida. Thalasya has promoted hotels and restaurants and owns the clothing store, Yipiiiii.
Also made by Superplastic, Janky is a part-time cartoon stuntman that boasts a name associated with big brands, such as Tinder, Red Bull, and Prada. Like Guggimon, Janky doesn’t have human-like features.
German-made character, Noonoouri, is a 19-year-old virtual influencer that flourished in the fashion industry with a name attached to top brands like Bulgari, Lacoste, and Versace. But beyond her goal to entertain her target audience, she uses her platform to advocate for social causes and actively promote and support sustainable fashion.
Dubbed as the 1st bee influencer, Bee_nfluencer mainly buzzes on Instagram with a hive of nearly 280,000 followers. The influencer was mainly created by the Fondation de France that aimed to spread awareness on the importance of bees and the need to save them.
Considered one of the oldest virtual influencers, Bermuda is a robot woman that encourages young entrepreneurs and motivates women to start a career in robotics. Entrepreneurial topics may require a success story to make your content and influencer more convincing. If you want to excel in this niche, read this Node App review.
Liv in the future
A high-school graduate influencer? That’s what Liv is. Created by Shadows Interactive, Liv is currently in the year 3000 after getting into a portal. She explores the year 3000 by showing her audience the alien life and the more toxic surroundings that exist in the future.
Body by Ralph
Also created by Shadows Interactive, Ralph is an up-and-coming virtual influencer that advocates fitness. He’s a personal trainer and life coach who currently owns a gym and a virtual influencer app.
Shudu was created by her creator to represent a woman’s beauty, strength, and power. Her creator has also created six more virtual influencers in the modeling world.
Brenn is a virtual influencer of color who was designed by an artist and photographer. The purpose of his creation was to uplift the spirit of diversity, especially in the fashion and modeling world. Brenn has already collaborated with the Smart car brand.
Lifestyle influencer and YouTuber Blawko comes in this “bad boy” look and attitude with his tattoos and cool eyebrows. Because of this persona, his growth on Instagram and YouTube didn’t take time to surge. His name is also associated with known brands, namely Versace and Burberry.
The Middle East finally has its first virtual influencer in the form of Laila Blue, a half-French, half-Lebanese influencer. The Dubai-based influencer works as a freelance social media manager.
Looking for a virtual influencer that has Korean and Japanese features and feels? That’s Imma for you. Created by a Japanese tech company, Imma’s name came from a Japanese word that translates as “now.”
Also known as the better half of Shudu, Koffi is relatively new to the game of virtual influencing. With 19 Instagram posts to date and 19k followers, it can’t be denied that Koffi has potential.
Binxie is still new to the world of virtual influencers but she’s known as one of Aliza Rex’s social media collaborators. Aliza is one of the top virtual influencers on Instagram.
Aliona Pole is among the 3 CGI influencers created by a single Russian company called Malivar. She’s deemed as mysterious as she doesn’t have any prototype.
Other than adult-looking virtual influencers, there are also baby dolls such as Qai Qai. She comes in the form of a baby doll with brown skin. Qai Qai currently has 90,000 followers on Instagram.
If you’re looking for a robot rapper, FN Meka is the perfect virtual influencer for you. Apart from his robot skills, he’s also known for his Hypebeast get-up. His character comes in the form of a cyborg with a hand made of gold.
Just like any other teenager, Cade Harper is designed to encourage people on building self-esteem and self-respect. His target audience is the Gen-Z community.
Aoi Prism leads Neo Tokyo with her colorful influence on fashion and lifestyle. She also knows the best spots in Japan and can always be seen wearing clothes with the trendiest and most eccentric styles.
Lil Wavi is created by the London-based multi-hyphenate creative Wolf Groom. He’s a 20-year-old CGI influencer who took one of Prada’s shows into the storm. Wavi is your typical Insta-guy with logo obsessions and is into streetwear.
Amara is Mongolia’s first virtual model who was created by Mongolian 3D artists. She was made under a VR model project that aims to have a nude model for the works of N.Belguuntei. Since the majority of Mongolia are Buddhists with conservative values, it can be difficult to get a model who can pose for nude photography.
Relatively new to the scene, Ava is the first-ever virtual influencer from Singapore. Her name is an acronym that means “artificial virtual android.” Ava is made by its creator to speak for the minorities, raise awareness, and ignite conversations on social, political, and controversial issues.
Japan’s first male virtual influencer and multimedia producer, Liam Nikuro mainly works in the music industry and is also popular in the fashion and entertainment industries.
Advertising is constantly evolving. Brands keep on changing the way they communicate messages, and virtual influencers are just one of these channels. Virtual influencers are still considered a relatively new phenomenon. Before you dive into it and hire or create one for your brand, there are still some factors that you should consider. However, it can’t be denied that in this age of technology, virtual influencers are at an advantage and can offer more engagement rates than real influencers.
Want to know about virtual influencers? Read our “Virtual Influencers: What Are They and How Do They Work?”