• Virtual Influencers are the new avatars that live on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and different brands’ advertising campaigns. Over the last few years, virtual influencers have been a growing reality of internet interaction, and their influence is such that some of them have managed to collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands.

    Although they are not real people, virtual influencers (an avatar created digitally) seek to create a community on social networks and show a lifestyle like anyone else.

    Brands collaborate with them to create advertising campaigns because of their continued growth and high engagement.

    NOT THE FIRST VIRTUAL INFLUENCER

    We tend to think that virtual influencers can separate us too much from reality when the truth is that we’ve been exposed to this fiction forever.

    We must remember that all the characters we’ve created through literature or the movies industry are virtual influencers.

    Imagine if Harry Potter was an influencer? How would his IG be? Which brands would he work with?

    Stories create characters for readers
    or viewers to interact with, fall in love or follow. They create communities and a lifestyle and even dictate trends; in other words, fictional characters were the first virtual influencers.

    44% of people have the same level of trust in a product when endorsed by a virtual influencer rather than a human influencer.

    WHAT ARE THE PROS

    The planned and implemented strategy behind each post or story of the virtual influencer encourages brands to work with virtual influencers because as well as being cheaper to work with, there is a reduced risk over working with a human influencer. The team behind each virtual influencer has full control of the narrative, deciding what brands they collaborate with, what the avatar should look like, what it publishes and its principles and values.

    Virtual Influencers could be less controversial than human influencers as avatars are less likely to receive negative comments, similarly for brands that use these influencers. We live in a cancel culture; anything an influencer says or does can have huge and lasting effects on an influential figure’s public perception so working with an influencer who aligns to the brand values is incredibly important.

    The virtual influencer content is highly customizable; there are endless possibilities for creative and seamless product integration. There is nowhere a virtual influencer cannot go and nothing they cannot do.

    Carlos Mendiola, associate director of the Department of Media and Digital Culture at Tec de Monterrey Campus Santa Fe, states that it may be irrelevant for brands if the influencer
    is an avatar. Brands are looking for someone who can engage with an audience and raise awareness about their products.

    Should brands create Virtual Influencers?

    Brands should be asking themselves whether they should start thinking about creating their avatar. This virtual character can represent them on social media and build a community like any other influencer.

    Today we can see quite a few brands that have already created a character in their likeness, a virtual influencer who shares all their values and aesthetics and intends to create a community.

    KFC’s fast-food brand transformed the iconic Colonel Sanders into a virtual avatar and used him for several campaigns as the new image. Like any other model, the new Colonel performs and acts within the brand’s values and creates a stronger bond with the KFC community.

    In South Asia, the fashion brand Puma launched a new campaign for their Puma Future Rider sneaker and created a virtual influencer for the campaign named Maya.

    Designed by UM Studio and Ensemble Worldwide, Maya’s personality evolves as her interests are built according to her interactions on social media, thanks to Artificial Intelligence.

    Prada is another example. They created
    their first virtual influencer named Candy
    to represent Prada’s aesthetic and values through their campaigns, building a stronger connection with their audience.

    These brands demonstrate that the future is within the virtual world; future generations, such as Gen Zs, believe in these new adaptations and feel comfortable creating a community around these virtual avatars.

  • “Avatars are a key building block for the future of personal identity in the Metaverse,”  said Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram. 

    Said and done.

    Instagram has announced/released a new feature that is oriented to keep getting closer to the Metaverse. We are talking about its new avatars.

     The Metaverse is a big puzzle, still to be understood and defined, but these digital personas are the first part of the puzzle.

     Instagram Avatars are customizable 3D personas, and they can reproduce your physical features or reflect how you want to be perceived online.

    Adam Mosseri states that these avatars will be the virtual identity people will use to show up across the Metaverse – whether in an app built by Meta or any other company. 

    They are another forward step towards making the Metaverse a reality. 

    Who are these avatars?

    In the Metaverse, users will be able to interact with each other in a virtual environment. However, not everyone has access to a VR/ AR headset. Therefore, Meta has found its way of bringing a glimpse of Metaverse to its users in 3D avatars.

    These 3D avatars are functional, and users can customize them to be more aligned with their virtual identity. 

    Manish Chopra, Director and Head Partnerships at Meta, said, “Representations in the Metaverse should reflect the real world’s diversity. Avatars are just the first step toward enabling everyone to express themselves in their unique ways.”

    Source: Meta

    Why create your digital avatar?

    We see people comfortably talking to the camera, posing and feeling themselves, while we, on the other hand, can’t. Creating our avatar can help us confront this struggle and feel comfortable in front of the camera. Creating an avatar maximizes your creativity and freedom to be whomever you want. You can create a fictional character that does not depend on your physical barriers, just like when you are playing a video game, and you have to choose your skin. It encourages you to boost your creativity and develop new, breaking content beyond the physical world. 

     

    How can these avatars help your brand?

    The possibilities that an Instagram avatar will have for brands and advertisers is something that we will be able to assess in time. This inclusion of avatars has a lot to do with Meta’s attempt to enhance the Metaverse. Therefore, we can assume that Instagram avatar applications will follow this line. And trying to draw some conclusions, the avatar of a brand may become a communication channel for the brand with its customers. Suppose the avatar is sufficiently developed and capable of creating a loyal audience. In that case, it may replace some Instagrammers when promoting x-brand products or offering content. 

    However, it will be difficult for the avatar to supply the impartiality that flesh and blood Instagram is supposed to have when choosing what to tell us. 

    Everything that we choose to offer through the avatar of our brand will have to be measured because we run the risk that the public will finally assimilate our avatar as a mere customer service channel.