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What do you think of it when you hear the term “virtual being”? True, this may be the first time you’ve heard the phrase. Does it evoke memories of Max Headroom, that time when the Internet was baffled by Instagram influencer Lil Miquela or Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert?
Virtual beings are an evolving phenomenon made up of digitally based characters who are able to create experiences by interacting with their terrestrial counterparts, often giving a face to artificial intelligence. These avatars have apps in categories ranging from video games to beauty.
Abroad, in Japan, virtual influencers have already made a name for themselves, but the methodology is a little different. Virtual influencers like J-pop sensation, Liam Nikuro and the pink-haired Imma exist as a live action body with a 3D head imposed on the true resemblance of the character. Imma has made major activations with brands such as Porsche and Diesel Art Gallery.
Shortly after Lil Miquela provided proof of the concept of space and the success she could have with her 3 million followers on Instagram, former fashion photographer Cameron-James Wilson developed the first virtual supermodel named Shudu.
I think we are only scratching the surface of the use cases of virtual beings. Imagine virtual beings from the hottest musicians hosting parties listening to their new albums sitting next to you as you listen through augmented reality. Imagine interacting with an avatar with your favorite athletes in the locker room before a game.
With the world still hit by a pandemic and the growing commodification of digital goods as non-expendable tokens (NFTs) that are holders with high dollar transactions, conditions are ripe for:
1. A more accessible way for brands to build relationships of influence.
2. New ways for influencers to connect with their audience.
3. Highly customizable experiences.
4. Improved scalability.
The applications and customizations are endless, which is why venture capital funds have invested more than $ 300 million in virtual human-related businesses. But I still haven’t quite explained how this applies to your business.
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This is what happened when we tried
Recently, my agency led two groups of influencers side by side in an experimental campaign for a virtual veterinary service. The goal was to see which group of influencers would get more engagement, the traditional or virtual beings of Genies, with their 3D avatars (which expanded with portable NFT avatars). Our teams face a set of celebrity virtual influencers versus a set of pet influencers (for obvious reasons).
We defined several criteria for choosing our influence groups. The most important indicators were whether they owned pets or had a pet account with a scope that met our threshold and several audience metrics, which helped us determine their fit for the campaign. . We developed digital content in the form of images, videos, and animations that we posted side by side on organic social media, pay-per-view, and app campaigns.
After a month of conducting the two influencer campaigns, the virtual vet service garnered more than half a million total impressions, increasing the average daily visitors to its website nearly fourfold. It is difficult to make a 1 to 1 comparison between these two cohorts, but we can draw some conclusions from conducting these campaigns side by side. Gross figures show the efficiency and effectiveness of working with influencers and virtual influencers to increase brand awareness and user engagement.
In my experience with a virtual influence campaign, there are some important and essential factors that marketing and marketing leaders need to keep in mind when creating this campaign.
1. Although the influencer is a virtual being, they have a personal brand. In an environment where activations have never been more customizable, authenticity remains the key.
2. Think about the audience you are trying to reach. Virtual influencers can produce highly engaging, comparable (and sometimes even surpassing) campaigns to traditional influencer relationships.
3. Digital influencers can generate brand interest and notoriety for campaigns with a higher funnel. Use the parameters of the traditional influencing campaigns you run to test the effectiveness of your brand.
4. Construct a narrative. Whether it’s subtle or for your face, you have the opportunity to tell a story in a unique way (in your own way) and you should take advantage of it.
5. Keep in mind the limitations. At the moment, virtual influencers appear mainly on screens, so they naturally have no real-world connections beyond user engagement. However, you can develop the virtual world around them.
Virtual influencers have the potential to be a cost-effective alternative to working with IRL influencers, giving brands the opportunity to customize campaigns that take advantage of top-notch talent that most would not necessarily have had access to without spending money. . Keep these elements in mind when designing a virtual influencer campaign to make sure you tap into the nuances of the market.