Content creation in the age of virtual influencers : Discussing challenges and opportunities

Piyush Singh
New Update
Virtual influencers

The recent surge in the popularity of virtual influencers has sparked curiosity about the future of content creation and consumption. Moreover, it prompts us to think about how it is for content creators who have to compete with AI for attention on social media. To understand this further, we talk to content creators, Ashna Suri, Rahul and Ishita Kalra.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a trailer on YouTube for a new talk show. The twist? The host isn't human but an AI influencer. This concept struck me as both peculiar and potentially disruptive though the idea of a virtual influencer hosting a show is novel and it seems to have captured people's interest. This isn't the first time AI influencers have entered our conversations. The rise of virtual influencers on social media represents an intriguing intersection of technology and culture. As brands and creators increasingly collaborate with virtual influencers for marketing campaigns and social media content, it signals a growing acceptance and recognition of their influence. They challenge traditional notions of fame and influence. As they continue to amass followers and forge partnerships with brands, their impact on social media and advertising becomes increasingly profound. This makes us question the relevance of authenticity and identity, and it certainly sparks curiosity about the future of influencer marketing. And amidst all this, what's it like for a content creator to be competing with virtual influencers for attention on social media platforms? Content creators, Ashna Suri, Rahul and Ishita Kalra tell us!

Also Read: The impact of generative AI on content diversity and representation

Discussing the perception around this disruptive technology

The rise of virtual influencers definitely brings both positives and negatives to the table. Rahul too, acknowledges the multifaceted impact of the rise of virtual influencers. He highlights the cost-effectiveness for brands, suggesting that virtual influencers offer a more budget-friendly option for running campaigns, especially with the escalating expenses associated with traditional human influencers. Rahul also suggests a potential shift in power dynamics, noting that brands could potentially "empower brands to create their own in-house characters, giving them more control over their campaigns." However, he is quick to point out the limitations of AI in capturing authenticity and emotional depth. "AI still struggles to capture the authenticity and emotional depth of human faces, making it difficult for virtual influencers to truly connect with audiences." Additionally, he raises concerns about content control and authenticity, particularly in light of potential deep fake scandals. "When it comes to influencer marketing, authenticity is key." He underscores the audience's desire for genuine connections with real people and suggests that virtual influencers may not provide the organic touch consumers seek. While acknowledging the role of virtual influencers, Rahul suggests that they may not be the ideal choice for campaigns seeking an authentic connection.

Staying relevant and authentic 

Rahul spoke about the importance of maintaining authenticity as human influencers in the face of virtual counterparts, emphasizing the unique qualities of humanity such as expressions and emotions that cannot be replicated by virtual influencers. "Authenticity naturally shines through in human-created content without the need for conscious effort to differentiate." He acknowledged the potential impact of virtual influencers on certain segments of influencer careers but argued that the authenticity of human influencers remains unmatched, especially in areas like beauty and personalized products, where consumers seek genuine experiences. Ashna echoed Rahul's sentiment, viewing human and virtual influencers as distinct categories rather than direct competitors. She emphasized the emergence of a new category within influencers, suggesting that the comparison should be between virtual influencers themselves rather than between real and virtual influencers. This perspective suggests a coexistence rather than a competition between the two types of influencers.

Could there be any negative impacts?

Ishita pointed out the pervasive influence of virtual influencers, particularly in the fashion and beauty sectors, noting their impact on societal perceptions of beauty and body image, especially among younger demographics. "Unrealistic standards are set by these virtual personalities and the resulting pressure is felt by many to conform to them. People respond differently to these standards with some feeling motivated while others experience stress and demotivation." She stressed the importance of recognizing diversity and promoting self-acceptance rather than conforming to external standards. Ashna, on the other hand, expressed gratitude for the diverse representation on social media, while speaking about the shift towards authenticity and relatable content. She highlighted the prevalence of insecurities and the tendency to compare oneself to others, acknowledging it as a natural aspect of human behavior. She praised the changing societal attitudes towards trends and individual expression, citing the growing comfort in sharing personal stories.

To sum it up, while Ishita underscored the need for virtual influencers to promote diversity and inclusivity, Ashna celebrated authenticity and individual expression prevalent in today's social media landscape.

Is the craze around virtual influencers here to stay? 

Ishita envisions significant shifts in the influencer marketing industry over the next five to ten years, particularly with the rise of virtual influencers and emerging technologies. Reflecting on the past decade, she observes a surge in influencers entering the scene, which initially led to high payouts. However, as the market became saturated, earnings decreased for many influencers, prompting brands to become more selective in their collaborations, favoring influencers with niche audiences for better visibility and conversions. Furthermore, Ishita notes the transformative impact of emerging technologies on the influencer marketing landscape. "Advanced tools for analyzing campaign data and influencer profiles now empower brands to make more informed decisions about resource allocation. This data-driven approach enables brands to optimize their campaigns effectively, maximizing returns on investment." Looking ahead, Ishita predicts continued expansion in the influencer market, with a growing emphasis on niche-centric influencers. "Brands will prioritize partnerships with influencers who possess highly engaged, specialized audiences, recognizing that such collaborations are more likely to yield meaningful results." Additionally, she foresees a rise in the prominence of micro-influencers, as they offer brands a cost-effective means to reach targeted demographics with authentic, trusted content.

In summary, Ishita anticipates that while influencer marketing budgets may shrink in size, they will become more targeted and strategic. Brands will invest in influencers capable of fostering genuine connections with their audiences, leveraging data-driven insights to drive impactful campaigns.

What are your thoughts on the emergence of virtual influencers on social media? Tell us in the comments below!

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