If it isn’t clear from science and pop culture’s fascinations with the subject, AI has transitioned from a fictional idea we saw in the movies to a very real, developing, industry. Whether you believe that robots will take over the world or become our best friends, there is no denying the technological advances and opportunities offered to society by this industry. An added benefit is the opportunity to mesh these advancements with social media, creating a “Digital Influencer.”
CGI Influencers have only been around for a few years- the first, “Lil Miquela,” was created in 2016. Originally met with questions and concerns by the social media community, she managed to overcome this and land a spot on Time’s list of “The 25 most influential People on The Internet” in 2018. Her creation was only the beginning of this developing market and while innovative, it also poses a concern for many.
While digital influencers offer an opportunity for PR ease and new marketing tactics, they also may pose a threat to body positivity and diversity in the influencer community, perpetuating an unrealistic standard for other influencers. There is also a question of how far people will take CGI- is there a point where audiences won’t be able to tell if the model on their Instagram feed is a real or digital person?
As it stands, the influencer marketing community is on track to be worth $15 billion by 2022, and the opportunity these digital influencers afford could certainly contribute to this. Lil Miquela was estimated to earn over $10 million a year, based on a report by OnBuy. These numbers show opportunities for further exploration of the world of digital influencers.
Despite some potential risks, the world of digital influencers is expanding at a rapid rate. This growth is only the beginning, with more digital influencers being utilized on social media every year. With high growth rates, mentions, and engagement rates, there isn’t much that sets these digital influencers apart from real influencers. Using the Tagger Platform, we found these digital influencers who are just as effective at influencer marketing as their human counterparts.
- Miquela Sousa (@lilmiquela) - Created by Brud, the forever-19-year-old AI influencer better known as Lil Miquela has grown her Instagram to nearly 3 million since her creation in 2016, doubling from 1.5 million in the last year. Lil Miquela is not only an influencer but a musician and model, with a resumé featuring a song in the new Amazon Prime Original, “The Wilds,” a Calvin Klein advertisement with Bella Hadid, and over 380,000 listeners on Spotify. She has collaborated with brands such as Youtube Music and Samsung and walked the runway for Prada, even doing an “Instagram takeover” for the high-fashion brand. Miquela’s following has grown considerably over the last year as she continues to collaborate with brands, musicians, and other AI models.
- Shudu (@shudu.gram) - Self-dubbed as “the World’s First Digital Supermodel,” Shudu’s Instagram activity and metrics are particularly impressive for a robot. Created by photographer Cameron James-Wilson, Wilson’s work with Shudu has inspired an entire cast of characters that she has modeled with, though none of those CGI creations have social media- yet. Shudu’s modeling includes campaigns for Salvatore Ferragamo, Lexus, and Christian Louboutin. Shudu has also graced publications such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue Australia, and Phoenix. Her posts promoting these brands have engagement rates as high as 5%. Her following has continued growth at a positive rate, with an engagement rate nearly double the benchmark.
- Bermuda (@bermudaisbae) - Another creation by Brud, Bermuda is friends with Miquela and Brud’s other creation, Blawko. Bermuda’s Instagram following has recently grown by nearly 100k, boosted by her mentions from other AI influencers as well as her posts featuring brands such as Porsche, Degree, and Venmo. Bermuda’s own posts featuring brands have a potential reach as high as 250,000. Known by most audiences as the catalyst for a feud between herself and Lil Miquela that was plastered all over their accounts in 2018, some of Bermuda’s highest engaged posts are from this time period. This just goes to show the extent to which audiences are engaged- even a fake fight between two robots can generate engagement and boost audience numbers.
- Blawko (@blawko22) - Friends with Bermuda and Lil Miquela, Blawko is another one of Brud’s creations. Based in Los Angeles, Blawko consistently posts advertisements with brands such as AliExpress, Burberry, and BornxRaised. Blawko has over 150k followers and an engagement rate hovering around 3%.
- Imma (@imma.gram) - Accompanied by her ‘brother’ Zina, cotton-candy-haired Imma is a digital influencer created by ModelingCafeINC. Her Instagram shows partnerships with Porsche, SK-II Skincare, Burberry, and Valentino. These only scratch the surface of Imma’s mentions, some of them having a potential reach of 450,000. Her future as an influencer looks bright as Imma has since made a TikTok account to further her platform.
- Noonoouri (@noonoouri) - Represented by IMG Models, Noonoouri is the favorite digital influencer of Kim Kardashian, even having a contract with Kim’s KKW Beauty line. Noonoouri has over 400 sponsored mentions including designer brands Valentino, Versace, and Dior. Her most popular posts have engagement numbers as high as 31k, with engagement rates soaring into the 5-6% range.
- Daisy Yoox (@YOOX) - Another iteration of the digital influencer being seen in today’s trends is the creation of one digital influencer for a certain brand. In the case of Daisy Yoox, her character was created for the lifestyle brand Yoox, existing entirely to promote the brand. Featured in the brand’s Instagram posts frequently, Daisy is a customizable avatar that customers can use to try Yoox’s clothing on. Though this try-on feature may have been done before, Yoox has taken this technology a step further by personifying Daisy and giving her an Instagram platform. Albeit a different form of digital influencers, Yoox’s Instagram account featuring Daisy has seen impressive growth in the last year with over 100k more followers.