Influencer marketing has snowballed over the past few years, with the market size reaching around £13bn in 2022 alone. With almost every major brand running some form of influencer campaign strategy, it’s no surprise that online influencing is becoming a highly sought-after career.
However, recent developments in artificial intelligence have seen the emergence of a new type of influencer – the AI-generated virtual influencer. This has led many to wonder, will AI change influencer marketing forever?
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that involves endorsements and product placements from famous Instagrammers, YouTubers and TikTokers.
Influencers such as Khaby Lane, Huda Beauty and Charli D’Amelio have a lot of power on social media. Brands recognise this and are willing to pay to expand their potential customer base.
It has proven to be a very effective strategy for raising brand awareness and driving sales, but could AI be about to change the game entirely?
What is an AI-generated virtual influencer?
An AI-generated virtual influencer is exactly what it sounds like: a digital avatar that poses on social media, spotlighting products and services on behalf of a brand.
One example of this new phenomenon is Aitana Lopez, or @fit_aitana, a virtual Instagrammer created using AI tools, with over 250K followers. She posts selfies and uploads Instagram stories, tagging brands like Olaplex, Victoria’s Secret and Brandy Melville.
Aitana follows the formula of the perfect influencer to a tee. She embodies modern beauty ideals, posts aesthetic food content, gives daily ‘#gymspiration’, and uploads regular polls to make her audience feel involved in her albeit fictional life.
With many social media stars charging tens of thousands for a single social media post, it’s no wonder marketers have looked to AI.
Is influencer marketing so superficial that the public is willing to accept and even be persuaded by these AI bots?
What are the pros and cons of using AI in influencer marketing?
Using AI in influencer marketing is a controversial idea that impacts businesses, human influencers and the general public.
Let’s dive into the key pros and cons of using AI in influencer marketing.
- Real people come with potential controversy, demands and opinions, and AI does away with all the extra hassle.
- The most popular influencers charge thousands for their services; AI offers a cheap alternative.
- AI could threaten the income of humans working in the industry, a concern many people share today, especially in the creative sector.
- AI influencers don’t have to disclose that they’re AI, leading many to label them creepy!
- The results are mixed; some predict this could be a short-lived hype that will soon lose momentum.
What AI offers is an affordable way to make noise on social media. AI influencers can engage an audience and persuade them to dig into their pockets by releasing endless content in seconds. Programmed to gain attention, fill up space and convert clicks, AI-generated influencers can be a great tool in a brand’s marketing arsenal.
Despite its benefits, this marketing strategy is unsurprisingly controversial and has sparked more fear and uncertainty over the rise of artificial intelligence. Many human influencers spend decades curating their online persona, so the idea of competing with fake AI bots is not exactly welcome.
Whether virtual influencers are a fleeting trend or a new permanent feature is yet to be seen. But what is clear is AI influencers signal a fascinating, if somewhat disturbing, new direction for social media marketing.