Virtual influencers disrupt digital marketing
“Influencer marketing continues to grow at double-digit rates each year because it’s effective. People are tired of interruptive ads and trust recommendations from those they follow, so expect to see more brands partner with influencers to promote their products.” - James Creech, SVP of Strategy at Brandwatch.
Influencer marketing has been a powerful tool for brands to engage with their audiences. As the market evolves, brands must adapt to stay ahead. With the global influencer market size surpassing £16.4 billion in 2022, brands that overlook influencer marketing risk falling behind. This blog explores the changing dynamics of influencer marketing in 2023, highlighting the rise of content creators, the emergence of virtual influencers, and providing real-world examples of brands that have successfully embraced these trends.
Content Creators vs. Large Influencers
In 2023, a clear distinction has emerged between content creators and influencers. While all influencers are content creators, not all content creators are influencers. Influencers, with their substantial followings, come at a higher cost and have an established platform. On the other hand, content creators, often micro-influencers, offer high-quality influencer-style content at a more affordable rate. Brands can harness the talent of content creators who produce exceptional social content without requiring a massive social media presence. These relatable creators bring a sense of authenticity and novelty to brand promotions. An excellent example is UNiDAYS, which partners with content creators to resonate with the student audience.
Virtual Influencers: Virtual influencers present a captivating concept that marketers need to grasp to maintain a competitive edge. These computer-generated fictional social media characters have captured people's curiosity and interest due to their unique presence. In 2022, 35% of American consumers purchased products promoted by virtual influencers, with a significant portion belonging to Gen Z and millennials.
Several notable brands have successfully embraced virtual influencers. Prada introduced Prada Candy, a virtual muse for their perfume line. While the concept may seem unconventional, virtual influencers are becoming increasingly prevalent, with the market size projected to reach £4.6 billion by 2025. The growing fascination with metaverses is driving this phenomenon, with virtual influencers carving out their own digital spaces.
UNiDAYS: The student discount website harnesses the power of content creators on TikTok, creating entertaining videos that resonate with the student audience and garner millions of views.
PacSun: As part of their #pacpartner initiative, PacSun collaborates with the esteemed virtual influencer, Lil Miquela, to promote their Soho Store. The #pacpartner hashtag has gained significant traction with over 6,000 posts.
Tips for Marketers
Stay updated on influencer trends: Continuously monitor the influencer landscape for emerging trends and changes in influencer marketing practices to maintain a competitive edge.
Leverage content creators: Tap into the growing differentiation between influencers and content creators. Collaborate with content creators who align with your brand values to maximise reach on social media platforms.
Embrace virtual influencers: Virtual influencers yield higher engagement rates than real individuals. Explore opportunities in the metaverse and leverage their social media presence to expand your brand's digital reach.
As influencer marketing continues to evolve, it is vital for brands to adapt their strategies and leverage the changing dynamics. The rise of content creators and the emergence of virtual influencers present exciting opportunities for brand collaborations. By staying well-informed, embracing new trends, and partnering with the right influencers and content creators, marketers can unlock the full potential of influencer marketing and establish meaningful connections with their target audience.