Virtual Influencers: A New Trend in Digital Marketing

By Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada


It is a well known fact that virtual influencers are fictional computer generated ‘people’ who have the realistic characteristics, features and personalities of humans.

Today 18th of November, 2020, I came across a popular Aljazeera program called AJStream. I was forutunate to watch a virtual influencer among the discussants on the program.

The appeals surrounding the transition into a fictional world is to embrace a sophisticated virtual marketing tool that can ultimately persuade you or me to see reason for embracing goods, services, ideologies or any social course usually championed by conglomerates.

It is obvious that virtual influencers are becoming a real force in the influencer marketing industry, with more of them emerging on Instagram every week and more brands queuing up to get involved with this futuristic means of marketing.

Behind each of them are clever creators – brands and individuals with a keen eye for technology, but remain faceless. They are responsible for growing their Instagram and other social media platforms by moulding these virtual figures into the internationally recognised influencers they are quickly becoming.

The faceless creators choose the way they look, dress and act. They also decide who they hang out with, date, fall out with and collaborate with via their social media handles. They ultimately benefit from the money these influencers make from their brand deals.

The discussion raised the following questions:
1. Are there influencers you follow that are not real people?
2. What is their appeal to you?
3. Do you think virtual Influencers are able to build an authentic relationship with their followers?
4. Do you think vertual influencers will reshape and redefine digital marketing in the nearest future?

It is important to note that the issue of ethics is paramount in making or stagnating a new innovation. I am sure diffusion of innovation theory can fit into this conversation.

Abdullahi Aliyu Maiwada

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