There is something very unique happening in the realm of retail marketing right now. Brands have found a way to remove the human component from influencer marketing while also increasing their ability to make sure their influencers stay on-message to their brand goals. The question is, of course, how are they doing this? Very simply, by hiring influencers which do not actually exist. That’s right… in the human sense of the word, a handful of today’s most influential brand advocates – such as Lil Miquela and Blawko22 – do not actually exist. Rather, they are not living, breathing, beings… but are a carefully-curated mixture of AI intelligence and digital art interacting with the world solely through their social media profiles and brand endorsements.
What exactly are they?
These influencers aren’t just digital, they are digital-only. Perhaps the biggest advantages of working with digitized influencers is that modern consumers of all ages are veritably obsessed with the newest advancements in technology. So, digital-only influencers generate online traffic with their mere existence, as consumers watch them closely to see what’s next in digital marketing. Let’s take a deeper look at how brands are using digital influencers to take their marketing campaigns up a notch, and how retailers can use consumers’ growing fixation with digital influencers to benefit their campaigns.
Why are customers so obsessed?
As of today, digital-only influencer Lil Miquela has 1.1 million followers and has collaborated with such heavy-hitting brands as Prada and Pat McGrath. What’s the secret to acquiring this level of success and engagement? Besides plenty of online robot-drama, the answer lies in customer engagement. Since Lil Miquela is a digital personality based in AI, she is able to personally respond to most of the users who message or DM her. This one-on-one digital interaction creates a personal connection with fans on a macro-level, enabling her to individually engage more fans than a single human being ever could… thus creating a broad scope of influence with real fans who are personally invested in her success.
What is the ROI on this type of marketing?
There’s major money to be made for retailers who invest in influencer marketing. Wharton reports that, “Influencer marketing delivers an average return of $6.50 (per dollar spent), with the top 13% of marketers making $20 or more.” So, how does this translate into investing in partnering with digital-only influencers? We can only speculate that, like any other influencer, the price of a partnership depends on the scale of their reach. Digital-only influencers are still a relatively new concept and few brands have mastered the fine art of creating realistic digitized influencers capable of creating a cult following, such as Lil Miquela. However, in Lil Miquela’s recent Instagram “hack,” AI marketing and robotics platform Brud was identified as the creator of Lil Miquela, as well as both Blawko22 and Bermudaisbae.
How can retailers benefit?
Until partnerships with digitized influencers become more widely available (and affordable) for mainstream retailers, their popularity will have to serve as a resource to teach retailers what consumers really look for in social media marketing. The increasing popularity of digitized influencers can teach retailers how important it is to meet and greet each individual customer on a one-on-one basis. Lil Miquela’s high fashion brand collaborations in particular are proof that customers value personalization – in this case, being recognized and spoken to like human beings – more than anything else… often even more than having an actual human interaction. Beyond this, digital-only influencers can help retailers discover rthe value of aligning with a cause relevant to their target demographic, as each of Brud’s influencers are geared towards a specific cause-oriented audience of followers.
Digital influencers are setting the precedent for affiliate marketing. We can gain a more comprehensive glimpse of how marketing is going to look in the future by studying how these digital-only personas interact with consumers and promote the brands they partner with. Keeping this in mind, consider how digital influencers may impact your retail business and likewise… your competitions, as well. It may just be they’re starting to redefine the face of marketing – and retail – forever.
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By Jasmine Glasheen, RetailMinded.com