Robots taking over the world was once a concept out of a sci-fi movie. Now it’s gone from fantasy to reality with the rise of VIRTUAL social media influencers. Meet Miquela de Sousa, Brazilian-American 19-year-old robot – the most high-profile and successful virtual influencer to date.
She wears real-life clothes by streetwear brands like Supreme and luxury labels like Chanel and portrays herself as a social justice warrior by jumping on the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
As a social media influencer, it’s no surprise that she has 26.4K followers on Twitter and 2.6m followers on Instagram.
You can catch her inner-thoughts over on Twitter:
But unlike other teens, Miquela will never experience acne breakouts or bad hair days. She’ll never know any other teens like herself.
Her bio reads: “Musician, change-seeker and robot” and she is the most high-profile and successful virtual influencer to date.
Virtual influencers are fictional computer generated ‘people’ who look and behave like humans. They are rapidly competing with real-life influencers within the marketing world, with more of them emerging on Instagram every week and more brands queuing up to get involved with this futuristic means of marketing.
Where is she from?!
She was created by mysterious Los Angeles start-up Brud who specialise in intelligence and robotics. CG artists create her imagery, her voice is donated by an actor and her thoughts she chooses to tweet and gram are written by scriptwriters.
Miquela debuted on Instagram in 2016. Brud catapulted her into the spotlight last year by staging a fake hijacking of her account by her CGI rival Bermuda. When Miquela regained control of her account, the forever-19-year-old opened up about her origins in an emotional post.
“I’m a robot,” she wrote. “It just doesn’t sound right. I feel so human. I cry and I laugh and I dream. I fall in love.”
Miquela also called out Brud for lying to her about who she really was.
“I’m so upset and afraid,” she added. “The more I feel those feelings the worse it gets. These emotions are just a computer program. But yet they still hurt.”
What does it mean for brands?
The rise of digital influencers is becoming the norm for brands because they can mould them into the perfect ambassador and make them available to digitally interact with their audiences 24/7.
It asks the question – why hire and pay big money to a celebrity, a supermodel or even a social media influencer to market your product when you can create the ideal brand ambassador from scratch to say exactly what you want?
The rise of socially distanced influencers
CGI avatars have been making waves for the last four years, and while they can never replace people, the demand is high during the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization recently turned to influencer android Knox Frost to help raise awareness about the pandemic among the younger generation.
They’re also easier to work with – if a real life influencer makes a mistake in a photoshoot, they’d have to re-shoot and as a result, the advertising campaign would be delayed. When it comes to virtual influencers, the mistake can be erased and simply amended within a matter of minutes.
In a nutshell, in today’s climate, these fictional characters are the perfect spokespeople for brands because they are the ultimate ‘perfect’ social-distancing creations.