How HUMAN are your digital social media influencers: Meet Miquela and Bermuda hyper-realistic digital humans
Welcome to the World of Literal Digital social media influencers, goodbye HUMAN!
Where would the Human Touch be in the literal World of Digital Social Media Influencers
A month ago, I read about Bermuda and Miquela who were on a digital fight with each other, wherein, Bermuda threatened Miquela to reveal her true identity.
For those of you who are hearing about this just now, these are Bermuda and Miquela.
Miquela has about 1.1 Million followers and Bermuda has about 65,000 followers on this network:
Now, the real ice-breaker, these both are CGI creations, as in they are not real people. They are Virtual Hyper-Realistic Humans.
The confusing part is the fact that such hyper-realistic CGI humans are becoming Digital Influencers for organizations and brands.
For eg. did you know (Src: Wired) that Miquela the virtual influencer has partnered with Giphy and Prada and posed wearing Diesel and Moncler. In February, Miquela said she had never been paid to model a piece of fashion on her feed, but that could change at any moment. (Lil Miquela’s PR representatives did not respond to queries about whether she has posted any sponsored content since that statement.)
On these lines, with respect to the above quote from the sourced site, another name comes to my mind, it’s “Shudu”a CGI “supermodel” created by fashion photographer Cameron-James Wilson. Fenty Beauty reposted a “photo” of Shudu “wearing” the brand’s Mattemoiselle lipstick; since then, Wilson says, he’s gotten offers from a bounty of brands in the fashion and tech worlds, all hoping to work with the CGI model.
Now there are lots of rules to be a legit influencer for eg. you need to use feeds, posts, tags, etc from time to time across your posts that reveal that you are an influencer by using words or keywords or tags or categories or Hashtags like “Paid” “Sponsored” “ADS” etc but the question that comes to my mind is how and will these rules really apply to digital influencers who aren’t really human?
PROS and CONS:
The obvious Pros for Brands for using such influencers is that they are extremely well programmable and easy to control.
The obvious Con would be that they aren’t real so they really can’t tell whether that product or brand or service is doing justice in terms of its quality, services, fulfilling needs or pain areas etc since they haven’t or they can’t really give an opinion about the same.
Here an argument could be made as such though:
The users creating such bots or AI or digital virtual hyper-realistic human influencers could try out those products and share their opinions through these bots or AI or virtual influencers which will make it authentic, but that would require a lot of revealing from the creators point of view which at the end of the day, superimposes the mystery and fact behind such viral sensations which allows these virtual influencers to gain such amazing traction and become influencers in the first place.
But, I have other concerns too. Nowadays, unfortunately, many digital influencers or social media influencers who are real people and humans, themselves at times have openly accepted that they have never tried the brand or product or services and are merely promoting the same online based on the brand’s content marketing calendar and content strategy for influencer marketing campaigns.
For eg. a few months ago, I was conducting a Training hands-on for a group of professional digital marketers and social media influencers about branding strategy, marketing management and marketing research since lots of organisations today are concerned with the fact that, todays social media digital influencers are not (most of them) in sync with branding, marketing, management, product value proposition and positioning etc which are all crucial aspects of marketing.
During the digital marketing training one of the social media influencers asked me, “How can I make sure my followers appreciate and are really influenced by my endorsements?” This was a good question according to me as it showed that this influencer really cared about making that impact with the followers.
But then when the same influencer told me that ‘she’ has never used most of the products or read majority of the books she endorses or even more than 80% of the time, never really visited the said restaurant or hotel, it scared me!
As a responsible digital marketer, it hurt my intelligence and questioned the dedication that many influencers might have.
Well, sometimes, yes, I can understand that using a product or a brand or a service might not be possible at all times, but at least in that case, as a responsible digital marketing social media influencer, it is our duty to ensure that we have enough data, information, research done from our end itself about the brand, product and or organization before going on an endorsing spree online just to make good money.
Remember, at the end of the day, it is social media and the core is ‘social’, which means the human touch has to be genuine and real.
Eventually I wouldn’t be surprised if I see horde of brands, organizations, digital marketing professionals, social media influencers etc creating digital versions of themselves as influencers for different niche segments.
Simple example would be of an individual who has multiple interests across fields, industries etc. But let’s say, that particular influencer has garnered lot of attention as a social media influencer for let’s say TRAVEL, he or she might not want to promote marketing or management in that same profile in which too, the said individual is having an expertise. So they create virtual avatars of themselves across different profiles and own multiple influencer profiles promoting products, brands and services across industries focused on niche segments and targeted users. Now, this is fine, since we are talking about humans, who are real, are promoting brands and services they truly believe in, understand and so on.
But, here is the ETHICAL dilemma:
My question is, what is stopping these virtual avatars soon to create multiple versions of themselves, quickly multiple at a rapid pace and become brand or digital influencers across multiple profiles wherein not even a single profile is authentic or genuine and has never really had an experience with a brand or a product.
So as my soliloquies wander as I am typing on my laptop and realising that my vehicle is slowly reaching my Digital agency, I ask myself yet another question: “When there are so many celebrities endorsing brands or products which for many good reasons we can honestly believe that they have never tried that brand or product and are never going to, why create so much fuss about virtual humans promoting brands or products and becoming influencers?”
How do you see the world of digital advertising, brand influencers etc take over or impact the world over the years?
What kind of changes are needed desperately from a digital influencers point of view?
What kind of major edits are needed from a brand or an organizations point of view and most importantly, what kind of changes or right to information is needed from an end user or prospective customer or a consumers point of view in the world of PROMOTIONS and Advertising of brands and services?
Whether you are a celebrity endorsing it or a digital marketing social media influencer promoting it or a virtual human adverting and marketing the same, through its virtual profiles, how do you justify to the brand or the end users about your GENUINE review or feedback?
On Similar lines, how do brands who use such influencers justify to their end customers or prospects about the genuineness of such promotions today?
Let me know your views and take on this.
What are your thoughts and comments?
Would love to hear from all of you.
On a much lighter note, in case you are planning to promote your brand, products, services or organization across these industries / fields of study (Automobiles, Marketing, Branding, Management, MBA, Books Fiction & Non-fiction, Fitness, Health & lifestyle, Travel, Digital Marketing, Social Media ROI, Influencer Marketing, Digital Strategy, Technology integrated Marketing, AR, VR, IoT, BigData) and are looking for a Digital Influencer or a Social media influencer, feel free to reach me here: www.ananthv.com or drop in your comment here and I will revert, well, me being human and all!
Have a great day ahead.