The Rise of the Computer-Generated Influencer

By Adam Bull

Meet Miquela.

Miquela is an Instagram influencer, using her platform to show off her carefully curated outfits, her friends, and fun, vibrant lifestyle. She collaborates with all sorts of brands, from fashion to cars. She has even released a number of singles on Spotify. She is incredibly talented!

Miquela is also not real.

She is a computer-generated influencer, who exists solely on screen across Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

And she is not alone.

There is a growing number of Computer-Generated Influencers (CGIs) across social media, each with their own audiences, interests, and styles. They are designed and run by animators, scriptwriters, and voice artists. They are the products of human imagination and are carefully crafted to appeal to specific audiences. Because of all this, they form the perfect canvas for brands to appeal to the audiences they care about.

At first, it is mind-blowing to think that people would be influenced by someone who, well, doesn’t really exist!

But if you think about it, and also consider the context of everything that has happened in 2020, why would people not be interested in the “life” of a CGI?

From a consumer perspective, we can see Miquela travelling the world. London today, Tokyo tomorrow, and maybe stops in Istanbul and California in the middle. Miquela can also show off clothes, jewellery and technology in the same way a real person can. Miquela creates an aspirational life for people to achieve (even if that life doesn’t exist!).

Miquela’s engagement rate on Instagram is around three times higher than your average influencer too.

CGIs provide brands with an opportunity to demonstrate their products and services exactly as they want. With the world currently in the grasp of a pandemic, Miquela is one of the only people who can travel and world, eat in restaurants, and spend time with all her CGI friends!

Miquela is unlikely to be caught up in a scandal in her personal life that could negatively affect an associated brand.

It is, however, also worth considering the changing sentiment around people’s perceptions of influencers. If people are looking for more relatable, authentic voices, are CGIs a flash in a pan phenomenon? Or, as the world changes and becomes more digital, will CGIs thrive in post-covid life?