If you are still trying to figure out what a virtual influencer is, you are forgiven, considering that the influencer marketing landscape continues to grow at such an immense pace. In short, a virtual influencer is a digital character that was created using computer graphics software. This character is then given a personality and will at all times act on social media platforms as if he/she is the influencer.
A recent study completed by HypeAuditor has revealed that although the negative follower growth of virtual influencers is up by 18% in 2020 from the previous year, they are still a strong force to be reckoned with. According to Christopher Travers, the founder of VirtualHumans.org, virtual influencers can do anything that human influencers can do, but with more control and engagement. As a matter of fact, virtual influencers can offer nearly three times the engagement rates of real influencers.
The team at HypeAuditor and VirtualHumans.org worked together to compile a list of the top virtual influencers. Without further ado, let us introduce you to the virtual characters that you are bound to hear a lot more about in the future.
The Top 15 Virtual Influencers:
1. Lu do Magalu
In 2020, Lu do Magalu was the most followed virtual influencer. Currently, she is also the virtual human with the most visibility in the world, making it easy to understand why she would top this list.
She boasts more than 14 million followers on Facebook, close to 5 million followers on Instagram, more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and over 1 million followers on Twitter and TikTok respectively. Though, her fame and reach is mostly limited to Brazil from where she originates.
She made her first appearance more than a decade ago on behalf of Magazine Luiza, one of the biggest retail companies in Brazil, to market iBlogTV on YouTube. Since then, she has been featured in product reviews, unboxing videos and she has also shared software tips on behalf of this retail giant.
2. Lil Miquela
Miquela Sousa, or better known as Lil Miquela, is a virtual robot model who has worked with some of the top fashion brands like Prada, Dior and Calvin Klein. She also released one single, “Not Mine”, in 2017 and debuted her first music video, “Hard Feelings”, at Lollapalooza’s online festival earlier this year.
This freckled Brazilian-American beauty was created by Brud, a startup based in Los Angeles. She has close to 3 million Instagram followers, dubbed as “Miquelites”, 2.5 million TikTok followers and more than 27,000 Twitter followers.
Barbie needs no introduction. It was only a matter of time before this blond-haired beauty from the late 1950s took to social media to dazzle more fans. Her biggest following is on Facebook, but she also has huge followings on the other platforms, particularly on YouTube where she assumes the role of a Vlogger.
She boasts 1.8 million followers on Instagram, 10 million subscribers on YouTube, close to 300,000 followers on Twitter, and more than 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. For example, her Instagram post in support of the Black Lives Matter movement received over 40,000 likes.
Superplastic, the world’s leading creator of animated synthetic celebrities, apparel and designer toys, owns this naughty bunny. His obsessions include anything horror related. In his own words, he has described himself as a “fashion horror artist & mixtape producer with obsessions: handbags, axes, designer toys, Billie Eilish, & The Shining”.
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Guggimon first made his appearance in June 2019. You might recognize him as one of Steve Aooki’s hype stars. He joined this world-famous DJ and producer on his Color of Noise tour.
5. Knox Frost
Knox Frost is the top male virtual influencer on Instagram. According to his Instagram account, the 20-year-old is from Atlanta. In one year, he managed to grow his following to more than one million followers organically.
He makes the time to find new ways to take care of his community and his content manages to stir strong conversations. Though, just like so many young men nowadays, he also has a hard time fitting in. While US men in their early twenties make up his biggest audience, slightly more than a quarter of his audience reach is, as a matter of a fact, women.
6. Any Malu
Originally from Brazil, Any Malu is a fully animated virtual influencer that is recognized across the globe. She first made her appearance in 2015 and in five years she managed to grow from an idea to a YouTube star to a transmedia experience.
The Brazilian virtual influencer has more than 1 million fans across Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. Her videos on YouTube have received more than 280 million views. As a matter of fact, she is one of only a few virtual influencers with their very own TV show. What sets her apart even further is that her TV show is powered by Cartoon Network.
7. Anna Cattish
Anna Cattish is a Russian animator and illustrator. She is part of the honkfu visual label that creates specialty animation and character-based imagery. It initially began as a collective of artists more than 10 years ago, but has grown into a boutique studio and label. Three years after the label started, Anna Cattish made her first appearance. Nine years later and she has gained close to 500,000 followers on Instagram. Her work is cute, yet edgy with a touch of attitude.
Originally from Jakarta in Indonesia, Thalasya travels all across her “home country” exploring its balconies and shops. Though, while staycations are currently a thing, this has not stopped her from traveling all the way to the USA to a recording studio in Florida.
As we all know, traveling can be an expensive hobby. So, to fund her hobby, she has advertised for hotels, restaurants and even health pills. What’s more, she also has her own clothing store, Yipiiiii, that she owns with her close friend, Zeline.
She was developed by Magnavem Studio and made her first appearance in October 2018. Since then, she has gained over 500,000 followers on Instagram.
Janky is brought to you by Superplastic, the same creators behind Guggimon. Originally from Los Angeles, this part-time cartoon stuntman first made his appearance in June 2019. His brand mentions include big names and luxury brands like Tinder, Prada and Red Bull. In the little over a year that he has been around, he has already gained more than 750,000 followers on Instagram.
Noonoouri was created by Joerg Zuber, the founder of Opium Effect, a creative agency in Munich, Germany. The 19-year-old digital character has taken the fashion industry by storm and has worked with the majority of top luxury fashion brands that include Lacoste, Versace, and Bulgari.
While her goal is to entertain, she also aims to inform her audiences about various social causes. She is much more than just a digital character. She is also a vegan who publicly supports sustainable fashion. So, one thing that you will never see her wear or promote is a fur coat. She does not really use Twitter and mostly uses Instagram to reach her 300,000+ followers. Alternatively, you can also follow her on TikTok where some of her videos have received 50,000+ likes.
Originally from Paris, France, Bee is the very first influencer bee. He/she first buzzed on to the social media scene in April 2019. The Foundation de France created this loveable virtual influencer to help brands across the globe collect money to help save bees. While his/her Twitter account is quiet, his/her Instagram account is a hive of activity with over 280,000 followers already.
The work done by this little busy bee is crucial as bees play an integral role in ensuring our ecosystems and agriculture remain in balance. According to the European Union, more than 80% of wild and cultivated flowering plants rely on pollination. What’s more, they are also responsible for pollinating 75% of the world’s agricultural crops. If you have watched Disney’s the Bee Movie, you will already be all too familiar with why bees are so important.
Originally from Tokyo, imma has the prestigious title of being Japan’s first virtual model and made her first appearance in July, 2018. Since then, this virtual girl with the distinctive pink bob featured in many headlines. As a matter of fact, the Japan Economics Entertainment has picked her as a “New 100 Talent to Watch”.
Her interests include Japanese culture, art and film. She boasts brand mentions such as Burberry, TikTok, Adidas Tokyo and IKEA Japan. In the 2+ years that she has been in the business she has gained more than 300,000 followers on Instagram and two million likes on TikTok already.
Bermuda is one of the older virtual influencers, though you would never be able to tell that from her appearance. Originally from Los Angeles, she first made her appearance in December, 2016. This it girl, who identifies as a robot woman, aims to motivate young entrepreneurs to go after their business goals. She especially wants to motivate more women to follow careers in the field of robotics.
She also hopes to further her music career. She has already released a cover of Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on Spotify.
Liv is a high school grad who by chance quite literally fell into a surreal future (the year 3000 to be exact) when she stepped into a strange portal. For the time being, she is crashing on her new friend’s coach. She is still figuring out how to return to the year 2020, but seeing how this year played out, no one would blame her if she chose not to return.
Luckily for her and us, she still has her phone that is connected to the present. So, we can conveniently explore the green toxic lakes and alien life with her. She even has her own online store that sells merchandise from the future. From hoodies to crop tops to enamel pins, there is a wide range of apparel and accessories.
Liv was created by Shadows Interactive in June, 2019 and in this short span she has already gained 179,000 followers on Instagram. It would be very interesting to see what the future holds in store for her.
15. Body by Ralph
Originally from Los Angeles, Ralph is a personal trainer and life coach. Just like Liv in the future, he was also created by Shadows Interactive, which was founded by Dylan Flinn.
Ralph believes that with hard work, everyone can look great. As the owner of a gym, he is always trying to create new fitness crazes. Luckily, just like many of the other top fitness influencers in the US, he knows how to make getting fit look like fun work. In addition to 200,000 Instagram followers, Ralph also boasts his own app.
Wrapping Things Up…
You might wonder about the appeal behind virtual influencers. In short, using virtual influencers is not a typical approach to influencer marketing yet. Thus, the right digital character can help your brand to stand out among all the other real people who are already using channels like Instagram and TikTok.
What’s more, as digital content can be created so quickly nowadays, it makes sense why it will continue to be successful. If you are worried that your audience will be put off by the artificial quality of the content, just think back to the characters that you have connected with and the stories they told. We love listening to and telling stories. We have an inherent desire to express ourselves and a virtual influencer is simply another form of expression.