A new wave of online personalities known as virtual influencers are taking over our Instagram feeds.
We won’t see robots on our streets, but you can find them online – either promoting the latest fashion trends or vlogging their digital lives.
These virtual influencers are flawless — their hair and makeup are impeccable, they can sing, dance, and are free of end-of-career scandals. But what exactly are they?
What are virtual influencers?
Virtual influencers are entirely fictional computer-generated (CGI) “humans” created and managed via software by companies around the world.
These hyper-realistic influencers typically build a following through social media, where they post about their “life” and talk to their fans – with Meta even verifying 35 virtual influencers on Instagram.
They can either be brand representatives to promote a company’s services or products, or they can work with brands – like their human counterparts.
How do virtual influencers work?
Brands around the world are using virtual influencers as a new marketing solution to reach new audiences.
Sidus Studio X, the creators of South Korean virtual influencer Rozy, said after launching in 2020 that “big companies and creators wanted to use Rozy as a model.”
“This year we expect a profit of slightly over 2 billion Korean won (approx.
As Rozy’s popularity soared, Studio X secured further sponsorships from media outlets and luxury brands such as Hermes and Chanel.
However, while collaboration works similarly to human influencers, their virtual rivals require far less time and labor to produce content and will be forever young – most of them aged between 16 and their mid-twenties.
The most popular virtual influencers
1. Lil Miquela – 3 million Instagram followers
Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela, is a self-proclaimed 19-year-old robot living in Los Angeles who has worked with top fashion brands Dior and Prada, and worked with supermodel Bella Hadid for a Calvin Klein campaign.
The Brazilian-American robot was developed by an LA-based startup working in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence called Brud.
She released the single “Not Mine” in 2017 and was listed as one of them Times most influential people in 2018.
2. Lu do Magalu – 5.9 million Instagram followers
The Brazil-based virtual influencer is the brainchild of e-commerce site Magazine Luiza.
She is the virtual spokesperson for Brazilian retailer Magalu and uses her social media to promote reviews, product advice, unboxing videos and updates about the brand.
She founded the company in 2003 and she is currently the most followed virtual influencer of 2022.
3. Knox Frost – 634,000 Instagram followers
The 21-year-old male virtual influencer hails from Atlanta and was founded by social media marketing firm Influential.
The self-proclaimed “universal adapter” uses its platform to promote and advocate for social issues and is working with the World Health Organization to raise awareness about the coronavirus.
A representative from Influential said buzz feed Knox’s partnership has been to make sure people stay healthy and donate to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“Although Knox Frost may be a virtual human, he is having an impact on the real world in this time of need,” they said.
4. Blawko – 140,000 Instagram followers
Ronald F Blawko, also known as Blawko, was also founded by LA startup Brud.
He’s a self-proclaimed “young robot sex symbol” known for his numerous tattoos and street style.
The virtual influencer has his own YouTube channel and is also in an on/off relationship with fellow robot Bermuda.
5. Imma – 406,000 Instagram followers
Imma is the first virtual fashion influencer and model developed by Aww Inc. company in Tokyo, Japan.
Known for her signature short pink bob and high fashion style, she has worked with luxury brands such as Nike, Puma, Dior and Valentino.
She was also chosen by Japan Economics Entertainment for the ‘New 100 Talent to Watch’ and graced the cover of Gracefulness Magazine.
Originally released as virtual influencers competing with human Instagram models