How Online Influencers And Idols Are Using Generative AI

Jan 05, 2024
How Online Influencers And Idols Are Using Generative AI
Since social media entered our lives, influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for brands to build awareness and for individuals looking to become brands themselves.

So, it’s little surprise that the industry that’s grown out of this convergence of powerful forces – celebrity and marketing – is very excited about generative AI.

Just in case anyone still isn’t sure, the term generative AI refers to the emerging class of artificial intelligence (AI) tools that are capable of creating text, images, audio or just about anything else, without being told specifically what to do. Some AI experts consider them to be a significant stepping stone towards strong/general AI – machines that will be able to do just about anything far more quickly and efficiently than we can.

The flagship example is OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has already revolutionized work and productivity in many industries. In this post, I will take a look at how both celebrities and brands are using them to build personal connections with audiences (and consumers).

We’ll also take a look at the emerging trend of virtual idols and influencers, who have been able to build huge fan bases despite the fact they don't actually exist! Let's dive in.

What Is Influencer Marketing?
Marketers have long used the term "influencer" to describe the sway that those with fame, wealth, power, or just a lot of charisma can wield over public opinion. The arrival of social media gave anyone the chance to build their own audience on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok and make money by promoting products and services to them.

What differs from traditional marketing is that it relies on the influencer's ability to develop a personal connection with their audience - usually by positioning themselves as someone who can be admired and trusted.

Today, mega-influencers have millions of followers and can become extremely wealthy through sponsorship deals or affiliate marketing (selling products on behalf of brands). A class of micro and nano-influencers has also emerged, generally connected to niche fields of interest and casting their influence over smaller but highly engaged audiences.

From a brand’s point of view, influencer marketing is often a good source of ROI compared to more traditional marketing channels. This reflects changing consumer behavior in recent years as audiences have diverted their attention away from newspapers, television, and other "old media."

How Is Generative AI Used In Influencer Marketing?
Firstly, influencers create content to keep their fans happy and promote products sold by their sponsors. And content creation is the number one use case for generative AI!

As they often need to create and post multiple videos per day to keep their audience hooked, tools like Synthesia and DeepBrain speed up their work by automating much of the repetitive work involved in editing and video post-production.

The science-oriented YouTube channel VSauce, for example, has used AI to create interactive videos on the topics it covers. Another channel, Code Bullet, covers video game development and programming and uses generative AI to create demonstrations and simulations in this field.

Secondly, influencers – who are often inundated with fan mail – are turning to generative AI for help with carrying out engagement activity.

One of the most popular streamers on the Amazon-owned platform Twitch, Amouranth, created an AI version of herself that responds to fans' messages in her own – AI-generated – voice.

The platform DreamGF is digitizing real-life models and influencers to create AI versions of them that can chat as if they are actual people.

Lastly, generative AI has many uses when it comes to assisting with the day-to-day work of an influencer. It can carry out data analytics to find out what content is working best or assist with finding brands that could be a good fit for collaborations as well as carrying out many business tasks that self-employed people need to keep on top of, like scheduling, regulatory filing and diary management.

The Rise Of Virtual Influencers And Idols
The other side of the coin involves generative AI being used to create influencers or idols from scratch – digital entities known as virtual influencers.

Like many K-pop bands, Eternity boast a big following on social media. What makes them different, though, is that they don’t exist. All 11 members are generated by AI and have been given a unique look, style, and personality in order to appeal to as many fans around the world as possible.

While virtual influencers have been around for a while, often, they are not AI-generated- being designed and voiced by humans. However, some, such as Noonoouri, are starting to integrate elements of generative AI. The virtual singer, who has been signed by Warner Music as well as promoted brands like Dior and Valentino, uses generative AI to create her music.

And at least one agency has sprung up dedicated to the creation of AI influencers, offering 50 AI-defined personalities designed to connect with niche and hyper-personalized markets.

In many cases, the current generation of virtual influencers uses a mix of motion and voice capture, which requires human involvement, and generative technology, which does not. With time, it seems likely that the prominence of humans in the process will diminish as it becomes quicker and cheaper to create influencers entirely by AI.

The Ethics Of Generative AI In Influencer Marketing
The founders of DreamGF previously worked with OnlyFans agencies. As a result, they understand how engagement is often outsourced to create an illusion of a personal connection between personalities and fans, which the personality simply would not have time to foster individually with every fan.

As a result, they told me that creating generative AI models that are open about their virtual status feels more honest. This demonstrates that a commitment to authenticity and transparency are important ethical considerations – passing off AI-generated content as authentically human is clearly an ethical breach.

There’s also the issue of fake celebrity endorsement – a tactic commonly used by scammers to build trust with their victims. Generative AI brings the possibility of more realistic deepfake content being deployed in a more personalized and targeted way, potentially enabling more convincing fraud.

And there are also questions about the effects that building parasocial relationships with digital entities could have on fans’ mental health. Would it be healthy for fans to develop emotional attachments – either to AI-powered versions of real people or AI-generated characters who never existed at all?

As I can only see the impact and prevalence of AI in influencer culture growing, I suspect we might find answers to these questions soon enough. The technology will only improve, leading to more lifelike engagement and more lucrative opportunities for influencers happy to offer it.

Source: bernardmarr