The secret behind these social media influencers

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

The Secret Behind These Social Media Influencers

Can we trust that they are even real?

Via Instagram @lilmiquela

We all know we shouldn’t trust everything we see on the internet. In the case of social media influencers, are they even human? Or computer-generated models created through artificial intelligence?

Throughout my career, I have studied the effects of artificial intelligence in the fashion industry and how we are all influenced by social media. Understanding AI models is more relevant today than ever before because they are a platform through which brands we follow target their customers.

What are AI models?

To understand what I mean by AI models, you need to understand the relationship between CGI and AI. CGI stands for “computer-generated imagery.” Put simply, it’s the process of creating pictures through the use of computers. Think Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean. Currently, this technology is being applied to create realistic CGI Instagram models. CGI influencers operate with artificial intelligence, making them virtual social media influencers. By using AI, CGI models can know exactly what content to post and when to post it.

They do everything a real human social media influencer would do by herself.

How did AI models begin?

AI models have been appearing more frequently since 2016. They typically started as art projects before escalating in popularity in 2018. CGI influencers are almost exclusively models, with their online presence resembling what you’d expect from fashion influencers. They even have “feuds” with each other, piquing the interest of the general public and the mainstream media.

If you are invested in the social media world, you may have heard of Lil Miquela. With 1.5 million followers on Instagram, she is by far the most famous AI model yet. She was created by Brud, an LA-based tech startup specializing in artificial intelligence and robotics. Since 2016, Miquela’s popularity has not been matched by any other AI model, and according to Time magazine, she is one of the most influential people on the internet. Her popularity with brands is also something real-life influencers wish they had.

She is sponsored by firms like Barney’s, Outdoor Voices, and UGG, all of which are huge brands in the industry. Despite concerns that Miquela is “not real”, she has charmed the hearts of many through seemingly real-life, down-to-earth Instagram posts that capture her personal feelings on politics, social issues, work-life, and relationships with both real people and fellow AI models. She documents her life in a way that makes it impossible to distinguish her from a real-life human.

AI models are changing the fashion influencer and marketing industry as we know it. They offer several advantages to brands interested in testing out virtual influencers.

Recent studies predict the influencer marketing space to be a 2-billion-dollar industry.

AI models are proving to be excellent at reaching out to Millenials and Gen Z audiences, who are typically the most desired target demographic for brands involving themselves in influencer marketing. Younger audiences are supporting AI models, encouraging brands to use them.

Eventually, they will be the leaders of a new generation of influencers.