How AI is reshaping influencer marketing

April 17, 2023

No form of marketing evolves as fast as influencer marketing. The rapidly changing social media landscape and the growing popularity of creators alone means that we as specialists must always be on. And have to be open to continuous change. I love it.

Take A.I. In a few months we went from zero to 100. ChatGPT is the fastest growing technology EVER. Where it took Facebook 10 months to reach its first 1M users and Instagram 2.5 months, ChatGPT was on this within 5 days.

Long story short: AI is radically changing influencer marketing, but for the better. And in a nutshell, on two different levels: efficiency & innovation.

Efficiency in labor and costs

Influencer marketing is human work and therefore not as scalable as buying Google Adwords or Display Ads. This can be done automatically. It is precisely the human factor that makes influencer marketing so effective and creates trust. And now A.I. is going to help automate many operations behind the scenes. To name a few processes:

• Matching based on brandfit influencer: A.I. can scan influencers with great speed on the type of content, collaborations with brands and how successful they were
• Matching based on brandfit audience: Does the fan base have a match on the target audience in terms of gender, age and region? And how do they engage with different content and brand collaborations?
• Fraud detection: extremely important not to engage with an influencer who has bought his following, or is followed by a huge percentage of bots.
• Negotiation: Based on the above criteria and many others (think authority, authenticity, impact), AI can help determine a fair price.
• Planning: Strategically planning and distributing different types of content & influencers, their flights and integrating them with other media in the campaign.
• Checking: of content for timing, hashtags, working links, spelling errors.
• Payment: based on agreements and fulfilling them can also be automated.
• Reporting: it is easy to see what works best per influencer and content piece. On this you can then optimize (real time). AI can also read which influencers were intrinsically motivated, which increases overall quality & impact.

Now there are already several tools that offer some of the above features separately, but lack an end-to-end solution. In addition, the intelligence is still missing. Analyses can be made, but the interpretation is still left to people

Keeping up with innovation in the market

A.I. integration not only makes work easier and more effective for all parties, it also brings a huge leap in terms of innovation. One of the bigger innovations within influencer marketing – and which we too have been excited about and experimenting with for years – is the virtual influencer.

Virtual influencers? Computer generated avatars, which have improved tremendously with the advent of generative A.I. like Dall-E and Midjourney. From the so-called uncanny valley, or bad still photoshop images, to hyper-realistic moving virtual influencers. Perhaps you have already spotted one of the more famous ones like Lil Miquela (2.8M followers on Instagram).

They are wildly popular and precisely because the technology has become more accessible and cheaper, you see more and more of them coming. This is why in recent years we have seen more and more brands like Samsung, KFC, Renault experimenting with this. They have their own virtual ambassadors who interact with the target audience, live on their social media and walk along in campaigns.

Looking at the current popularity – but also at the many brand ambassadors such as Ronald McDonald or the Michelin man – we encounter a very interesting opportunity for brands to get more out of their social media, interact with the target group in an unprecedented way and become less dependent on ‘external’ influencers.

But brands are not the only ones catching on to this trend. We are seeing more and more influencers developing virtual versions of themselves that look and sound like themselves. And with the emergence of tools like ChatGPT, we will soon be able to get these virtual influencers to speak without human intervention.

So yes, we can use A.I. to create virtual personalities that look and sound like real people. And by connecting them with A.I., we can eventually bring them to life so that they themselves interact with the target audience. We are all familiar with the limited chatbots that speak to customers and answer questions. In a while, these will become much smarter. And that offers opportunities for customer service, but also for marketing. By responding to the needs of the target audience and learning from conversations, sentiment and engagement, these virtual ambassadors will know what they can best create content about. Or they can speak to you better and more appropriately by interpreting your words used, tone, facial expression or other data such as your heart rate. So brands will soon be closer than ever on a grand scale.

The race between brands and market trends

In short, A.I. is having a huge impact on influencer marketing. It is more effective by automating “mechanical” tasks. Apart from cost reduction, this also increases impact in campaigns and programs. Automation allows influencer specialists to spend more time on strategy, creativity and attention to the influencer itself. Things where we as humans have little competition from A.I. for now.

At the same time, it creates huge opportunities in terms of innovation, opportunities to engage your target audience more with your brand and be able to communicate massively one-on-one.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 10 years, it’s that influencers can’t be left out of a world where people are done with flat ads, where storytelling is key and human connections count. Some brands haven’t realized this for so long. That influencers and the way they are deployed are changing with the times is a fact. The question, however, is which brands have it in them to change at this pace.

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Picture of John Meulemans

John Meulemans

Strategy Director

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