Instagram influencers aren’t new news. 89% of marketers agree that collaborating with influencers can boost brands success on Instagram.
The market size for influencers on Instagram globally is growing at 50% annually and projected to hit $2.38 billion by 2019. It means that everyone will be trying to get a piece of the cake.
You can go the traditional route, or you can be a pioneer, open your eyes, and figure out what’s trending and how you might be able to craft your own solutions.
The latest trend in influencers marketing is the rise of CGI characters like Lil Miquela
Although she is not real (from a biological perspective), Lil Miquela provides an array of real insights (from a business perspective) that marketers can take with them.
Read on to learn how you can capitalize on CGI Instagram Influencers’ success (regardless of your capabilities) to generate your own unique vibe on Instagram.
“Born” into the social media world just a couple of years ago, CGI characters are taking over Instagram. They are picking up followers quicker than movie stars, singers, TV celebrities, athletes, and other high-profile and popular flesh-and-blood influencers.
But what exactly is a CGI character? Let’s check the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus:
And online, we should add.
CGI characters are the 21 Century version of a cartoon (sorry Mickey Mouse, hope you have a good retirement plan!) or, as someone predicts, the firstborns of a new “race” of DigitalHumans.
Lil Miquela and the Family of CGI Instagram Influencers
Her full name is Miquela Sousa aka @LilMiquela and she has a brother, Ronald Blawko, aka @blawko22.
Lil Miquela’s creators (or should we say parents?) have so far been pretty secretive about their intentions, why she was created (the real “reason why”), and what they do day-to-day at Brud. All we know for sure is that In April 2018 they raised ~$6 million in funding from Sequoia Capital.
In their own words:
Brud is an LA-based technology startup specializing in artificial intelligence and robotics. We’re a small team of artists, engineers, roboticists, and activists operating with the belief that technology can help bring about both a more empathetic world and a more tolerant future.”
Lil Miquela first appeared on the scene two years ago. Since then, she created 226 posts, her Instagram account has 1.3 million followers, and she follows 1.7K people.
She defends the racial rights and the LGTBIQ collective to the end.
Her spunky attitude and eerie looks have led this CGI Instagram influencer to be in high demand worldwide. She has partnered with leading brands like Prada and Diesel and has been featured in Vogue, GQ, and HYPEBEAST. People can’t seem to get enough of Lil Miquela’s otherworldly effect.
In 2018 TIME magazine named Lil Miquela one of the most influential people on the internet:
Lil Miquela has also created a musical genre, “glitchy, auto-tuned pop”.
Here’s how The Cut describes her:
According to various (vague) interviews she’s done, Lil Miquela is a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model and singer from Los Angeles, California, who goes by the name of Miquela Sousa. She created her Instagram account on April 22, 2016, and has since amassed more than one million followers. She’s also active on Twitter and Tumblr, plus she has two singles on Spotify.
She has a CGI Instagram influencer rival, Bermuda.
Named after the Bermuda Triangle, Bermuda was born on the Instagram about six months after Lil Miquela, on September 5, 2016. She has a paltry 88.5K followers.
Again from The Cut (where you can find the full story of the Instagram “war” and the following peace among the two!)
Bermuda’s muses are the singer Iggy Azalea and conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren. It’s no secret that Bermuda is also a hard-core Trump supporter, as she posted a photo of his merch as her ideal brunch look. Bermuda also mocks “liberal feminists” like Lena Dunham and writes that she’s “proud to be a white woman.”
What Can You Learn From Lil Miquela, Bermuda & Co.
Should marketers be afraid? Excited?
Personally, we are excited.
With 80% of influencers choosing Instagram as their preferred platform, you want to make sure you continue to stand out among the crowd, boost your engagement, and drive your campaign results — and CGI ideas can provide the extra edge you’re looking for.
There is a huge opportunity to take advantage of new CGI tools and other strategies that Lil Miquela and Bermuda employ to enhance your posts and hook viewers in similar ways.
Even if you don’t have the resources to create your own full-blown persona.
Let’s answer the main question:
Why is Lil Miquela Successful?
First of all, she is eerily real:
Lil Miquela’s (LM’s) pictures are moody selfies, pics with friends and family, reposts of current events, celebrities, and check-ins at events like Coachella.
Her captions are poignant, open, honest, and relatable:
More than that, her aesthetics are fascinating.
The Cut reminds us:
We humans have been tripping over the differences between real and fake ever since our forebears saw shadows on cave walls.”
There’s some speculation that she is based on a real-life woman, given her highly relatable features and expressions.
This blurred line between virtual and real is captivating Instagram users, helping LM build followers, spurring enormous engagement and cross-platform discussion, and generating millions from sponsors and other financial backers.
How can normal marketers compete?
Most of us don’t have the funds and AI expertise to craft such a multi-dimensional avatar. Should we just give up?
CGI Instagram Influencers Marketing: 3 Key Takeaways
Although Lil Miquela is constantly evolving and delivering new and exciting posts, below are three key takeaways for marketers.
1. Write open, honest captions.
Crafting a strong Instagram caption can be even more important than the central image or video. Within these lines (2,200 characters maximum, including emojis, along with 30 hashtags), you have the opportunity to unveil your brand’s personality, spur discussion, connect with other users, and link into global conversations.
One of the most important — and often underrated — aspects of a caption is its tone. Overshadowed by funky excitement 🤩 or 🐶 emojis, killer hashtags, and @mentions to friends and other businesses, the quality of an Instagram caption’s writing can often fall by the wayside.
With raw honesty and fluidity, Lil Miquela reminds us that these words have a unique power.
To channel her success in this realm:
- Don’t be afraid to bring up feelings and be vulnerable.
(Emotional marketing is proven to strike a chord and generate engagement among users on the platform.)
- Weave a longer narrative among several of your posts.
(Lil Miquela charts her travels, friendships, and feuds like a mini-series.)
- Segment longer blocks of text into shorter paragraphs.
(Even if you’re not writing a full-blown blog post, incorporating some UX tips to draw the reader’s attention down the page will help ensure they stay glued.)
Appreciating the art of writing and taking cues from Lil Miquela’s well-crafted, narrative captions will help you gain more interest and respect among your followers.
2. Be an Activist.
More than 59% of Instagram’s active users are Millennials — and Millennials are passionate about social causes.
(Gen Z feels similarly.)
Crafting posts that resonate with current social, environmental, or political movements — like the recent family separations at the U.S./Mexico border — can help you catch the attention of the largest segment of users on the platform.
Here, Lil Miquela takes the tactic of reposting Texas Congressman Castro’s statement about family separation, showing that she too is against it and joining the #FamiliesBelongTogether discussion.
Other brands have caught on to “Cause Marketing”.
In 2017 Walmart partnered with influencers to donate meals to people in need. For every like, share, or #FightHunger comment on one of their posts, they donated $0.90 to Feeding America.
Logan Paul was just one of seven influencers that Walmart tapped to spread its message (the others were lifestyle influencer Liza Koshy; YouTube cooking star Rosanna Pansino; pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler; actress Katherine Heigl; soccer player Sydney Leroux Dwyer; and singer, songwriter, and actor Jordan Fisher).
Working with influencers — whether CGI or actual humans — can give you the platform you need to have your message heard.
The campaign achieved a 23% engagement rate with more than 3 million likes and 200,000 comments.
According to the 2017 Millennial Impact Report, the demographic has strong personal connections to the following causes:
- Poverty and homelessness
- Education and literacy
- Children (mentoring and early education)
- Higher education (access to and payment for)
- Women’s health and reproductive issues
- Healthcare reform
- Environmental issues
- Mental health and social services
- Criminal justice reform
- Racial discrimination
- Social justice
As a marketer, you have a long list to choose from.
Consider researching social topics more deeply, understanding the latest news for a few of them that you, too, might empathize with — and crafting a creative strategy to hook your target audience and contribute to change.
3. Experiment With CGI Tools
The growing suite of options that small and big software companies are continually rolling out, are great complements to existing photo editing tools.
New apps are low-cost, professional solutions if you have a small ad budget and are aiming to clean up your images.
FaceApp, for example, can make you younger or older, add makeup, or even change genders!
If you can’t afford to hire multiple models — or go through several photo shoots if your first set of images didn’t come out as you expected — FaceApp is a free way to create many iterations of a single shot.
Selfie marketing has soared among businesses. No longer just for individuals — today, it’s become a common tactic to make posts more relatable and spur user-generated content.
Tarte Cosmetics, for example, launched an anti-bullying Instagram campaign #KissAndMakeUp, where participants uploaded selfies with a lipstick kiss on the back of their hand:
The campaign resulted in more than 277 million social and media impressions.
Whether you’re uploading your own or polishing the selfies of others, Meitu is a new free app that can help up your game.
(Photo credit: Mashable)
You can shift shades of lighting, change hair colors, lipstick and makeup tones, and even accessories to deliver a more professional appearance and stand out in your followers’ feeds.
Even if you don’t have the resources to create a full-blown persona like Lil Miquela, incorporating simple CGI features into your social media marketing can instill a sense of wonder and add the right amount of flair to distinguish you.
Now is the time to hop on board and test out these new tools to ride the latest CGI wave on Instagram before others catch up!
Wrapping It Up: Embrace Change
Adding new augmented reality apps to your editing toolkit will help you reduce costs and up your cool factor.
Being more deliberate with your captions can help you relate to younger audiences and gain respect and empathy from your followers.
Partnering with influencers for social change, if you have the means, can also be a powerful step towards building positive brand awareness.
You don’t need to have extreme technical chops or VC funding to add a new dimension to your Instagram advertising.
You simply need to observe and appreciate the latest trends and test out new features that are rolling out on a regular basis.