What Drives Virtual Influencer's Impact?

47 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2023

See all articles by Giovanni Luca Cascio Rizzo

Giovanni Luca Cascio Rizzo

LUISS Guido Carli University

Jonah A. Berger

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Francisco Villarroel Ordenes

LUISS Guido Carli University

Date Written: January 19, 2023

Abstract

In the midst of the influencer marketing boom, more and more companies are shifting resources from real to virtual (or computer-generated) influencers. But while virtual influencers have the potential to engage consumers and drive action, some posts resonate and boost sales, while others do not. What makes some virtual influencer posts more impactful? This work examines how including someone else in photos shapes consumer responses to virtual influencers’ posts. A multimethod investigation, combining automated image and text analysis of thousands of social media posts with controlled experiments, demonstrates that companion presence boosts impact. These effects are driven by trust. Companion presence makes virtual influencers seem more human, which makes them seem more trustworthy, and thus increases the impact of their posts. Taken together, the findings shed light on how others’ presence shapes responses to virtual influencer content, reveal a psychological mechanism through which companions affect consumer perceptions, and provide actionable insights for designing more impactful social media content.

Keywords: virtual influencers, automated image analysis, automated text analysis, engagement, trust, anthropomorphism

Suggested Citation

Cascio Rizzo, Giovanni Luca and Berger, Jonah A. and Villarroel Ordenes, Francisco, What Drives Virtual Influencer's Impact? (January 19, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4329150 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4329150

Giovanni Luca Cascio Rizzo (Contact Author)

LUISS Guido Carli University ( email )

Viale Romania 32
Rome, Roma 00197
Italy

Jonah A. Berger

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Francisco Villarroel Ordenes

LUISS Guido Carli University ( email )

Viale Pola 12
Rome, 00198
Italy

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