What Drives Virtual Influencer's Impact?
47 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2023
Date Written: January 19, 2023
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: Suggested Citation