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A new breed of A.I. has arrived – By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy – MI&C
When a brand hires an influencer, what goes into the decision? An impressive follower base in the right demographic? Strong engagement and an authentic voice? Cross-over appeal with a top ten hit on Spotify? What if an influencer had all of the above – but just wasn’t… human?
Meet Miquela, or @lilmiquela as she’s known on Instagram where she’s got a fan base 740k strong. What makes her stand out, besides her top ten hit on Spotify? Miquela is a computer animation. Looking closer you can see it. Overly-smoothed skin, eyes slightly askew and alien-esque.
Despite her lack of flesh and blood, she is just as active on social media as her real world peers, complete with a passion for brands like Chanel, Vans, Supreme and Proenza Schouler. The person behind Miquela however is quite real. She’s a 19 year old LA model, half Brazilian, half Spanish to be specific.
She’s inspired by contemporary artists like Carly Mark, Martine Syms and Kerry James. “In fashion, I look to Isamaya Ffrench, Raf Simons, Sies Marjan and Alexandre Vauthier. I also love Reese Blutstein,” Miquela said in a recent (chat-based) interview with Business of Fashion.
While all-too-real non-disclosure agreements prevent her from saying which brands she’s working with, in true influencer fashion she teases a hint, “I can tell you that I’ve been shot in Chanel, Moschino, Burberry, Versace and Fendi,” she said.
Although her actual name is unknown, @lilmiquela’s identity is everywhere. Vogue, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, and other publications are increasingly covering her. Real earned media, every bit of it.
In an recent Interview Magazine piece the artist behind the avatar said, “It’s an interesting time for reality, it’s being redefined by technology every day— fake news, fake body standards. Authenticity is a rare thing right now.” Miquela added another first to her list this week, she’s the only fictional it girl to ever team up with Prada.
According to Vogue, the luxury brand sees @lilmiquela as the perfect fit for the launch of their Instagram GIFs “featuring logos and prints from the Fall 2018 collection, including some, like the Spring 2010 flame shoe or Spring 2011 bananas, that nod to the Prada archive.”
One question remains. If the reach, authentic voice, and high engagement an influencer delivers are real, does it matter if the influencer isn’t?
Why Facebook still matters in the age of engagement, By Anthony Cospito, head of strategy - MI&C
Given the digital dystopia surrounding recent media coverage of Facebook, you might think the world’s largest social network was on the way to the MySpace pile – sorry Tom, not so. Considering 2 billion people use Facebook every month, talk of the platform’s demise seems a bit premature.
While it’s true that reach of organic content on Facebook has been shrinking faster than Trump’s approval rating, most brands have been shifting their organic efforts to platforms like Instagram for quite some time.
Paid reach on Facebook remains highly targeted and extremely effective, that doesn’t mean organic is dead – maybe just our definition of it.
In the days long before fake news, Facebook rose to prominence as “a social utility that helps people communicate with their friends and family” and that is where it aims to return. Is there a place for brands? Yes. Do they have to work a bit harder to ascribe some value? Yes. Is it worth the hassle? Absolutely. Just ask the billion plus monthly users of Facebook groups.
What Facebook Pages are to brand messaging, Facebook groups are to engagement. As the singular metric driving the algorithm for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, engagement is the new holy grail and it’s all about conversations, ideas, and participation. Engagement in groups is rewarded by the updated algorithm, resulting in higher organic reach and visibility – more reasons for brands to consider the strategy.
While publishers like the New York Times, BuzzFeed and the “Today” show have launched special interest groups, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to connect with their most active customers in a more intimate way. Startups like Peleton are leading the pack.
The Official Peleton rider group of +71k members linked to its page with 334,000 fans is going strong. They use the group to engage customers in conversations, listen to their ideas, and empathize with any challenges.
This level of human to human engagement deepens customer relationships – something quantitatively proven to drive revenue and market growth.
Understandably some brands are wary about diving too deep into Facebook groups for fear of changing algorithms or further attempts at monetization. In the meantime though, the learnings and deeper customer relationships they can build deliver a solid ROI and inspire innovation.
Beyond customer insights, groups are ideal for behind the scenes content and combined with Facebook Live – can be the perfect platform for influencers to do what they do best – engage, inform and entertain. These sessions inspire conversations – driving visibility and informing content strategy as influencers strengthen their role as brand proxies across social.
So before you do an about-Facebook, consider the role groups can play in the mix. It might be time to rethink how your brand uses the platform and switch out a slow moving organic content strategy for something a bit more dynamic.