hether you’re a human, brand, dog, or virtual influencer, the verification check carries a universal stamp of platform approval. To don a blue checkmark signals trustworthiness, respect, or even achievement, depending on the context. Ultimately, when potential followers open someone’s profile for the first time, the presence of a check adds legitimacy to the creator.
I spoke with Becky Owen, Head of Creator Innovation & Solutions at Meta, to learn more about her perspective on virtual influencers using Instagram and getting verified while they do so. But first, let’s briefly explore Instagram's specific criteria on which they depend to determine who gets verified.
For starters, a candidate for verification’s profile must be public. Next, the individual’s profile must include a bio, profile photo, and be active when requesting verification.
Instagram performs research on every candidate and issues the coveted verified badge once it confirms that the individual is authentic, unique, notable, and has a complete profile.
Interestingly, in the official guidelines, Instagram makes a point to note they “don’t use the verified badge to endorse or recognize public figures or brands,” nor do they use it “to show importance, authority, or subject matter expertise.” Onward.
Especially notable, when stating a verifiable account must be “authentic,” they expand to say it must “represent a real person, registered business or entity.“
Keyword here? Entity.
I asked Becky Owen what she thinks about virtual influencers to deepen my understanding of how she perceives these characters on the platform. “Virtual influencers are a fast-rising phenomenon. What has previously felt like a fringe medium of expression has suddenly become central to our digital experiences. And as we head towards the metaverse—it is only set to grow,” Becky told me.
From our research with HypeAuditor, these computer-generated characters, on average, garner engagement rates up to three times higher than human influencers on Instagram. Virtual influencers have high “glance value” compared to humans, meaning they are easily distinguished from humans when scrolling in a standard social feed and, in turn, are more likely to draw you in.
“If we look at their expression on Meta’s platforms, we see that they are unique in how they connect to audiences. They blend the story and fantasy of fiction with the engagement we typically see generated by human influencers,” says Becky.
“They even drive their own form of influence, evidenced by the sentiment of their profile comments and the influx of repeat brand partnerships. This mash-up appears to be creating a new type of engagement model that we are only just beginning to unpick.”
It’s true—this nascent phenomenon has yet to be fully defined, let alone understood by fans and platforms, such as Meta, alike. It’s a very positive signal that both fans and platforms are embracing new forms of engagement on social media, as it indicates creators have a chance to differentiate and reach people in our increasingly saturated social media landscape.
Through virtual influencers, creators can fluidly redefine themselves and more easily connect with a fanbase of interest than they could as a human being. They have more control over their appearance, how they present said appearance, and how confident they are. As a human, not everyone necessarily shares that luxury. As a virtual, though, they do.
Influencers already create versions of themselves on social media they hope fans will resonate with, leveraging luxuries such as fashion, makeup, possessions, and more. The opportunity of virtual influencers represents freedom for creators to craft an appearance and achieve connection without needing to alter their human selves or financial situations drastically. A virtual becomes a vessel for expression insulated from constraints typical of human social media.
Meta’s interest in virtual influencers shows excellent potential for the future of the platforms.
“At Meta, we are exploring what this new chapter of influencer marketing could eventually evolve into—both the good and bad—to help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium. I’m fascinated by it, and I can’t wait to see what’s next,” Becky tells me.
Thank you, Becky.
Now, here’s a look at some of the most popular virtual influencers Meta has verified on Instagram. Thank you to Alicia Norman for her support in writing short introductions for each of these virtual beings:
1. Lu of Magazine Luiza (@magazineluiza)
Instagram Followers: 5.8m
Lu is one of the most popular virtual influencers in the world and the brand spokesperson for the Brazilian retail conglomerate Magazine Luiza. Similar to the GEICO Gecko, Lu is a brand representative who shows off the latest technology available to consumers on her social media.
2. Miquela Sousa (@lilmiquela)
Instagram followers: 3.1m
Miquela Sousa, aka, Lil Miquela, emerged on Instagram in 2016. Her adorable gap-toothed smile instantly endeared her to legions of fans dubbed Miqaliens. The trendsetter and musician hails from Downey, California.
3. Casas Bahias (@casabahia)
Instagram Followers: 3m
The adorable Casas Bahias or Bahianinho, is perhaps one of Brazil's most recognized social media influencers. Passionate about youth culture, environmental issues and gaming, the teen’s infectiously fun personality infuses every product he promotes.
4. Nobody Sausage (@nobodysausage)
Instagram Followers: 2.7m
Nobody Sausage is well, an animated sausage with millions of fans. They love to watch this simple character perform fun dances in wild virtual fashion and colorful wigs. He also uploads short animated skits featuring himself.
5. Good Advice Cupcake (@thegoodadvicecupcake)
Instagram Followers: 2.4m
The 2D animated Good Advice Cupcake is an official character created by Buzzfeed. Don't be fooled by her sweet looks, this Cupcake isn’t afraid to swear or hold back anything from her millennial followers who relate to her stories about everyday frustrations.
6. Guggimon (@guggimon)
Instagram Followers: 1.4m
Guggimon is a rambunctious rabbit created by the vinyl-toy company Superplastic. He starred as a playable character in Fortnite and has collaborated with major brands like Gucci. Fans love him for the insane pranks he pulls on his fellow Superpastic star, Janky.
7. Janky (@janky)
Instagram Followers: 975k
Janky is a virtual cat who is Guggimon’s best friend and a member of the Superplastic family of virtual influencers. He’s never afraid of putting himself in danger to pull off the perfect punchline for a joke.
8. Minnie Mouse (@minniemouse)
Instagram Followers: 715k
Minnie Mouse may be one of the most famous animated characters from Disney, but on social media she’s just like everyone else. She shares outfit-of-the-day photos, her favorite playlists, and memories with her friends. Disney made an iconic character more accessible and relatable to all simply by creating an Instagram account for her.
9. Knox Frost (@knoxfrost)
Instagram Followers: 668k
Knox Frost's mission is to integrate into a world that insists he’s not real. The computer-generated influencer partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and helped promote the civic-minded Rock the Vote. Frost has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Mashable, and other noteworthy publications.
10. Daisy Yoox (@Yoox)
Instagram followers: 624k
Daisy was born to help YOOX shoppers personalize their online consumer experience. Available for both men and women, and with the help of YOOX MIRROR, she has found continual success in the realm of fashion.
11. Any Malu (@anymalu_real)
Instagram Followers: 514k
Three million souls follow Any Malu, a girlish 2D virtual human with bubble gum pink hair and cheerfully passive-aggressive ‘tude that has made her Cartoon-Network famous. The Brazilian virtual influencer tries to balance work with making an actual difference in the world.
12. Seraphine Song (@seradotwav)
Instagram Followers: 423k
Stylized cutie Seraphine is a self-acknowledged empath who channels her emotional energy into producing, writing and singing. Born in the fictional country of Piltover from League of Legends, the magical muse hopes to unite the world with her music.
13. Noonoouri (@Noonoouri)
Instagram Followers: 386k
Plucky vegan activist Noonoouri uses her considerable influence as a fashion icon to promote green living. The Munich model refuses to wear furs and hopes to see more people adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle.
14. Qai Qai (@realqaiqai)
Instagram Followers: 346k
Qai Qai is the doll belonging to Serena Williams’s daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian brought to life. She spends her days in Alexis’s room, fighting for her attention against the family dog and sharing covers of popular TikTok videos.
15. Imma (@imma.gram)
Instagram followers: 356k
Tokyo-based star Imma debuted as an international fashion model in 2018. Since her emergence, Imma has graced the 2020 Paralympics and the cover of CGWorld magazine.
16. Bermuda (@Bermudaisbae)
Instagram followers: 278k
Bermuda is an aspiring musician and rising fashion icon. The LA it-girl caused a bit of drama by being a Trump supporter but has since changed her stance. The past behind her, Bermuda hopes to reignite her fashion career and regain lost friendships with fellow influencers Miquela and Blawko.
17. Kizuna AI (@aichannel_official)
Instagram Followers: 238k
Kizuna AI is the world’s first VTuber or “Virtual Youtuber” who debuted in 2016. She’s an animated character who live streams and uploads videos for her millions of fans on YouTube.
18. Shudu Gram (@shudu.gram)
Instagram Followers: 219k
South African supermodel Shudu Gram graced fashion covers like Vogue and Cosmopolitan not long after her inception in 2017. Shudu is a strong, vocal advocate for virtual humanity, taking her time away from location shooting to spread awareness about the needs of the growing virtual influencer community.
19. Ryan (@ryon.seoul.icon)
Instagram Followers: 217k
Ryan is one of several mascots for the popular Korean messaging app, Kakao Friends. Fans can use stickers featuring Ryan in messages to each other or follow him and the gang on social media where they share their lives.
20. FN Meka (@fnmeka)
Instagram Followers: 186k
Talented Rapper FNMeka, with his hyper beast style and tattoos, spits like no other cyborg in the Metaverse. Sporting green hair and golden hands, the lyrical poet paired with G FUEL, the official drink of Esports, to bring more awareness to the brand.
21. Ronald F. Blawko (@blawko22)
Instagram Followers: 145k
Commonly known by just his last name, Ronald F. Blawko first appeared in 2017. With his urban, bad boy vibe, the self-professed lowlife enjoys venting on Youtube and hanging with the beautiful Miquela.
22. Rozy Oh (@rozy.gram)
Instagram Followers: 123k
Rozy Oh is a popular virtual influencer and model from South Korea. She’s known for her expressive face and stylish fashion sense. Recently, she expanded into music and is releasing her debut album soon.
23. Mar.ia (@soymar.ia)
Instagram followers: 105k
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Mar.ia is a virtual influencer with a ton of heart. Since her inception in 2020, she has pursued social justice while promoting plant-based health, gender equality and environmental causes.
24. Teflon Sega (@teflonsega)
Instagram Followers: 101k
Teflon Sega is more than an independent music producer with dozens of hit songs on Soundcloud. He’s also a virtual being who is on a mission to “defend the metaverse” from invaders and is inviting his fans to join him.
25. CodeMiko (@codemiko)
Instagram Followers: 86.1k
Emerging from a failed video game, CodeMiko has not allowed the failure of others to define her. She now streams alongside her maker on Twitch, where she has become a stylish avatar.
26. Yameii Online (@yameiionline)
Instagram Followers: 68.3k
Yameii is a virtual musician whose music production is handled by Oseans World. She’s powered by vocaloid software with a unique sound and storyline that draws in fans from around the world.
27. Squeaky and Roy (@aichannel_official)
Instagram Followers: 63.3k
Squeaky and Roy are long-lost stuffed animals belonging to TikTok’s most famous family, the D’Amelio’s. Their owners, Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio, may be some of the most followed people on TikTok, but that doesn't stop Squeaky and Roy from trying to imitate their videos for their own TikTok audience.
28. Ion Göttlich (@iongottlich)
Instagram Followers: 54k
Ion Göttlich is a pro cyclist who enjoys talking about and sharing his love for riding. His past time includes traveling, training and indulging in a tasty cup of joe.
29. Zinn (@plusticboy)
Instagram Followers: 53.5k
Undoubtedly one of the more popular virtual human male models in the metaverse, Imma’s brother Zinn has created a style and voice all his own. He has appeared on the cover of Uniform magazine and was featured on Rakuten Fashion Week 2020 in Tokyo.
30. APOKI (@iamapoki)
Instagram Followers: 53.1k
APOKI is a South Korean virtual influencer with large bunny ears and two adorable backup dancers. She covers popular music and dances while also releasing her own original songs.
31. Chill Pill (@iamchillpill)
Instagram Followers: 52.3k
Chill Pill is a music producer and DJ whose sounds are as relaxed as his name implies. He enjoys making beats, trying on new virtual streetwear fashion, and eating sushi.
32. GEICO Gecko (@thegeicogecko)
Instagram Followers: 28k
The GEICO Gecko is a virtual brand spokesperson for GEICO insurance who has appeared in their commercials for over 10 years. He’s the most recognizable lizard who loves to help save you money on insurance.
33. Hatsune Miku (@hatsune_miku_official)
Instagram Followers: 18.6k
First released in 2007, world-famous actress, singer, and social media influencer Hatsune Miku is also a popular Vocaloid. Hatsune has performed live and transformed through various incarnations of light, dark, and sweet. But she has never lost the love of her extremely loyal fanbase.
34. AI Ailynn (@ai_ailynn)
Instagram Followers: 11.5k
This virtual human was born September 24, 2021, in Bangkok, Thailand. Albeit new to the scene, AI-Ailynn has hit the ground running and promises to become one of the foremost virtual brand ambassadors in the realm of education, fashion, lifestyle and high tech.
35. Ilona (@ilona)
Instagram Followers: 8k
Ilona is a French virtual influencer who creates content targeted towards young children. Her Youtube channel has over 50k subscribers and features sing-along song versions of Ilona’s own original music.