Research Stories

AI Influencer VS Human Influencer

Professor Hwang Se-rim of Sungkyunkwan University’s SKK GSB reveals the effectiveness of AI influencers

SKK GSB
Prof. Hwang Se-rim

  • AI Influencer VS Human Influencer
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Professor Hwang Se-rim's paper, which reveals the effectiveness of AI influencers, has been published in the May-June issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), a prestigious business journal.


Professor Hwang, along with Assistant Professor Shunyuan Zhang of Harvard University, Associate Professor Xiao Liu of New York University, and Professor Kannan Srinivasan of Carnegie Mellon University, analyzed over a million pieces of content over six years.


Influencer marketing has been actively used due to its high marketing effect, but there have also been cases of backfires, and recently, there has been an increase in cases of brand marketing using AI influencers.

The paper compared the effectiveness of human influencers and AI influencers in five aspects: engagement, reach, diversity, reputational risk, and cost. The study found that AI influencers were able to generate more engagement from people than human influencers. In particular, AI influencers were less likely to be exposed to scandals or bad reputations than human influencers, and they also cost less. This means that choosing AI influencers can be more cost-effective and also ensure high engagement from people.


According to one survey, 52% of social media users in the United States already follow AI influencers, and this percentage is even higher worldwide. Among various industries, the fashion and beauty industries were more receptive to paid advertising posts by AI influencers, while people showed more resistance to paid advertising posts by human influencers.


As the time spent consuming traditional media such as TV decreases, influencer marketing is expected to become even more important for brands. This study has proven that AI influencers have clear advantages over traditional human influencers. This means that brands should positively consider adopting AI influencers when introducing social media marketing.


Paper: Harvard Business Review May–June 2024

Title: Should Your Brand Hire a Virtual Influencer?
DOI: https://hbr.org/2024/05/should-your-brand-hire-a-virtual-influencer

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