How Creators can Leverage AI Companions to Create Value

November 23 2023 . 3 min. read

In our inaugural thought piece, we asserted that it was vital for creators to leverage AI in their businesses or else they would face the existential threat of AI-generated influencers replacing them.

The venture capital firm A16Z wrote a seminal thought piece on the rise of AI companions. They stated “we believe we’re on the cusp of a significant societal shift: AI companions will soon become commonplace.” This thesis has already manifested itself. Character AI (“fake” characters) has had 20 million users sign up since launching in September 2022 and AI photo models like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion have produced over 15 billion AI-created images. Now that is a LOT of time (and attention) taken away from human influencers.

We strongly believe the next phase of AI companionship will be adaptations of real life people. And all creators will use an AI native toolkit to maximize value for their individual businesses. Based on our internal research at MyCompanions, we analyzed core creator objectives and the “AI-ication” potential for each of them. In summary, there are several immediate, low-friction value drivers that every creator should adopt, namely focused on increasing fan engagement and more targeted monetization. We present detailed examples and context for the top three creator objectives in the following commentary.

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More engagement with existing fan base.
  • Creators today are rarely on a single platform; at a minimum they will be on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, and then the list expands from there. It is impossible for creators of any meaningful size to have 1:1 conversations with fans. The closest will be a paywalled subscription or live stream but those are still not personalized; the creator knows very limited general information about the fan.
  • Using generative AI technology, influencers can make digital clones of themselves (including their voice) to have deep private conversations with their fans. With increasing context windows, the AI bot can know everything about the fan to offer a much more personalized experience. For example, many users of Maggie’s bot have very specific interests in wine, which the bot understands. The next time Maggie visits Napa, her bot can ask the user about their favorite wine to spur conversation.
  • The copilot approach that MyCompanions offers allows influencers to still preserve authenticity in his / her conversations. The AI bot can manage 90-95% of the conversation but per our experience the influencers still like to seamlessly come in and out to guide the conversation forward. This also helps us to train our models for all future fans.
Improve monetization of content.
  • Creators typically monetize content based on some mix of subscriptions, ads, tips, and brand partnerships. Twitter recently introduced subscriptions and also has an ad revenue share program with creators. Instagram creators focus more on brand deals, whereas YouTube pays a variable amount per view. Newer creator platforms like Patreon, Passes, allow tipping for photos / videos. We’ve anecdotally heard that tips represent an outsized tip driver to creator earnings; Patreon’s 2022 Creator Census showed that one-time tips was the highest value feature on the platform.
  • Generative AI has completely changed the game for tipping based monetization (whether it’s for photos, videos, differentiated text messages, etc.). It is no longer a one-size-fits-all rules-based approach. LLMs have the ability to capture conversational intent and recognize when to push users for a tip in an organic way. For example, in this video of our influencer Vivian’s bot, you can see when the user asks Vivian to show her beach outfit, the LLM recognizes the intent and sends a direct link to tip before the photo is automatically sent.
  • AI image generation has gotten good enough where influencers can upload a few of their photos and receive a near infinite number of outputs which are personalized based on a user’s interest. For example, our influencer Khee’s foodie friends may ask for photos of him with different dishes from his top restaurants.
  • Lastly, we applaud companies like Kajabi which have simplified the process for creators to make online courses to share their knowledge and expertise with fans. However, most of these courses are async and not very interactive for students. AI transforms this and allows creators to make fully dynamic voice (and soon video-based) courses personalized to each student. For example, aspiring bankers and consultants go through rigorous case and financial interviews - imagine McKinsey partners making a bot-based case interview that can reach an infinite number of students.
Identify and attract new fans.
  • Based our analysis of hundreds of messages in influencer Reddit groups, we find that influencers struggle to grow their audiences. In Patreon’s creator census, the top aspiration by far (90%) amongst creators was to grow their audience.
  • Posting content that resonates with “trendy” themes will often increase the viewership per the platform’s ranking algorithms, leading to greater following. LLMs can be used to summarize large amounts of “trending” content to write scripts for creators. At MyCompanions, we are analyzing many social feeds to automatically create our “role play” scenarios that users see when they start talking to a bot.
  • Alternatively, AI can be a personal assistant handling all inbound and outbound communication with other influencers for collaborations. Collabs help to grow mutual networks. AI can initiate and guide the negotiation and even schedule a joint live stream or photo shoot.

At MyCompanions, we just launched our influencer chat bots (initially Asian companions) in the past month to tackle the first two creator objectives in the above table and are already seeing thousands of users with strong intent for subscriptions and automated tipping. We believe the core tooling can be applicable to any creator, large or small, and please stay tuned for additional product launches.

We are fielding many questions from traditional creator agencies regarding AI’s impact on their own businesses (will it automate away agents?). MyCompanions is here to support traditional agencies to become more tech enabled to maximize value for their clients. And lastly, we are seeing next-gen creator economy companies like Passes, Patreon, Beacons.AI, Stan, and others start to tinker with AI features in their core products; we’d love to share our learnings as an AI-first creator company and help our creators together!