The appeal of Lil Miquela and the impact of virtual influencers on digital strategic communication

Presented by: Dr Elena Block

Date: Friday 22 October 2021
Time: 12–1pm
Location: Online via Zoom 


This presentation continues my exploration on whether and how virtual fashion influencers are jamming digital strategic communication, advocacy, and influencer practices. It expands on my existing research, developed together with industry collaborator Rob Lovegrove, presented at ICA2020, and published by Public Relations Inquiry in June 2021. We examined a computer-generated imagery (CGI) character called Lil Miquela that has 3 million followers on Instagram and 3.3 million followers on TikTok. I am particularly interested in how #BlackLivesMatter advocate Miquela (and her creators) build the communication strategies they use and the elements that make ‘her’ so appealing to postmillennial audiences, luxury and indie brands, and civil rights activists alike. ‘Her’ discordant human/nonhuman ethos simultaneously allures, intrigues, and defies. I use the Freudian concept of ‘the uncanny’ to study what make her texts, which are currently more focused on telling the story of ‘her’ life, so compelling to some audiences and so important to her creators and minders. My expanded research on this topic aims to make a contribution to studies on the use of CGI and AI characters in digital strategic communication environments.


Elena Block is a Lecturer in Strategic Communication at The University of Queensland’s School of Communication and Arts. She has a PhD in Political Communication from The University of Queensland and MSc in Political Sociology from the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE). She is a Former assistant professor in Political Communication at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) and has a long trajectory as a journalist, media relations and public affairs executive in Venezuela. Her main areas of interest: political communication; strategic communication; populist communication; the mediatisation of politics and society; virtual and teen influencers and their role and impact on strategic communication and advocacy.


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 11 March

Online via Zoom

Research Seminar - Tuning In with the Stethoscope in the Nineteenth CenturyDr Melissa Dickson (University of Birmingham)

Friday, 25 March


Early Adventures in Australian Actor Training

Dr Chris Hay

Friday, 8 April

Online via Zoom

Invention and reinvention in the landscape symbolism of Joachim PatinirMichael Levy

Friday, 29 April

Online via Zoom

Negotiating balance of cultures among Chinese Australians to facilitate ageing well

A/Prof Shuang Liu

Friday, 13 May


Redefining crisis in museums: insider’s perspectives on digital engagement

Dr Caroline Wilson-Barnao, Craig Middleton (National Museum of Australia), and Lisa Enright

Friday, 3 June

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

A journey through the Australian environmental movement ecosystem

Dr Robyn Gulliver

Friday, 10 June

Online via Zoom

TBADr Alex Bevan