Move over, Gen Z! ‘Granfluencers’ in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s are earning millions of followers on Instagram – and making bank on sponsorship deals
Social media may have started as a young person’s game, but some of the hottest influencers on Instagram aren’t Gen Z or millennials at all — they’re grandmothers. Popular ‘granfluencers’ are taking over the platform, earning followers in the hundreds of thousands — and in some cases, millions — with enough popularity to rack up brand partnerships and sponsored posts. These granfluencers aren’t your stereotypical grannies, though: They’re not knitting or shuffling around in house slippers, but rather dressing up in fabulous designer outfits, traveling the world, and just generally showing younger audiences how to live their best lives.
Baddie Winkle, 92: 3.5 million followers: One of the most popular granfluencers is Helen Ruth Elam, who goes by Baddie Winkle on Instagram — where her tagline is ‘been stealing ur man since 1928.’
The 92-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee resident didn’t earn fame until her 80s, but her follower count on the app is now up to 3.5 million.
Baddie clearly doesn’t subscribe to any maxims about dressing one’s age, and is known for her bright, colorful, trendy outfits.
Her fabulous style and fun personality have earned her plenty of fans, which have equaled lucrative partnerships.
Past sponsorships have included Amazon Echo Show 8, Svedka vodka, LG, Canada Dry, Aussie Hair, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, Jack in the Box, Fashion Nova, Lisa Frank, INC.redible Cosmetics, and more. And according to the Daily Front Row, she can earn up to $9,815 per sponsored post.
Accidental Icon, 67: 749,000 followers: Accidental Icon Lyn Slater’s 749,000 Instagram followers fawn over her style — and her smarts. A masters in criminal justice and PhD in social welfare, the 67-year-old shows her fans that age is just a number.
‘I’m not 20. I don’t want to be 20, but I’m really freaking cool. That’s what I think about when I’m posting a photo,’ she told the New York Times .
Though she works as a professor, she earned style cred eight years ago when photographers assumed she was a fashionista heading to New York Fashion Week. Now, her sponsored posts can reportedly bring in $2,984 each.
She’s also been a model for fans to look up to for aging gracefully. ‘I went through a process about how I was experiencing myself internally and things that were happening to my body,’ she told AARP’s Disrupt Aging. ‘I didn’t like it at first. At some point I had to accept the fact that aging is inevitable. There is nothing you can do to control it, so try to be the best you can be.’
‘I think that as women get older, there is a difference in the kind of attention that you may receive. So I started paying more attention to the kinds of clothes I was wearing,’ Lyn said. ‘I am in my 60s, and I am the most visible I have ever been in my entire life. It’s time for a new outlook on what it means to be an older woman.’
Sarah-Jane Adams, 65: 194,000 followers – UK-born Sarah-Jane Adams, 65, has two popular accounts on Instagram: The first, @saramaijewels, has earned 194,000 followers to date, while the second, @mywrinklesaremystripes , has 32,000 followers.
Sarah-Jane’s incredible style has meant big business, including her own jewelry line and a book, as well as a contract with IMG models. ‘I don’t feel as if I’m trying to play the old card,’ she said. ‘I was a punk, and before that I was a hippie. Now I’ve merged the two cultures. I’m part of the Germaine Greer generation. But in the world of social media, I’m simply lumped with all the over-60s.’
Age has hardly gotten in the way of her social media fame, though. Sponsored Instagram posts can rake in big bucks for this Australia-based granfluencer, who lists herself as an ambassador for the Aussie brand Priceline in her bio.
Another perk of being Instagram famous is the freebies, and Sarah certainly racks up plenty of gifts — and gamely shows off her favorites on the account. In the past, she’s promoted a flower company, accessories brands, and even Mercedes-Benz.
Grece Ghanem, 56: 529,000 followers – On the younger side of of granfluencers, Montreal-based Grece Granem, 56, has 529,000 Instagram followers and doesn’t believe into fading into the background as she gets older.
‘Stay visible! Once women pass a certain age, they don’t get looked at anymore,’ she told Vogue . ‘I don’t take that into account. I still wear things in a fun way. I don’t have to disappear.’
Grece has won fans for her incredible style and story: She moved with her adult daughter to Canada from her home country of Lebanon, where she’d been a microbiologist with a huge collection of designer clothes. Starting over in Canada, she became a personal trainer and had to build up her wardrobe again from scratch.
These days, she sometimes gets a bit of help doing that from sponsorships, which in the past have included the jewelry brand We Are Missoma, e-commerce site Farfetch, and accessories brand Aspinal of London.
Charlotte Simpson, 65: 14,000 followers: Not all the influencers are fashionistas with closets packed with designer clothes. Charlotte Simpson, a 65-year-old retired guidance counselor, documents her travels on Instagram for her 14,000 followers.
Over the past several years, the Indiana resident has been to the various islands in the Caribbean, as well as Japan, Iceland, Germany, Albania, Ecuador, Canada, Morocco, France, and Guatemala.
And some brands have noticed that women like her can help drive sales more than their younger counterparts.
According to PR Daily , Aura Frames’ most successful influencer partnership last year was not with a 20-something, but with Charlotte, whose ad had six times as much engagement as any other.
Char posted two ads with the digital picture frame that did big business for the company. She’s also done partnerships with hotels, including follower giveaways.
Joan MacDonald, 74: 1.1 million followers: Joan McDonald, 74, has 1.1. million followers on her Train With Joan Instagram account, where she shares her workouts, meals, and active lifestyle.
Joan’s another example of how it’s never too late to start something new: According to Glamour, she didn’t even start exercising at a gym until a few years ago.
‘[When I was younger] married women didn’t belong to gyms, they just didn’t, until later on,’ she said. Now she’s a gym rat and a social media pro, and has promoted clothing brands, workout gear, and supplements on her page.
‘Older women have a lot to offer,’ she said. ‘There are a lot of older women out here older than I am that are really strong, amazing people. Older women have a voice and we need to be listened to.
‘People think, Oh Grandma, what does she know? But you’d be amazed at what Grandma can do.’
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