Social media has historically been a young person’s game, flooded with 20 somethings boasting millions of followers and scooping up massive collaborations. Recently however we’ve seen a new wave of influencers who are paving their own way on social media, who are they? Granfluencers.
This new wave of influencers consists of web-savvy seniors who are pulling in hundreds, thousands, and even millions of followers. Not to mention a lot of cash and big brand deals. Below we will take a deeper look at who these influencers are, why they are so successful, what brands they are working with and if this is a good influencer strategy for YOUR brand.
What is a granfluencer?
We’ve all become accustomed to the influencer world. We’ve watched the digitally native generations build massive followings and personal brands on social media. But the landscape is starting to see a new type of influencer pop up… the granfluencer, and we’re here for it. While there is no specific criteria that constitutes an official granfluencer, these seriously cool senior citizens are just like any other influencer except with much better captions. Over the past few years we’ve seen these influencers pop-up in more paid partnerships and sponsored posts with some of the biggest brands in the world (think Amazon big).
Like typical influencers, granfluencers cover a wide range of topics, often dominate a specific niche, participate in paid campaigns, and share their lives openly on the internet to thousands, even millions of followers. Most importantly though this new wave of influencers are breaking the stereotype of what a successful influencer can be, and making a lot of money in the meantime.
What’s the draw?
This year we’ve seen a shift in the types of content that people are looking to consume. We’re moving away from heavily planned, staged, and edited content to much more authentic content. This is a huge reason that granfluencers are becoming so popular. Audiences are looking for content that lifts up new voices, shares new perspectives, and overall makes them feel good inside.
Like traditional influencers, granfluencers have close relationships with their followers and their followers have formed trusting relationships with them and interest in their daily lives. By proving that there is so much to life despite one’s age, these influencers encourage their audiences to celebrate their differences and live freely without fear of judgement. This positive outlook and shift in perspective on life is one of, if not the main reason that makes these influencers so successful at what they do. Brands who have jumped in and started to use granfluencers in their marketing strategies are adding elements of wisdom, reality, and life experience to their brand image.
Who are some of the biggest granfluencers?
There are without a doubt some BIG names in the granfluencer world, and it would be a disservice to all of you not to share a few of our favorites:
92-year-old Helen Ruth Elam is the OG granfluencer, she first made a splash on the internet at the age of 85 and has around 3.5M followers on Instagram. This glamorous grandma is always making a fashion statement that gives the younger generation a run for their money. Helen proves without a doubt that age is just a number.
Lyn Slater is a 67-year-old associate law professor at New York’s Fordham University. With nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram she found fame accidentally when she was mistaken for a fashionista by photographers at a fashion event. Lyn’s goal with her platform is to show that aging gracefully is possible.
Refusing to let the ladies steal the show 59-year-old educator Irvin Randle is making a name for himself as Mr. Steal Your Grandma. You can catch Irvin sharing his favorite outfits with his nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram.
Who is working with granfluencers?
Now that we have a better idea of who exactly these influencers are and why they are so successful, let’s take a look at some examples of the brands they are working with.
One of the most prominent examples of the successful use of granfluencers comes from Aura Frames, a digital picture frame tech company. It’s not everyday you see a tech company jump at the opportunity to collaborate with the elderly, but due to purchasing behavior that shifted during 2020 the brand saw an opportunity to reach a new audience. They noticed that the over 50 demographic had extreme spending power and was wildly underrepresented in the social media world. Last year, the brands most successful influencer campaign wasn’t with a young 20-something, it was with @travelingblackwidow a 65-year-old retired guidance counselor. Not only was her post Aura Frames best performing ad of the year but it brought it five times more conversions and six times more engagement than any ad creative or influencer ad previously had for them.
Another brand that has leaned into the use of granfluencers is Fashion Nova. It’s no secret that the older generation wants to be fashionable as well, and the clothing brand recognized this sooner than most, working with 90-year-old Helen Van Winkle as early as 2018. Now, women aren’t the only ones getting a piece of the pie, most recently Fashion Nova partnered with Irvin Randle, a 59-year-old educator to promote their menswear line. His most recent post for the brand raked in 22,245 likes.
This past holiday season Amazon Devices launched a campaign featuring granfluencers. The holiday season can be a difficult time for the elderly as some of them are homebound and unable to reunite with their families during this time. This past year however the Covid-19 pandemic made that a problem that most elderly people faced. To show how their Amazon Echo Show would allow families to have impromptu drop-visits even from afar. The initial kickoff video featured none other than actor Pete Davidson and his Poppy. An Amazon spokesperson said, “the goal of the campaign is to show different ways families can stay connected virtually this year and keep their holiday traditions alive,” adding that “grandparents are the centerpiece of the holidays. They bring families together with their stories, their unconditional affection, and their traditions.” The campaign also included Baddie Winkle, Nancy Fuller, Lili Droniak and Granny Coy.
Is this a good strategy?
It’s easy to think that the older generations aren’t open to learning how to use social media or what the latest trends are, but that’s not the case. Seniors are becoming more tech-savvy, making their presence known on social media apps, and even building personal brands the way that traditional influencers do. All of this makes them fantastic brand partners for brands.
Brands often overlook this older generation when it comes to marketing efforts and spend. But, baby boomers control around 70% of all disposable income in the United States and spend nearing 15 hours online every week, believing that social media is improving their lives. This generation is not only spending more and more time scrolling through social media but they are spending more money online than the younger generations, coming in at around $7 billion a year.
Even with all of this information out there most marketers only allocate 10% of their budgets to marketing to this generation and instead allocate around 50% to millennials. Influencer marketing grows exponentially as an industry year over year and as this trend continues more baby boomers and older members of society will join social media, sharing their lives and interests and interacting with others as they go. It is going to be important for brands to include granfluencers in their marketing to accurately represent those who have the purchasing power. The brands that are open to marketing to this demographic will help open new doors, break long-standing stigmas, and welcome a demographic that has been underrepresented in the past.