11/30/2021 | By Kari Smith

If you think the ever-expanding world of social media is just for young people, you are in for a surprise! Many of today’s young’uns could actually take a page or two out of the book of influencers a couple generations their senior. That’s right … online feeds are also being dominated by “grandfluencers” – senior social media influencers over the age of 70.

A 70-year-old fitness influencer

Joan MacDonald of Training with Joan on Instagram poses in her weight room.

Take classy fitness influencer Joan MacDonald, for instance. In January 2017, she was 70 years old, 5 feet 3 inches tall, and nearly 200 pounds. She suffered from heart problems, acid reflux, vertigo, arthritis, and more. Technology enabled Joan, who lived in Mexico, to train daily with her daughter (who is her fitness coach) in Canada. Ten months later, she began posting pictures of her transformation. Her posts include photos of an impressive physique that is enviable by women of any age along with tips to promote healthy living. Today, she has an impressive 1.5 million followers on her Instagram page, a partnership with Women’s Best fitness brand, and features in multiple magazines and websites, including Fox News, NY Post, and Shape Magazine.

A hilarious 93-year-old among senior social media influencers

Helen "Baddie Winkle" Elam poses on her Instagram page.

Then, you have 93-year-old Helen “Baddie Winkle” Elam, a saucy Insta-granny with the cheeky tagline “stealing yo man since 1928.” The irreverent Queen Baddie herself made her first social media post in her 80s, with her great-granddaughter’s help and wearing her clothes – a tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirt and cutoff jean shorts. Her unfiltered posts and hilarious captions have made her quite the sensation – with over 3.4 million followers on Instagram and her own Wikipedia page. A quick scroll through her colorful Insta will reveal partnerships with Tillamook Ice Cream, Svedka Vodka, LG USA, Aussie Hair, Jack in the Box, and so many more. Baddie is makin’ bank!

The grandma-next-door online

Lagetta Wayne, @msgrandmasgarden on Instagram

On the flip side (and proving that shock value is not a prerequisite for senior social media influencers’ success) is @msgrandmasgarden – better known as 78-year-old Lagetta Wayne. She is an absolutely precious grandma-next-door, whose tagline “Hi, welcome to my garden. Come on in!” makes you feel like one of the grandkids or her lifelong best friend. Whether she is sharing a recipe for fried green tomatoes or showing you her bok choi harvest, Grandma is serving up wholesome goodness, one TikTok video at a time. And her classiness is being noticed – her posts have over a million combined likes and over 131,800 followers.

A stylish, hip, and strong woman-of-all-trades

Iris Apfel post on her Instagram profile

Centenarian Iris Apfel has a long list of accolades, including White House interior designer, textile creator, fashion icon, and the latest – signing as an IMG model at age 97. Add this to the list: collector of an impressive 2.1 million followers on Instagram. Her colorful page pops with images of her iconic large-framed eyeglasses and shots with fashion celebs such as Rachel Zoe, Tommy Hilfiger, and Karlie Kloss. With a tagline of “More is more, and less is a bore,” it’s no surprise that Iris’ page is filled with perfectly over-the-top fashion, #IrisYourCloset photos of fans dressed “Iris style,” and a multitude of fan art – proving that Apfel is not only an influencer, but clearly a muse to many.

A man whose opinion matters

George Takei's Twitter page

The 84-year-old political activist George Takei isn’t leaving it all to the girls. He has a whopping 9.5 million likes and 9 million Facebook followers, 1.4 million Instagram followers, and 3.2 million Twitter followers, thanks only in part to his work as Mr. Sulu in the film series “Star Trek.” His entrance into social media fed an interest in his personal life, which includes painful memories of his time in World War II prison camps for Japanese Americans. From these memories came Takei’s musical production “Allegiance,” which ran from 2015 to 2016 on Broadway. The New York Times bestselling author is an outspoken advocate for immigrant and LGBT rights.

No, today’s seniors are not just idly scrolling Facebook for updates on their friend’s feeds. Senior social media influencers make their marks on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube – sharing, posting, influencing, finding partnerships, creating brands, and influencing millions of followers. Indeed, social media is not just a young person’s world!

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Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith