Erica Reed, Author at Varsity Branding

Author: Erica Reed

If you’ve always thought social media was a young person’s game, you may want to think again. 

That’s because a new wave of senior influencers are giving content creators on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube a run for their money — or at least for their followers and brand collaborations. They’re called granfluencers, and they’re every bit as significant as their junior counterparts.

As I’ve shared recently, pop culture has no age, and social media is much the same. Just think back to 2010, when Betty White became the oldest person to host “Saturday Night Live,” thanks to the nearly half a million people who supported a Facebook campaign rallying for her to get the gig. Thinking back to her ability to cross generational lines, one could consider White to be the original granfluencer. 

Bursting with life experience, wisdom and overwhelming charisma, granfluencers have been busy creating content in all sorts of genres — from fashion and life advice to wellness and food. It’s also clear that they’re quite savvy in every way, even if it means their kids and grandkids are helping them produce video content. 

Not only are granfluencers racking up millions of followers, but they’re also shaking up social media dynamics. Marketers have noticed. And when you factor in that baby boomers control over half of the country’s household wealth, it makes a whole lot of sense for brands to expand into older demographics. 

Even better, granfluencers are actually reaching across generational lines, and there’s evidence that younger generations make up a large part of their followers. Maybe it’s because today’s young adults are drawn to the authenticity and wisdom of senior influencers, but two-thirds of Generation Z and millennials say they enjoy watching videos featuring mature adults. And a whopping 78% of Generation Z and millennials say they have gained valuable knowledge from older content creators.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve put together a list of some mature influencers that are popular among followers of all ages.

10 Granfluencers to Follow

Helen Van Winkle, @baddiewinkle

Instagram Followers: 3.1 M

Age: 95

Helen Van Winkle, @baddiewinkle

Known for her humor, innuendo and eccentric personal style, Helen fights for the legalization of medical marijuana and against ageism.

Lillian Droniak, @grandma_droniak

TikTok Followers: 13.3M 

Age: 93

As a celebrity grandma, this granfluencer can often be found discussing her love life and exes in humorous ways.

Lili Hayes, @lilihayes

TikTok Followers: 6.6M

Age: 76

An Israeli-American comedian, Lili enjoys entertaining followers by loudly ranting about life, while often sporting Supreme clothing.

Retirement House, @retirementhouse

TikTok Followers: 5.6M

Age: 70+

This group of six senior actors, collectively known as Retirement House, live together and create social media content together. 

Stanley Tucci, @stanleytucci

Instagram Followers: 4.3M

Age: 63

This actor and Italian foodie shares his travels and many delicious recipes, sometimes making them right in his own kitchen.

Barbara Costello, @brunchwithbabs

TikTok Followers: 3.9M

Age: 72

Touting herself as “everyone’s grandmother,” Babs is the internet mom and grandma you didn’t know you needed. Tune in for recipes, household tips and motherly advice.

Bo Petterson, @dadadvicefrombo

TikTok Followers: 3.5M

Age: 65

Bo offers fatherly advice on everything from buying a car to shaving, while also helping his daughter heal from a traumatic brain injury.

Joan MacDonald, @trainwithjoan

Instagram Followers: 1.9M

Age: 77

As a fitness granfluencer with a bodybuilder’s physique, Joan uses her own inspirational story to show followers of all ages that it’s never too late to put your health first and get into shape. 

George Takei, @georgehtakei

Instagram Followers: 1.4M

Age: 86

Known for his role on Star Trek in the 1960s, this actor and activist now shares content ranging from politics to pop culture.

Charlotte Simpson, @travelingblackwidow

Instagram Followers: 27.6K

Age: 68

After losing her husband of 31 years, Charlotte decided to focus on solo travel and share her experiences with the world on Instagram. She has been to all seven continents and all 50 states.

You’ve heard all the ageist cliches: Act your age. You’re no spring chicken. Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. You’re out of touch with society. And so many more. 

Is there any truth to these? Probably not. But here’s what we did realize about pop culture: You don’t have to be young to be relevant. 

Negative comments about aging and biases against older adults are pervasive in our lives. Which is why it’s so refreshing to see that pop culture has been debunking some of those stereotypes. Essentially, you can be mature and relevant, and we’re seeing proof of that in everything from toys to music. 

Justice for older women

Let’s talk about former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was always an influential public figure throughout her career. But it wasn’t until her 80s when she truly became a pop culture icon. The film “RBG details her unlikely rise to stardom, including how she was lovingly nicknamed “Notorious RBG” by her fans.

Thanks to the wildly successful “Barbie movie, the iconic, sexagenarian brand is more popular than ever — with consumers of all ages. Most notably, director Greta Gerwig used the movie to challenge age-related stereotypes of women in the film industry. Barbie’s longevity has impacted many generations, and it’s refreshing to see that impact get updated in a positive way. For example, last fall Mattel released a limited-edition Stevie Nicks Barbie doll, whose style and dress pays homage to the 75-year-old Fleetwood Mac singer. 

Musicians don’t seem to age

Look at Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 80, who released their first Rolling Stones album in 18 years last fall. Yes, it’s true, society is still worshiping these octogenarian rockers — and rightfully so. Their “Hackney Diamonds” album even features guest appearances from the likes of Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

Speaking of McCartney, 81, he’s another example of a musician who’s not slowing down anytime soon. Last year alone, he put out his “Eyes of the Storm” photography exhibition and accompanying book, a new podcast, finished up his Got Back tour and released the last Beatles song, “Now and Then.”

Also last year, 76-year-old Elton John completed his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. That’s after his relentless touring over the past 50-plus years, playing nearly 4,600 shows in 80 countries. 

At 90, Willie Nelson released his 74th solo studio album, “Bluegrass,” and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to tour and perform. 

And we can’t forget how Dolly Parton stole the show when she appeared at the Thanksgiving day Cowboys-Commanders game dressed as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She’s still got it at 77.

TV is the fountain of youth

This mature and relevant theme continues on TV. In fact, “Golden Girls,” four older women turned roommates, does seem to get better with age. After over 30 years since it last aired, its sassy dialogue still resonates with many, particularly millennials and the LGBTQ+ community.

There are also newer TV shows that play up older stars. “The Golden Bachelorfeatured Gerry Turner, 71. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were brought back into the spotlight with TV series “Grace and Frankie.” More than 30 years after the end of “Cheers,” Ted Danson is still being celebrated on TV, most recently with “The Good Place and “Mr. Mayor.” Michael Douglas starred in the “The Kominsky Method,” a show about an aging, once-famous actor who now makes a living as an acting coach. And even Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are as chic as ever in “And Just Like That …“, the Sex and the Citysequel. Only this time they’re dealing with issues like teenage kids and menopause, all while debunking media stereotypes of over-50 women. 

We’re just scratching the surface. There are endless examples of pop culture giving old age a fresh look. Maybe it’s because there’s an unprecedented population growth of people 65 and older. Or maybe society’s perspective has simply broadened to be more equitable to all ages. In any case, Jamie Lee Curtis, who won the first Oscar of her career for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at age 64, said it best: “This word ‘anti-aging’ has to be struck. I am pro-aging. I want to age with intelligence, and grace, and dignity, and verve, and energy. I don’t want to hide from it.”

In honor of National Mutt Day today, let’s meet the marvelous mutts of Varsity and our sister agencies. While mixed-breed dogs sometimes get overlooked, we think you’ll agree it’s pretty impossible to ignore these particular puppers. Whether a mix of just two breeds — or those veritable “Heinz 57-variety” pooches — they’re a big part of our lives, and truly our four-legged best friends.

While these happy hounds clearly have loving homes, there are so many mutts out there that are seeking adoption. Consider this our plug for all those mutts who need a home.

Here are our good bois and girls.

JovieJovie Breeds: Chihuahua, American Pit Bull, Pomeranian, Toy Fox Terrier, Miniature Pinscher

Human: Lyn Porter, Resource Manager

Pastimes: Giving in to FOMO, barking until you cuddle with me, sunbathing, hunting fishies in the lake, cheese

L.J.L.J. Breeds: Jack Russell Terrier, Pug

Human: Valerie Penaranda, Account Strategist

Pastimes: Barking for attention, eating my sister’s food, playing with my toy collection, making sure Mom is safe, sleeping, stretching

LincolnLincoln Breeds: Mutt to the max (a whole lot of stuff, mostly unknown)

Human: Matt Campbell, Director of Broadcast

Pastimes: PSU football, eating scraps, playing Frisbee, walks

LouieLouie Breeds: Mountain Cur, Plott Hound

Human: Emily Runyon, Account Strategist

Pastimes: Salivating for treats, lounging around, playing in the creek

MiaMia Breeds: Boston Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Australian Cattle Dog, Rottweiler

Human: Emily Runyon, Account Strategist

Pastimes: Fetching a ball or Frisbee, soaking up the sun, running around like a maniac

Mia WallaceMia Wallace Breeds: Chihuahua, Jack Russell Terrier

Human: Kyle Waldron, Content Designer

Pastimes: Sleeping, running in circles, not making eye contact, general confusion

MilaMila Breeds: Labrador, American Staffordshire Terrier, Beagle, Boxer

Human: Reneé Kelly, Graphic Designer

Pastimes: Napping, patrolling the yard for bunnies, begging for treats

Penny Breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, Golden Retriever

Human: Erica Reed, Senior Copywriter

Pastimes: Walkies, sleeping, belly rubs, fending off the mailman, begging for treats

TaffyTaffy Breeds: Border Collie, Jack Russell Terrier, Chihuahua

Human: Priya Acharya, Accounting Intern

Pastimes: Begging for food, play fighting with the cat, napping behind the couch, bike rides

TeddyTeddy Breeds: Havanese, Poodle

Human: Beth Harris, Human Resources Manager

Pastimes: Barking at the lawn maintenance men, “hiding” my favorite treats in plain sight

WilloughbyWilloughby Breeds: Dachshund, Chihuahua

Human: Kyle Waldron, Content Designer

Pastimes: Chasing and killing Nerf darts, vigilantly protecting the yard from passersby

WinnieWinnie Breeds: German Shepherd, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer

Human: Kaitlyn Mulligan, Social Media Strategist

Pastimes: Ball toss, Frisbee, defending the apartment, cuddles

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