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Finding your niche: How can retirement-age people become social media stars?

by Alliance America
January 25, 2024


Social media influencing has traditionally been seen as a young person's game – something for teenagers and 20-somethings to dabble in. Although social media influencing has been stereotypically viewed as a realm dominated by the vibrant energy and trends set by younger generations, this perception is rapidly changing.

The key for those of retirement age is to find their niche. A growing number of older adults is now making their mark on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, challenging the norms and reshaping the landscape of digital influence.

Rather than trying to appeal to a broad Gen Z crowd, they can play to their strengths and focus on creating content tailored to people their own age and situation. For example, a 70-year-old fitness enthusiast could start an Instagram account sharing simple exercise routines for older bodies. A retired teacher might establish herself as a YouTube educator on topics like grandparenting in the digital age.

The increasing presence of older adults on social media platforms signifies a shift in the digital world's demographic landscape. These individuals bring a wealth of experience and a different perspective, appealing to a broader audience that transcends age barriers.

Initially, a digital divide seemed to separate younger users from older generations. However, more older adults are becoming tech-savvy, bridging this gap and becoming active participants in the social media sphere.

What defines a social media influencer?

A social media influencer is a person who has established credibility in a specific industry or niche and has access to a large audience, primarily through social media platforms. These individuals engage with their followers by creating and sharing content, influencing their audience’s opinions, behaviors and purchasing decisions. Influencers are characterized by their ability to generate engagement, through likes, comments, shares and views, which sets them apart from traditional celebrities.

The phenomenon of social media influencing began to take shape in the late 2000s with the advent of platforms like YouTube and the early days of Twitter and Facebook. Initially, these platforms were used for sharing and networking, but as user numbers skyrocketed, some individuals began to stand out for their content, amassing large followings. The influencer industry gained significant momentum with Instagram’s launch in 2010, which provided an ideal platform for visually driven content creators.

The evolution of social media influencers

wallet opened with 'liked' icons inside instead of money

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital media, one of the most significant phenomena to emerge in recent years is the rise of social media influencers. These individuals, wielding substantial power and reach through social media platforms, have redefined what it means to be a celebrity in the digital age.

The rise of social media influencers marks a significant shift in media consumption, marketing and celebrity culture. From the early days of social networking sites to the current landscape with diverse platforms, influencers have become pivotal figures in digital media. As the industry continues to evolve, it faces new challenges and opportunities, but one thing remains clear: Social media influencers are a fundamental part of the modern digital narrative, with their impact set to grow in the coming years.

Why older adults are turning to social media

Older influencers have a lifetime of experiences to share, ranging from professional expertise to personal stories. Their content often resonates with audiences seeking wisdom, guidance or simply a relatable voice.

By establishing a strong online presence, older social media influencers are challenging societal norms about aging. They are showcasing that creativity, passion and influence do not diminish with age.

Social media offers an opportunity for older adults to build communities and connect with others who share similar interests, backgrounds or life stages.

What is the impact of older people who are social media influencers?

The rise of older influencers prompts brands to rethink their marketing strategies. By collaborating with these influencers, companies can reach a broader and more diverse audience.

Older influencers often bring a level of authenticity and trustworthiness that resonates with both their peers and younger audiences. Their endorsements can therefore be highly effective for brands targeting various age groups.

Across platforms, numerous older adults have successfully built substantial followings. For instance, on Instagram, fashion influencers in their 60s and 70s are redefining style norms. On YouTube, tech-savvy seniors offer technology advice, cooking tips or life lessons, drawing in thousands of subscribers. TikTok, too, has seen a surge of older users creating viral content, from dance challenges to comedic skits.

The emergence of older social media influencers signifies a more inclusive future for digital content creation. It underlines the universality of the social media experience and its power to give voice to diverse age groups.

Older influencers have the unique ability to appeal to multiple generations, bridging the gap between millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.

The variety of content offered by older influencers is expanding the niches within social media. Topics like retirement planning, grandparenting and age-appropriate fitness are gaining popularity.

The presence of experienced voices on social media opens avenues for mentorship and collaboration, fostering a learning environment that benefits younger influencers.

The evolving landscape of social media influencing, with the increasing participation of older adults, is a testament to the platform's versatility and reach. It challenges preconceived notions about aging and technology, proving that influence and relevance are not confined to youth. As more older individuals harness the power of social media, they are not only reshaping the narrative around aging but also enriching the digital content landscape with their unique perspectives and experiences.

The options for specialization are endless. Gardening, travel tips, lifestyle advice, cooking tutorials, book reviews – seniors have a lifetime of knowledge to draw from. As long as they have passion for their niche and put out regular, high-quality content, they stand to build an engaged community.

Monetizing your influence on social media

The most direct path is through the monetization features built into platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Once an account hits certain benchmarks for views and followers, it becomes eligible to earn a share of advertising revenue. Pay rates vary widely, but influencers with hundreds of thousands of dedicated followers can earn thousands per promotional post or sponsored content.

man holding funnel with social media impressions within it

Beyond direct advertising payouts, seniors can leverage their authority to make money through avenues like book deals, speaking engagements, affiliate marketing and selling merchandise. The demand for an influencer’s time goes up the more popular they become.

Keys for success as a social media influencer

Becoming a bonafide social media influencer at any age takes time and consistency. Seniors need to post frequently, foster engagement with a distinct personality and truly connect with their audience around shared interests. Production quality – both video and audio – can't be an afterthought.

The most famous and profitable older influencers treat it like a part-time job, putting in regular hours to generate and edit content. But for those willing to put in the effort, the rewards can be life-changing. Influence opens doors to new moneymaking avenues and gives seniors a powerful platform to impact the world.

Meet some retirees who’ve become social media influencers

In recent years, the landscape of social media influencing has seen an exciting and inspirational shift. Individuals of retirement age are breaking stereotypes and making significant strides as influencers. Their success stories are not just reshaping perceptions about aging but also highlighting the diverse nature of digital platforms. Let’s look at some real-life examples of senior social media influencers, exploring their backgrounds, motivations, content, revenue streams and other relevant details.

  • Lyn Slater, Accidental Icon. Lyn Slater, a university professor and social worker, started her blog, Accidental Icon, in her 60s. She was unexpectedly discovered by photographers outside a fashion show, mistaking her for a fashion industry insider. Slater’s motivation stems from a lack of representation for older women in the fashion world. She wanted to show that you can be stylish and relevant at any age. Her content revolves around fashion, lifestyle and issues related to aging. Slater combines her academic background with her fashion interests to create thought-provoking content. She has partnered with numerous high-end brands and has been featured in prominent fashion magazines. Her success demonstrates the potential of seniors in influencing industries traditionally dominated by the young.

  • Günther Krabbenhöft, Berlin’s Hip Grandpa. Günther Krabbenhöft, known as Berlin’s hip grandpa, gained attention for his impeccable style at an advanced age. He became an internet sensation after his photo, taken near a Berlin subway station, went viral. Krabbenhöft’s goal is to express himself through his unique style. He wants to show that age is not a barrier to expressing individuality. His content mainly focuses on fashion and lifestyle, showcasing his daily outfits and urban explorations. While specific details on revenue are not publicly known, his influence has earned him features in various style blogs and magazines, inspiring both young and old followers.

  • Baddie Winkle, Internet’s Bad Grandma. Helen Ruth Elam, known as Baddie Winkle, became an internet sensation in her late 80s. Born in 1928 in Kentucky, she lived a typical life before skyrocketing to fame. Her great-granddaughter posted a picture of her in trendy clothes, which quickly went viral. Baddie Winkle uses her platform to challenge stereotypes about aging and to encourage people to stay young at heart. She advocates living life to the fullest, regardless of age. Known for her vibrant, eclectic fashion sense and humorous posts, Baddie Winkle's content is a mix of fashion, humor and motivational messages. She has amassed millions of followers and has been featured in numerous ad campaigns for major brands, proving the commercial viability of senior influencers.

What can social media influencers expect in the future?

The industry is becoming more professionalized, with influencers increasingly relying on agents, managers and specialized agencies to manage their careers.

New platforms continue to emerge, like TikTok, which gained massive popularity in recent years. Influencers are likely to continue diversifying their presence across multiple platforms.

As the influence of social media personalities grows, so does scrutiny from both the public and regulators. Issues such as disclosure of sponsored content and the authenticity of followers are becoming increasingly important.

Meanwhile, some influencers are transitioning into traditional media roles, such as hosting TV shows or starring in movies, indicating a blurring of lines between digital and traditional media celebrity.

The future may see a rise in micro-influencers, who, despite having smaller followings, possess a highly engaged audience in specific niches. Also, the rise of artificial intelligence-generated virtual influencers, like Lil Miquela, suggests an intriguing future direction where the line between reality and digital creation becomes increasingly blurred.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company dedicated to the art of personal financial planning. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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