Senior Living

Seniors on Social: How Granfluencers Are Transforming the Digital Landscape

Mackenzie Fraser, Senior Vice President

Senior baking on social media

A remarkable phenomenon has emerged in social media: Meet the “granfluencers,” spirited seniors who use social media to share their wisdom and inspire others, proving that age is no obstacle to living life to the fullest. The rise of granfluencers creates a golden opportunity for senior living communities looking to demonstrate that active and vibrant lives are possible into a person’s 80s and beyond.

Granfluencers Have Clout

The most notable granfluencers are seniors who have mastered social media, amassing huge follower counts and gaining prominence in the digital world. Whether on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, these granfluencers share their lifestyles, passions and reflections on life with a global audience spanning all age groups.

These social media sensations can potentially change how people think about aging and redefine what retirement looks like. When featured within senior living communities’ communications, granfluencers can dispel dated stereotypes and challenge common misperceptions of retirement living.

Don’t underestimate the impact these septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians and even centenarians have on their peers and beyond. People of all ages appreciate their unique style and departure from the conventional expectations of aging.

A study published in PLOS ONE analyzed granfluencers on TikTok, concluding that, “If used purposefully, TikTok may serve as a promising platform for improving public perceptions of old age.”

Granfluencers Cover a Range of Topics

Granfluencers delve into everything from cooking to fashion to fitness. For instance, Lyn Slater, Ph.D., AKA Accidental Icon (@iconaccidental) on Instagram, is a late-60s fashion influencer who shares her fashion style with over 750,000 followers.

Barbara Costello, “everyone’s grandmother,” is a TikTok sensation with her @brunchwithbabs account co-created with her daughter. She boasts nearly four million followers on TikTok and three million on Instagram and invites viewers to “come for the family recipes, stay for the motherly advice.”

The queen of granfluencers may be Iris Apfel, a 102-year-old fashion designer and mega-influencer who calls herself a “geriatric starlet” and told CNBC that “getting old ain’t for sissies.” Apfel has 2.9 million followers on Instagram, 294,000 on TikTok and 1.1 million on Facebook. She’s also on Pinterest and X (formerly Twitter). Apfel represents a new generation of seniors for whom age is merely a number.

These granfluencers are extremely popular and carry substantial influence. They garner publicity, secure book deals and are well-compensated for endorsing brands. But how can you leverage them to enhance your community?

First, you must identify your target audience and connect with granfluencers whose values align with your brand. An upscale senior community, for instance, may connect with Slater and her refined style or Apfel’s “more is more and less is a bore” philosophy. At the same time, more down-to-earth residents may appreciate Costello’s approach to life.

Encourage residents to connect with these granfluencers and share their content on social media, inspiring other mature adults to look at aging in a new way.

Micro- and Nano-Granfluencers

While mega-influencers with millions of followers may not be the best fit for your community, enter nano- and micro-granfluencers. Micro-influencers have at least 10,000 followers, while nano-influencers have at least 1,000.

Many senior living communities have residents who are or have been experts in their fields. If they are comfortable with social media and promoting themselves online, you might have your very own in-house granfluencer.

You can also tap well-known residents in the local area as influencers. The word of doctors, financial advisors, realtors, lawyers and government officials carries weight, and those who have contact with your community can spread the reach of your messaging.

Though they may have smaller audiences, they can be as influential within their specific circles as mega-influencers are to broader audiences. Most importantly, they exude authenticity, a trait discerning consumers value. Consumers can quickly differentiate between authenticity and mere acting.

Leverage the Benefits of Granfluencers for Your Senior Communities

Here’s how granfluencers can help promote senior living communities:

  • Challenge Stereotypes: By defying stereotypes and sharing their colorful lives, they contradict the common misconception that senior living communities are dull and isolating. They showcase rich social interactions, unique opportunities and engaging activities, offering a glimpse into the dynamic nature of modern senior living.

    Pro Tip: Use granfluencer content in targeted online advertising campaigns. This allows you to reach a broader audience, especially through paid social media advertising, where granfluencers’ endorsements can be prominently featured.

  • Represent Vibrant Communities: Senior living communities benefit from granfluencers’ positive representation. They portray senior living as an exciting time for seniors to focus on themselves and continue to thrive and achieve.

    Pro Tip: Collaborate with granfluencers to write blog posts or articles about their experiences in your senior living community. They can share stories, insights and tips related to their lifestyle, which can attract and resonate with your target audience.

  • Showcase Activities: By highlighting the diverse activities—from art classes and gardening to fitness programs—and participating in them, granfluencers demonstrate that there is never a shortage of things to do in a senior community.

    Pro Tip: Granfluencers can participate in videos showcasing your community and them engaging in a variety of activities, such as fitness classes, art and music events, community outings, dining and more. This can provide authenticity and credibility to your marketing efforts. If your community is home to a notable or highly visible local community member, have them host an on-campus event that showcases their talent. A former politician could host a debate before an election, an author could facilitate a book talk or a doctor could host a roundtable on a variety of healthcare topics. Invite prospects and local media to take part in the activities.

  • Provide Real-Life Testimonials: Real people sharing real experiences always beats scripted advertising. When resident granfluencers advocate for a senior living community, it’s one of the most potent forms of marketing. People regard reviews from peers as infinitely more trustworthy than messaging from marketers.

    Pro Tip: Encourage your residents, especially those who are active and engaged, to share their positive experiences through written or video testimonials. These testimonials can be featured on your website, social media accounts and marketing materials to showcase the happy and fulfilling lives seniors are living in your community.

  • Bridge Generation Gaps: Granfluencers can serve as a bridge between generations, fostering understanding and appreciation between young and old. Seeing positive representations of active and vibrant older adults helps change younger people’s misconceptions, making them more receptive to messaging in the future.

    Pro Tip: Create collaborative content with granfluencers, such as e-books, guides or videos, offering insights into independent senior living, aging gracefully and finding the right community. This content can be a valuable resource for potential residents.

  • Inspire Creativity: Many of your residents are creative and engage in various artistic endeavors, such as painting, writing or music. As granfluencers, their creativity and passion will inspire others and help them see that a new and exciting phase of their life is just beginning.

    Pro Tip: Host events showcasing resident talents, such as art exhibits or music recitals. Invite prospects, their families and community members to join—residents can speak about their experiences directly with attendees. The in-house granfluencers can highlight how they’ve been able to fuel their passions within the community and share their talents with others.

  • Build Community: Because the key to an effective social media presence is engagement, successful granfluencers interact with followers and build an online community that transcends physical boundaries. This sense of belonging can be mirrored in senior living communities, where residents form tight-knit, supportive social groups.

    Pro Tip: Allow granfluencers to take over your senior living community’s social media accounts for a day or a specific event. This provides a firsthand look at life in your community and can generate excitement among your followers. Utilizing Facebook or Instagram Live features will also show how your community is adapting to technology, as that is appealing to today’s seniors.

A New Way to Look at Senior Living

“Granfluencers” are reshaping the social media landscape and offering a unique opportunity for senior living communities to redefine perceptions of retirement living.

By embracing the power of granfluencers, senior living communities can help older adults and the next generation reimagine aging and retirement living in a new light and see the amazing possibilities that await them.

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