If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you may have heard the term “influencer” thrown around. Broadly speaking, these are folks who make a living creating content for social media apps like Instagram and TikTok. They often partner with brands for sponsorships, and their posts might include anything from comedy to cooking demonstrations, fashion tips to advocacy. While you might assume this world is only the purview of millennials and Generation Z, many creative types over age 50 are getting in on this supposedly young person’s game. And, in fact, a number of them got their start during the pandemic at the urging of their grandkids, leading to a cute nickname for the trend: “grandfluencers.” If you want to see the changing face of social media, these 10 entertaining accounts are a great place to start.
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For cooking tips and grandma wisdom
Barbara Costello (@brunchwithbabs)
Instagram followers: 1.3 million
The Connecticut-based mother of four and grandmother of eight joined TikTok at the urging of her daughter at the height of the pandemic, and she’s quickly emerged as a major force in the world of easy-to-master recipes and food hacks. Costello, 73, has appeared on shows like Today, Good Morning America and The Drew Barrymore Show, and chances are you’ve already seen her cooking videos online for dishes like mojito watermelon salad, copycat KFC and air fryer doughnuts — always delivered with a folksy, approachable style that might remind you a bit of Ina Garten.
Follow her: brunchwithbabs
For fitness inspiration
Joan MacDonald (@trainwithjoan)
Instagram followers: 1.7 million
Five years ago, MacDonald, now 76, was suffering from high blood pressure, acid reflux and arthritis. With the help of her daughter Michelle, a personal trainer in Mexico, she decided to embark on a fitness journey, and the results have been astounding. Need proof? Just check out pictures of her impressive biceps! These days, you can turn to her Instagram account for tips and tricks on how to tone your arms, master a squat or flatten your tummy. “People sometimes tell me, ‘You’re lucky having a daughter who’s a coach,’” she told AARP. “That is true, but I did the work!”
Follow her: trainwithjoan
For feisty feel-good vibes
Helen Ruth van Winkle (@baddiewinkle)
Instagram followers: 3.3 million
All it takes to understand this 94-year-old Kentucky style icon is a glance at her Instagram tagline: “Stealing Ur Mans Since 1928.” Known for her bold makeup, body positivity, sexual innuendos and feisty persona, van Winkle emerged as an unlikely internet celebrity when she joined Twitter in 2014; in one of her earliest posts, she could be seen wearing her great-granddaughter’s cutoff jeans and tie-dye shirt. As she told NPR, she’s “always been a rebel,” and she thinks fans appreciated her because “they saw a great-grandmother that didn’t care what anybody thought about her.” Today, she counts the likes of Katie Couric and country superstar Kacey Musgraves among her 3.3 million fans.
Follow her: baddiewinkle