Social Influencers Over 50
Scores of older Americans have become online celebrities, sharing their wit, wisdom and style
Don’t let anyone tell you social media is just for kids. On Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, a cadre of spirited, fashion-forward, hashtagging 50-plus-year-olds are redefining what it means to be an “influencer.” That’s the word for people — and they skew female — with flocks of online followers seeking to dress, shop, think, sip and savor the good life exactly like them. Some of these insta-stars (nobody here was famous before posting pictures online) are making second or third careers of their newfound fame. Others simply love the likes. For all, it’s been life altering: a jump start for the ego if not always the bank account, and a surprise gateway to new skills, new lingo, new experiences and many, many new friends.
“We need to get over the idea that age is a barrier to expressing yourself on social media,” says Ari Seth Cohen, whose popular Advanced Style books and website focus on trendsetters, creatives and inspiring types over 50. “Older people looking great and doing amazing things — that’s the norm now,” he adds. “If you’re aging in style and staying vital and active, why not share that with the world?”
Money: The Super Saver
Cindy Livesey, 55
This all started because we were living way beyond our means. Then, boom, my husband lost his job. To survive, I taught myself to use coupons every day, and that first year, I saved $11,000. I started a blog — an unpaid online diary, basically — about unusual ways to save money. Out of nowhere, people started flocking to the site. It became a real community. We now have 12 people working for us. Follow LivingRichWithCoupons on Facebook
Travel: The Wanderers
David and Veronica James, 50s
The globe-trotting, RV-ing boomers hit the road in 2008 and, as blog is their witness, haven’t looked back. Kids gone! Now what? Let’s go-o-o! Their website and social posts brim with excitement and with insight into traveling America (and the world) post-children. Follow @gypsynester on Twitter
Family: The Odd Couple
Kevin, 21, Lillian Droniak, 88
Kevin: When I was 14, I started making videos of my grandma without her knowing it and uploading them to YouTube. The views kept rolling in. My grandma has too much personality to keep it just in the family.
Lill: I knew something was up. People started recognizing me. After a while, I was, like, what is going on here? Then Kevin confessed the news to me. It’s great! We’re famous all over Connecticut.
Kevin: All over the world, Grandma.
Lill: That’s right. Isn’t that amazing?
Follow Kevin and Lill on YouTube
Work: The Builder
Scott Wadsworth, 61
I’d been in construction for 40 years. About three years ago my son Nate made a video of me in my shop and threw it up on YouTube. I was skeptical. But a few videos later, we had 100,000 views. Now we have millions. It’s incomprehensible. I had assumed I would just continue as a small contractor until I couldn’t get out of bed anymore. But now what I’m doing has more value than ever before. Follow Scott on YouTube
Lill Hayes, 70
107,000 Instagram followers
She says she’s "over everything" and loves to gripe (loudly) about it. Follow @Lili_Hayes on Instagram
Herbie Russ, 55
51,000,000 YouTube views
Herbie performs for tips he donates to folks living on the streets. Follow Herbie on YouTube