Grandparents are taking over social media
Move over millennials. As a recent survey showed, social media is no longer the exclusive preserve of young people. Sprightly Geoffrey Walker and his wife Pauline, 88 – known as @geoffreywalk online – have amassed a global fanbase with sweet commentary on their drama-free daily lives.
They are among the top 10 so-called British granfluencers – older people, aged between 50 and over 90 – whose posts on Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms have struck a chord with followers at across continents, garnering them huge online followings and, in some cases, even lucrative sponsorship.
Some are all about fashion for older people, others document their travels, fitness regimes, or homes, and younger global audiences savor the warm, wholesome content.
Like other successful granfluencers, Geoffrey and Pauline offer authenticity. They tell him how it is, and that honesty is trustworthy.
So when they appeal to causes or mention products, followers take notice to a degree that young influencers aspire to.
They are also part of a larger community that supports them when they go through difficult times.
“We have 317,000 followers on Instagram from all over the world and some of them come to visit us,” says Geoffrey.
“We have often mentioned our wonderful village fish and chips – Ruby‘s – on Instagram. A few months ago three of our US followers called Ruby’s and we got a call from them.”
“We went downstairs to meet them and then invited them back for a cup of tea. We had a great time. It’s always good to meet your followers for a chat.”
“They were thrilled to see our house because they had seen all the pictures on social media. We’re just amazed there’s all this interest in our lives. We still can’t fathom it.”
Another place they like to mention is St Joseph’s Tea Room at Abbey Grange in the nearby town of Coalville, around 20km from Leicester.
Many of their followers also went there, just in case the couple enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a cream scone.
With 1,428 posts under their belt, the couple are among the most popular granfluencers in the country and have certainly put their little village on the world map.
Whenever walkers see a poster for a local event, like Ruddington Open Gardens last month, they snap a photo and post it to Instagram to help boost attendance.
In June, they proudly posted an advertisement for the play Beside The Seaside, performed at the Charles Booth Center in the Village, a place close to their hearts.
With the help of Instagram followers, they raised £13,000 to help pay for a lift for the community centre, so disabled people like Pauline can easily get to the auditorium to catch a show.
Geoffrey and Pauline offer authenticity
Even the Queen acknowledged their efforts to collect donations and sent them Maundy Money in 2021, although it unfortunately had to be posted due to the pandemic. “I was just dumbfounded,” Geoffrey confesses as he draws royal attention. “These things – you don’t expect them to happen to you.”
They became granfluencers somewhat by accident after they started using social media to stay in touch with their three children, five grandchildren and 10 grandchildren.
Although they are happy to support local businesses and causes, they do not accept payment themselves.
In May 2017, someone from the village posted a screenshot of his Instagram account and suddenly he got 150,000 likes and 50,000 retweets.
“We were gaining 1,000 subscribers a week,” says Geoffrey. Their fans seemed to particularly enjoy the videos he shot of his wife in the garden, reading a book, or in the kitchen.
After seven decades of marriage, people admire the way they support each other, especially when things go wrong.
When Pauline cried out in tears for help after her purse was taken, they were overwhelmed with the warmth of messages from their followers.
Geoffrey is undergoing surgery to replace a heart valve and is keeping his followers up to date on his progress and recovery in his usual upbeat fashion.
For many young social media followers, granfluencers may remind them of their own grandparents, and there’s a nostalgia for the simple, old-fashioned lives they lead.
Some American granfluencers would earn a fortune. Pauline ‘Granny’ Kana, 95, from Ohio, is estimated to earn £15,000 per sponsored post on Instagram.
‘We have 317,000 followers on the still
And while British grandfather Joe Allington (@grandadjoe1933) still has some way to go to match that level of success, he’s become a TikTok sensation at 89, garnering an understanding following of more than five million people around the world. world.
Joe has partnered with Walkers crisps, National Rail and Lipton Ice Tea for positions, under deals arranged by his daughter Wendy, who acts as manager.
“I’m not ready to say how much they were worth, but let’s just say we won’t get rich,” says Wendy, who worked in marketing. Joe’s income has been estimated at £134,000 by one website, but he is not interested in making the riches from his viral fame. For him, it’s just a bit of fun.
“It all started a long time ago at the start of the lockdown, when I felt we had to do something together as a family,” says Wendy ins Lichfield from the family home in Lichfield, Staffordshire. “In January 2020, we were all at home.
We started it for fun and it kind of escalated. I was amazed at how many people started following dad.
GradadJoe receives sponsorships
“Nothing we do is that complicated. We went into a store and made a video of dad looking at empty shelves and that kind of stuff. It touched a nerve because a lot of people were in the same boat.”
“There was no real formula. I usually come up with a video idea and then he picks it up very quickly.”
As the pandemic subsided, the videos became more humorous. They are currently working on a track where Joe syncs to a pop song.
“I leave all that to Wendy,” he said. “I just do what she tells me to do. It gave me a new lease of life. I’m glad people seem to like them. It’s just for fun. We didn’t try to win any money or whatever.”
Neither does retired actress Georgia Zaris (@georgia_goes_grey). The spring 2020 confinement simply gave him the perfect opportunity to unleash his shades of gray on the world of social networks.
Georgia, who has appeared in The Bill, New Tricks and several films including Mr Right, had dyed her gray locks brown for years, but with her favorite salon closed she embraced the idea of returning to her natural color.
Her decision proved to be a huge hit on Instagram, where she now has a following of 119,000. At the age of 53, she found kinship with thousands of other women eager to embrace aging with brilliance but without fear.
Georgia Zaris shot to fame after ditching hair dye
“When the gray started to show at the roots, I decided it was time to stop all dyeing and couldn’t be happier,” says Georgia.
“I shared the photos on Instagram and was amazed by the response. So many women felt the same, from all over the world. I think people liked that I was honest and open.”
The Greek-born Georgia, who lives in Cobham, Surrey, with her husband and daughter, says keeping gray at bay was expensive. But her social media posts attracted companies who showered her with freebies, hoping for a mention.
At first she was happy to accept this, but over time she changed her mind and is now much more selective about what she promotes as a young granfluencer.
Now she only has two “offers” and donates the money from each to charities close to her heart. One is with vitamin firm Lumity and the other is with Rumi Cosmetics, which she would use anyway.
“I take the vitamins and use the cosmetics, so I stay authentic,” she says. “I didn’t feel comfortable promoting products I didn’t use, so I quit.”
She donates money from her ‘sponsorships’ to the NSPCC and a cancer charity because she herself suffered from a rare cancer – pecoma – and is now in remission.
What Georgia loves most about being a granfluencer is the relationship she has developed with her followers.
“I’m part of what’s called the Silver Sisterhood, women around the world who are happy to let their hair go gray and make the most of every day,” she says.
“You realize you’re not alone. We’re all in this together and we’ll face whatever life throws at us.”
“Most of the comments have been positive, but some people have posted nasty comments.”
“At first, I used to ignore them, but now I have a private conversation with them. Once you start chatting, you find that they’re raging because of something else that’s going on. happened in their life and they apologize.”
“As an actress, I’ve had a lot of rejection over the years and you sort of get used to it, so I don’t take it personally.
“I have developed very good friendships with many of my followers. I went to Glastonbury with a group of them and we had a great time. I am a very open person and share everything with my followers. J really appreciate these friendships.”