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September 14, 2021

Despite being regarded as historically slow(er) social media adopters, baby boomers and even some members of the Silent Generation are hopping online and into influencer marketing in droves. Their influence isn’t limited, either — you can find a “granfluencer” in just about every area. 

From travel and fashion… 

…to fitness and food.

@grannycoybundy

#ad MTN DEW FLAMIN’ HOT is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. #mtndewflaminhot available now at the Dew Store @mountaindew

♬ Canyons – Official Sound Studio

How did we get here? It’s honestly not surprising that brands are looking for influencers in these generations — not when baby boomers control about 70 percent of all disposable income in the U.S. and spend about $7 billion each year online. With about 59 percent of baby boomers on social media (as of 2019), that’s a huge market being unlocked.

So we can agree that the market exists. But how do you go from grandma to granfluencer?

Let’s take a look at one OG granfluencer’s rise to fame to learn how maybe you too can be the next ageless icon. Meet Baddie Winkle, stealing your man since 1928 and generating millions of likes since 2014.

Step 1: Be novel, and be active

Baddie Winkle, or Helen Van Winkle, said it best in her Refinery 29 interview: “I don’t feel old. I have never felt old… You’re only here once in your lifetime, so have fun.”

Helen got her start by posting a photo of herself in her granddaughter’s clothing: a tie-dye shirt and cutoff jean shorts. For younger audiences, seeing a grandmother with more fashion sense than you definitely gets your attention. For older audiences, it gives you confidence to be yourself unabashedly. 

It stood out enough that Rihanna and Miley Cyrus reshared it, and the rest is history. 

Step 2: Establish your brand 

Baddie Winkle quickly went from posing in her granddaughter’s clothing to being an icon for eccentric fashion styles, a carefree spirit, and her pop culture-influenced humor. 

Her youthful sense of humor, in combination with her fashion choices, make her a meme machine — and users flock to her page to spread it like wildfire. 

Step 3: Get that money

Once she established and grew her audience, she had a big enough platform that’s worth a lot to the right brands. She’s been a spokeswoman for many brands over the years, with the most successful collaborations fitting into her personal lifestyle brand.

Her most recent partnership is with MTN DEW, which is making moves with a lot of granfluencers for its new product.

It may seem a strange partnership at first, but you don’t have to look far on Baddie Winkle’s page to see how much her humor relies on youth culture, and what says “freshman college mistakes” more than Flamin’ Hot Cheetos combined with MTN DEW?

So while we hope she doesn’t actually drink it (she’s 90, and we want her to reach 100), she’s got the reach and the comedy kick to pique our curiosity. 

You go, Baddie Winkle. 

About the Author

Kierstyn Schneck

Kierstyn is an account coordinator at ChatterBlast. As a recent D.C. transplant, she can be found in Philadelphia's nearby hiking trails or joining others in their dog envy on the bridge over the Schuylkill River Park.

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