We typically expect social media personalities to be in their 20s or younger, and while many of them are, older content creators are also building a dedicated following online.
Studies show that older people are often portrayed as non-tech-savvy and out-of-touch. In reality, according to CBS, influencers who are grandparents or in this age group are making tons of money online, challenging age stereotypes and inspiring others to be more creative. Older content creators are better at representing their demographics—and younger fans are paying attention, too.
Women in particular are facing the harsher consequences of aging, despite it being simply a natural aspect of life. Media portrayal of successful, happy older women is sparse, and youthfulness is often emphasized. Ageism is also evident at work and in personal relationships, where women are judged on the basis of their looks or life choices. The message is clear: women should fear aging. However, older female influencers challenge this notion.
Salina Williams is a 51-year-old influencer who began taking Instagram more seriously in 2021 after using the app for seven years. Williams still works full-time at the Department of Mental Health in New York, where she has been employed for 21 years, posting pictures of her stylish outfits daily. She has recently started posting YouTube videos of her stays, shopping sprees and fun content, hoping to show women in her demographic in a positive light.
Williams’ eldest daughter, mother of three, encouraged her to try harder to grow her fan base. Williams started posting mostly pictures of her outfits, focusing on things she enjoyed. She’s a big fan of brands like Zara, and her Instagram feed showcases bold colors, jumpsuits with fun prints, and silhouette experiments like using corsets over breezy blouses.
“I wear things that are relatable, I think for all ages, and I think that’s what comes across,” says Williams. “I’ve always loved fashion, and I just wear what I want to wear.”
Ageism is certainly something Williams has thought about. “After a while you become like an invisible group,” she says. Luckily, her posts have inspired younger women preparing for life past their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. In fact, some of her younger followers take inspiration from her work there her age. Williams often gets texts saying, “I want to be like this when I’m 50” and “I want to dress like this.”
“I think that’s why I’m having success right now,” she says. “Women are taught to fear aging. After a period of time we are taught that life is somehow over. That whatever you wanted to do or become, you should have done it already. And now that I’m very much into menopause, I’m basically supposed to be happy to sit in a corner and grow a beard. That’s what we were taught growing up, that you’re past your prime. And for the younger ladies that are growing up, they’re like, ‘That’s amazing.'”
Social media is a time-consuming job that can cause friction with influencers’ loved ones, but Williams says her children support her.
Known as The Organized Soprano on YouTube, Kay Patterson has always loved organizing rooms and has been an organizational consultant for the past nine years. She started her channel in 2013 and was reluctant to start her channel due to her age. Now 45 years old, she has built a dedicated fan base in the organizing space thanks to her helpful videos and warm presence. Patterson first shot a marketing video for her clients, uploaded it to YouTube and released it.
“I didn’t think anyone would look at it. And a few people were watching,” she says.
After building her organizing YouTube channel, she launched a separate gaming channel, KayDaisy. With over 22,000 subscribers, she was surprised that people were interested in her adventures while playing Animal Crossing. While it’s true that a social media presence is fraught with negativity and trolls, Patterson has found an open-minded audience.
“The nice surprise was how welcoming an audience can be, regardless of age, race, or gender identification, when you resonate with them,” she says.
Violeta Zuvela, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, modeled from a young age. However, she left the industry for a while, had her five children and returned to modeling in her 50s. She is now 56 years old and has both a successful modeling career and an Instagram presence with over 31,000 followers.
Like other content creators, Zuvela has had its ups and downs, but the upsides outweigh the bad. “The best thing for me was that women were interested in what I wear, how I wear it and my style,” she says. Zuvela encourages women on any budget to find their personal style, express themselves and not let age or other circumstances hold them back from their dreams.
The world of social media exposes all content creators and influencers to trolls and critics, but Williams, Patterson and Zuvela mention that their social media experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
In the creative economy, even some people over 30 may feel “too old” to start a YouTube channel, TikTok, or any other social media site. But Williams, Patterson and Zuvela think that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, everyone agreed that people of any age should do whatever they want and even shared a few tips.
For those looking to build their social media presence, Zuvela says, “Be yourself. Be realistic. And don’t worry about comments that are going to hurt you and people leaving those comments because that’s probably one of the hardest things I found when starting out.”
Patterson says age can actually be an advantage for older creators. “You have a lot more life experience,” she shares. “I feel like older people are willing to take more time to develop skills and get better at things so they make fewer mistakes in the future.”
Williams encourages people who want to try creating online content to just do it, even if they’re scared. “There’s a lot of money to be made because companies have to advertise,” she says. “Assuming you’re 60 years old, have gray hair and still like hip-hop, people will love you. Let’s say you’re 60 years old and you still want to wear a crop top and bake brownies, people will love you. So just do it, you will find your people, and those people will be there for you.”
Older content creators don’t have to worry too much about their audience either. Younger people like to see engaging content from adults they can relate to. Older YouTubers also show them what to look forward to in the future. Zuvela, Patterson and Williams are proof that you can be successful on social media at any age.
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