How Instagram Fueled My Journey From Entrepreneur to TV Host

As the social media platform turns 10, here's how it helped me evolve my media and philanthropic brands.

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By Simonetta Lein

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October 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Instagram. While it is almost hard to imagine the revolutionary app is 10 years old, it is also difficult to envision a world without it. Instagram has exploded in popularity, and with more than one billion active users, it's no wonder why it is the go-to app for brands, professionals, companies and influencers alike. I find Instagram to be the most efficient and rewarding platform to interact with my audience, and while I look very fondly on its past, I am more excited about its future.

With more than 25 million businesses on Instagram and 100 million-plus photos and videos uploaded every day, Instagram represents a tremendous brand-awareness opportunity, something I was recognized for by Forbes earlier this year. Recognized as a top influencer, I collaborate with brands looking to expand their audience, and I understand how the platform can be leveraged to gain immediate results.

In my personal growth as an influencer, woman entrepreneur and TV host, Instagram has always been integral to all my endeavors. This was probably the first platform where I found support for The Wishwall. As an entrepreneur, when I founded Ausonia Partners, Instagram growth and management were some of the first few services that we helped our clients with. I've always extended my learnings as an influencer to my clients.

Fast-forward to 2020, what has been particularly interesting is how Instagram's IGTV has evolved, especially during the pandemic. As the Hollywood system seemed to fall apart, IGTV empowered content creators, who began organizing studios at homes. We're not attached to the regular means of production anymore; anybody can leverage platforms like IGTV and reach larger audiences.

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I chose IGTV for The Simonetta Lein Show (SLTV) for the flexibility and functionality it allows, and withiin a few months we garnered more than 400 million views. (As I speak about SLTV, I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my team, whether it's Messiah Jones (The Wig Doctor); Jasmine Smith (MUA); Production Manager Kate Massih; Executive Producer Raphael Anthony Amabile; Booking Producer James Clark; or Sophie Bowman, CEO of Business Owners Society for brand outreach.) It also helped me reach celebrities and internet personalities who otherwise were far off my reach. It has been incredible to connect with Bob Saget, Tommy Chong, Leon, Kim Sledge of Sister Sledge, Lou Ferrigno, Jay Shetty, Jodi Sweetin and many more.

Focus on creators

Instagram redesigned its home page to feature creators tailored to the user as per what types of content they follow, like, interact with and regularly consume. This update proved how powerful accurately targeted audiences are and how Instagram is working to make this happen. With the discover tab, users can get to content faster, encouraging more people to use the standalone app. Regardless, the overall focus on creators shows exactly how Instagram has changed the worlds of entertainment, marketing and information by pushing engagement through content viewership.

Shopping on IGTV

This month, Instagram expanded shopping to IGTV and gave sales and ecommerce a much-needed shot in the arm. With this update, the viewer can watch a video and then, with just a few taps, check out purchasing products giving brands and influencers yet another way to monetize their audience. Considering the pandemic forced many businesses to close their physical locations and take their business online, this is a massive development with unlimited potential. The future of shopping is online, and we all recognize that. IGTV has now given us a way to do it.

Automatic closed captioning

This is a big deal, and it's why we cannot discuss the evolution of IGTV through this pandemic and beyond without mentioning it. This is about accessibility and recognizing the need for accommodations so that everyone has access to your content. Since our phones go everywhere with us, many people choose to watch a video with the sound off. Also, deaf and hard-of-hearing followers deserve to access your content with ease, and while the transcriber isn't 100 percent accurate, it currently offers the best solution for your videos. When seconds matter, as they do on social media, automatic closed captioning prevents engagement loss through inaccessibility.

Related: 3 Things Online Businesses Must Consider to Grow and Thrive

The year 2020 has changed the world and the way we interact with it, and Instagram is taking notice.

Simonetta Lein

Millennial Entrepreneur, Fashion Influencer, Activist

Simonetta Lein is an author, millennial entrepreneur, influencer and activist founder of the Wishwall Foundation

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