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An Innovative Instagram Live Series That Brings QVC-Style Deals to a New Generation

An Innovative Instagram Live Series That Brings QVC-Style Deals to a New Generation

In a new interview series, we shine a spotlight on the stories behind the businesses using SimpleTexting. First up we chat with Erin McGoff, founder of The Twenty.

Erin McGoff is an accomplished documentary filmmaker. 

Her first feature film, This Little Land of Mines, covers the 80 million unexploded American bombs in Laos. The film premiered in Washington, D.C. to a sold-out crowd and played in several festivals from Stockholm to Los Angeles. (You can find it on Amazon.)

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she’s also reported for the Pulitzer Center and worked with companies like Under Armour and Hilton. 

Now she’s turning her attention to a new production–an Instagram Live Series that takes the QVC-style format and applies it to an entirely new market. It’s The Twenty Live or The Twenty for short.

For those unfamiliar with QVC, it’s a television network and channel that offers the viewer a televised, in-home shopping experience. (If you’re wondering if that’s still a “thing,” the networked earned $14.1 billion in revenue in 2018 alone.)

The idea is to take that same in-home shopping format, broker deals with the top e-commerce brands, and then present the discounts and products to The Twenty’s millennial audience using Instagram Live once a week.

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⁣bringing back saturday morning cartoons ☕ ⠀ ⠀ it’s all pretty simple! We find a brand we love. We reach out to them and see if they want to give us an insane discount (but just for 20 minutes). We agree on a deal & announce the brand a week before the show (so you have time to check them out). On Wednesday, we go live right here on our page to give you the chance to text us and claim the code. After the show ends, we send those who texted in a specialized link to purchase directly from the brands website. ⠀ ⠀ text us any questions you have by clicking “contact” in our bio & use the word JOIN to start the conversation. We are so excited for our premiere on May 27th! 🥳⠀

A post shared by The Twenty (@thetwenty.live) on

We spoke with Erin to learn more about the idea, launching a business during a global pandemic, and her plans for The Twenty’s future.

Where did the idea for The Twenty Live come from?

Because of COVID-19, every type of film production practically stopped. So, my fiance, dog, and I escaped New York back in early April and went to stay with my parents. We stayed in their RV, actually.

In the RV, there was a satellite TV, and the only channel it picked up was QVC. I was watching it one day, and I thought to myself, why isn’t there something like this for millennials? You know, a QVC that sold Everlane and HelloFresh.

I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology and science of marketing–it was my minor in college. Plus, while promoting my documentary, I had to talk in front of cameras and promote crowdfunding campaigns. I figured I’d be comfortable marketing and presenting something like The Twenty.

I pitched the concept to some family and friends, including my brother, who headed up marketing for an apparel company, and the feedback was all positive. I decided to run with it.

Screenshots of The Twenty Live

Who are you targeting and how have brands responded to the idea?

We want it to ultimately be unisex and not solely target women as QVC does. But it’s challenging to do that at the start, so we’ve decided to hone in on young professional women.

I’m selling in the first season, and I want to use products that I genuinely love. The ones that we’ve lined up so far are products that I bought way before I had the idea for The Twenty.

In the future, we want to have multiple hosts that accommodate different niches. I’m not going to sell men’s shaving cream, for example.

In terms of the response from brands, it’s been great. I think companies are always on the lookout for new marketing ideas, and we’ve been blown away by how receptive they are.

Screenshots of The Twenty Live

It helps that all the brands we’ve discussed the concept with invest a lot into Instagram and influencer marketing, so they get it.

Why did you choose to combine texting and Instagram Live?

We needed a way for people to interact with the Live show. With QVC, people call in to purchase, but we knew that wasn’t going to work, and email isn’t a fit either. 

When I was first developing The Twenty, I figured I wasn’t the first person ever to come up with an idea like this. I found people had tried to do it before, but they did it through an app.

And that fails because people aren’t as into apps as they were.

We wanted to lower the barriers to accessing the show as much as possible. With texting, you can respond quickly and keep it conversational and straightforward. 

It helps that you can add a click-to-text button to your Instagram account–it makes it frictionless.

Screenshot of The Twenty's Instagram profile and welcome text message

What’s it been like launching a new venture during COVID-19?

It’s interesting. It’s great that the whole thing is remote. With traditional film production, that’s not an option.

But I’m also sensitive to the massive rate of unemployment and the fact that many people don’t want to–and can’t–buy stuff now.

I think as the economy restarts, we need to adjust to new buying habits, and in many ways, The Twenty fits nicely into that. It’s also a welcome distraction for people–the response has been that it’s nice to see something starting in this challenging time.

I’d also add that these deals aren’t just regular deals. When we talk with brands, we’re asking them, what is the absolute best deal you can provide us. We’re firmly on the side of the consumer.

Last question, what does the future hold for The Twenty, and what are you doing to grow your audience?

There’s a very ambitious plan in place for this once we’re done testing it out in this first season.

Phase two involves a more gamified experience, and that’s where texting is super important. 

It’s one of the reasons we choose SimpleTexting–we need to be able to see the texts that are coming in immediately. 

I also want to have multiple hosts, integrate influencers, shoot in various locations, and expand into Instagram TV.

For all of these ideas to happen, the first season needs to go well, but we’re quietly confident from what we’ve seen so far.

Regarding audience growth, quality is essential. I’m less concerned about the number of people following us. I want people to really engage with the idea, to see its value, and to recommend it to their friends. That’s how it’s going to be successful.

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