How a challenging business conversation inspired Trinny Woodall to take the social media world by storm

Robert Nicholas | OJO Images | Getty Images

Understanding the "ins and outs" of social media is essential now for businesses to thrive online.

And for British fashion and beauty guru Trinny Woodall, social media has proven key to promoting her profile and her company's portfolio.

"Trinny London," a business that she launched in October that offers its customers a stackable, versatile makeup range, already has thousands of followers on various social media platforms. Woodall herself has more than 320,000 people following both her Instagram and Facebook accounts, providing a boost to her brand on an international scale.

However, if it wasn't for an exchange she had with a venture capitalist (VC) a few years ago, the 53-year-old may have paid scant attention to her social media presence.

"Two-and-a-half years ago on a Skype call, I'm trying to raise money and there's a Silicon Valley VC there. Name and shame: Danny Rimer (from) Index Ventures," Woodall told CNBC's "Life Hacks Live" when asked to name an obstacle she had faced that made her grow.

The Trinny London founder said she wanted to "create the best image" of herself and her brand, to underline what her company could offer.

"So, I decorated the back of my wall, I put on extra makeup, I wore a shiny shirt — and there he was in jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops, with his phone in his hand," she said.

Trinny Woodall looks on at the Westfield Fashion Therapy launch event at the Sydney Cricket Ground on September 28, 2010 in Sydney, Australia
Don Arnold | WireImage | Getty Images

As Woodall was telling the VC about how she'd influenced women around the world with her makeover advice — elevated by her work as a television presenter for "What Not to Wear" in the 2000s — she noticed that the businessman was consistently looking at his phone.

When asked how many followers she had on Instagram, Woodall replied "6,000", which was met with his response of "I'm not interested."

"And so I put down the phone and thought I'm 53, I need to understand every single technology like I'm a 20-year-old — that's what it made me realize," she said.

"I need to live and breathe it, and have a passion for it. Not just know it, but have a passion for it. So I then made it my passion to think 'OK, if I'm going to really channel what I have to Instagram and Facebook — how am I going to do that? And how am I going to be different from all the other voices out there?'"

Fast forward to 2017, and Woodall is a social media hit — not only does her YouTube channel have over 44,500 subscribers, her Instagram has 324,000 followers and more than 333,000 people like her Facebook page. From being a television star, Woodall's turned herself into a social media star.

In the 2000s, Woodall co-presented "What Not to Wear" with Susannah Constantine. The makeover reality TV show was BAFTA Award-nominated and inspired a U.S. spinoff hosted by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly for 10 years, from 2003.

While the fashion, beauty guru knows her voice has always been "to be on video," what she likes about being a social media hit is that she gets to edit herself and have the freedom to convey her own messages.

"The joy for me of that is that I edit myself. What you see is what you get," Woodall said.

"So if somebody decides not to like me, there's nothing I can do about it and there's nobody I can blame, and I am what I am in front of the camera and off. So the joy and the freedom that brings is incredible."

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice. You can watch the full interview here.

Robert Nicholas | OJO Images | Getty Images
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