How to Create Viral Content with Katya Varbanova

February 19, 2020

How to Create Viral Content with Katya Varbanova


How to Create Viral Content

Going viral isn’t just about having your 15 minutes of fame. If your content goes viral, your brand is exposed to a whole new audience you couldn’t ever reach organically. It’s promoting your business without having to spend on ads. 

Are you worried you can never reach that many people? Creating a viral piece of content is actually not as hard as you might think, says Katya Varbanova. She is a viral video creator and marketing strategist and knows all about creating content with the potential to go viral. Here, she talks about the three biggest mistakes people make when they want to go viral, her secret Instagram strategy and the difference between showing vs. telling content. 

Starting a Career in Sales

Growing up in Bulgaria, Katya’s big dream was to become a lawyer. “But while I was studying to go to law school, my mother, who is a big fan of Western European education, slipped brochures in my desk from universities in the UK.” Katya looked at them one day and really liked what she saw. “I called my mother and said I wanted to go study in the UK and that I could apply for a free government loan. And she said that’s exactly why she had put them on my desk.”

Katya went to study law in the UK, but when she graduated, she decided to not go down the legal path. “I realized that I wasn’t willing to work 16 hour days for £60,000 a year, and I decided to go into banking instead.” 

She started working in sales and marketing in one of the biggest banks in the UK, selling credit cards and home insurances. “After a year I applied for an executive assistant role with the managing director and moved into the head office. I was the right hand woman of the DM who managed 12’000 people.” 

From a Full Time Banking Job to Living Off Her Membership Site

About 10 months into her second year at the bank, Katya stumbled across the video streaming platform Periscope. “I remember that it launched 2015 and within three months, it became very popular. I heard about it from a blogger that I used to follow and I jumped on it as a viewer. I was fascinated by how people grew followers so quickly.” She decided to give it a try herself, go live and talk about her life as a banker. “I talked about my top tips for how to network to get the best job and stuff like that.”

Katya was 23 at the time, and it took her three weeks of going live every single day to reach 1300 followers. “I had no social media presence before, and went to 1300 from zero. I thought I could bring some of these people together inside a Facebook group and moved them there. The group ended up having about 150 members and we created Peri10k, which was a community of Periscopers who were working together to grow to 10’000 followers each.” 

This is one of Katya’s biggest secrets to going viral on social media. “You need to have your content being shared. One way to do it is to join forces with people who are relevant and to share each other’s content in a collaborative way.” Within a few weeks after creating her Facebook group, everybody in it started doubling and tripling their audiences. 

“I was extremely fascinated by these results, but also felt a little overwhelmed. I had a nine to five job on top of managing this community and felt burned out.” One of the members in her group asked her why she didn’t charge for what she was doing in the sense of a small membership fee. “At first I felt greedy for asking for money. I had never done this before and felt I didn’t have any expertise. But I went ahead and did it anyways because it was getting so overwhelming. My choice was to monetize it, or shut it down.”

Katya added an application form, posted it to her 1300 followers and within weeks got 60 people joining and paying her to be part of it. “By October of that year, I had replaced my full time banking income because of that following. I handed in my notice, quit my job, and I’ve been doing it full time since November 2015.” 

Today, Peri10k turned into 20k Nation. “The community runs to this day as a membership, and the price has evolved massively. This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for that audience that I built up really quickly and strategically.” 

Going Viral: The Biggest 3 Mistakes

Katya is an expert in knowing what makes content go viral. “I want to define what I mean by viral. In my eyes, it’s being able to reach more people than follow you. For example, if you have 100 followers and you can create a piece of content that reaches 10,000 people, I’d say that’s viral. If you have millions of followers, but you reach only 500,000 people, that’s not that viral.” 

Katya says that reaching new people is easier than one might think, but people tend to make general mistakes. 

“The number one mistake people make is that they don’t create content that is shareable. To go viral, you have to think beyond your ideal customer and go broader.” What Katya means is content that speaks to more people. “I teach content marketing, so I could write an article about how to create viral content. But that’s not going to go as viral as if I chose to do something more broad, because there’s so many people that don’t even know they need to create content. So instead of how to create viral content, it’s actually about how to get more traffic without paying for ads. There’s many ways to do that, it’s broader and it achieves exactly the same thing.” 

The second mistake is that people tend to want to be on every possible platform. “I grew from zero to 1300 followers on Periscope and focused on no other platform at the time. I recommend that you plan an intense promo period of time focusing your attention and energy on just one place.”

The third mistake is that often people think they can put their content out there and it will automatically attract viewers. “The truth is, no matter what industry you’re in, if you want to grow a community of people, if you want to get a bigger audience and a bigger reach and bigger impact, you can’t be a bystander in your industry and expect that people will just find you. You have to go out and get involved in an already existing conversation. Who are influencers in your industry that are already serving the people you want to serve? How can you contribute to their conversation? How can you go on other people’s content and leave a really meaningful comment? And no, I don’t mean promoting yourself. I don’t mean telling people to follow you. I mean genuinely adding your opinions, your thoughts, your feelings about somebody else’s content.” 

Katya used to spend hours a day responding to every single comment and messaging every single person that watched her Periscope. “I thanked them for watching and told them that I appreciate the time and attention they were giving me. Most people aren’t willing to do that and then wonder why nobody cares about their content. If they only have 10 people watching, they think it’s not working for them, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to message those 10 people and make sure they feel appreciated. Because when you start doing that with people, they realize that you validate what they’re doing, and they will come back to watch your streams over and over again.” 

The Instagram Strategy Secret

When Katya was on Periscope, she used a specific strategy to make her content being shared and go viral. “I called it Share-A-Thon. Six people would come together to discuss one topic each for 10 minutes. So I would go live for 10 minutes and then I’d pass all my viewers on to the next person, and then the next person will go live for 10 minutes and then we would pass on to the next person. The cool part was that we were all sharing our followers with each other when the other person was going live. Periscope had this feature. It’s harder to do it on other platforms.” 

However, Katya developed a new strategy she uses on Instagram. “I have one account right now that I’ve been growing for a couple of months and it has about 3,300 followers. However, it reaches 300,000 people a week with the content. Instagram is the easiest platform to go viral.” 

The secret behind Katya’s Instagram success starts with choosing which account she wants to grow. “I have my personal brand account, which is LiveStream Katya, and it’s where I share behind the scenes with my business, my content marketing tips and anything else that’s relevant to my business. However, I don’t actively go and spend all my energy on growing this account. Instead, I have a second account that is more interest based, and this is a place for conversations in the industry. The account isn’t about me, it’s about a topic that my ideal clients would relate to.” 

In Katya’s case, she’s growing an account called ENFP entrepreneur. “For anyone who’s into Myers-Briggs or Jung psychology, I created that account to discuss what it’s like to be an ENFP and an entrepreneur, and I’m attracting entrepreneurs who are interested in Myers-Briggs. I mostly post viral memes and interesting quotes on that account, and of course all things that are relatable for other ENFP entrepreneurs.” 

Ideal clients for Katya’s 20k Nation membership are people who are already into Myers-Briggs and they already know their type. “I grow the ENFP entrepreneur page as a viral page and it reaches up to 300’000 people. From that page I have the bio in which I link to my other account, LiveStream Katya. Some people decide to follow me on my other account, and that’s where I can sell my product or service.”

Katya says that the real secret to making the interest based account work is to make it about the audience and not herself. 

Show, don’t tell

The most important thing is that all of the content is about one theme or one niche. “This kind of content blows up the fastest on Instagram. What currently goes viral are visual charts that represent something that you’re trying to teach. For example, instead of writing a quote, try to represent it graphically.”

This blends into what Katya is doing with videos on her Facebook page. “I do viral worthy videos, the kind that triggers a certain emotion in people. It can be any emotion, from shock to inspiration to laughter. You don’t have to be a JP Sears kind of comedian to go viral. In my case, I’ve done parodies of entrepreneurs. I have this video called the Secret Confessions of the Gurupreneur, and all I did was create a collection of all the things that make people in our industry roll their eyes. I put them together in a video and acted them out in a way that’s funny and engaging.” 

A lot of entrepreneurs hire a videographer, sit down on the couch, put flowers in a corner, roll the camera and expect a lot of engagement. “But the truth is, nowadays everyone is doing couch videos, sitting down and not having any motion or creativity. There’s a really famous saying in the business world: Show, don’t tell. That’s what you need to do if you want to go viral.” 

Do you want to go viral yourself? Watch and learn from Katya on Instagram. Follow her on livestreamkatya. 

[tweetshareinline tweet=”“To go viral you have to think beyond your ideal customer.” – Katya Varbanova” username=”sigruncom”]

Connect with Katya Varbanova:

Come to Iceland in 2021 for the Selfmade Summit

Join us for 2 transformational days of online business strategy, mindset breakthroughs and meaningful networking guaranteed to propel your business forward…. In one of the most exceptionally beautiful places in the world. 

Early bird tickets are now available for the premier international conference for women entrepreneurs – The Selfmade Summit 2021!

Buy your tickets at today!

Please share, subscribe and review

Thank you for joining me on this episode of the Sigrun Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please share, subscribe and review on Apple Podcasts or Google Play Music so more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Click here to learn how to leave a review, then head over to Apple Podcasts for your chance to win a special thank you gift!

[one_third padding=”0px 0px 0 0px”]Apple Podcasts[/one_third][one_third padding=”0px 0px 0 0px”]Stitcher[/one_third][one_third_last padding=”0px 0px 0 0px”]Google Play[/one_third_last]


Follow ME