Sharan Hegde creates comedic online skits to explain financial concepts - with no financial degree. This formula, that at first glance may not seem to be one that would work, got him nearly 3.3 million followers.

A self-confessed nerd, Sharan spoke to the audience at the 1 Billion Summit about his beginnings and what it took him to get his first 1 million followers. “The reason I started creating video content is because I had to show some kind of extracurricular activity to apply for an MBA at an IVY league school. When I did get accepted, I dropped out and decided to focus on my content creation,” he said.

Sharan said that he started creating the videos during the lockdown. "I only had a window and the sunlight coming in," he said. "I could only shoot from 2 to 4 pm because that was (when there was) the best lighting. I didn’t have any other fancy equipment. This was the set up that I used, which got me my first million followers,” he said.

According to Sharan it’s important to “show off” your knowledge. There are a few people who create content is to educate but many people create content to create a personal brand. “I don’t believe in the fact that your work will talk for you. It’s important to brag about what you know,” he said.

In fact, even though he has no degree in finance, his content is all about it. “If you ask any person in India, whom they feel is an expert in finance, they will give you my name. I tell them I’m not the best and that there are PhD professors who are better than me but because I’m good at showing off, they know me. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best at what you do, it matters if you show off your knowledge the most,” he said.

The love of creating should be the number one reason to creating content, the social media star says. “If you don’t enjoy the process, you will not continue."

Putting in the hours is important, according to Sharan. When it comes to creating short videos, it’s not as easy as it seems, he stressed. “To create a 30 second video, people think I shoot 20 minutes and then edit it down to 30 seconds then watch movies for the rest of the day. That is not true,” he said, adding that it takes nearly a total of nearly 13 hours of work per video. “You need four hours to do research, two hours to script, half an hour to shoot, six hours of editing and half an hour to write a meaningful caption,” he said.

In addition, he needs another four hours to engage with his audience after posting. “It is key, especially in the beginning to answer every person. I did that until it became physically not possible. Engagement is really underrated. It’s the secret to my quick success,” he said.

When it comes to creating viral videos, it’s important for the content to have social currency. “This means the video which is shared must make someone feel cool by sharing it,” he said, adding that the video must be "interesting, surprising and novel.”

Other tips he gave attendees include gamifying their user’s experience, talking about aspirational events and using emotions that are associated with high reshare value – namely awe, humour and anger and to stay away from emotions that are associated with low reshare value – sadness, disgust, violence.

Associating videos with known figures, making the videos have a practical value for the viewers and keeping the audience engaged through good storytelling are other things that he used to engage his audience and to get his first million followers. “You need a hook, if it’s not there in the first few seconds of the video, you will lose your audience,” he said.