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How Richard Branson became the million-follower man

27 Dec 2012

Sir Richard Branson set a new record last month, becoming the first LinkedIn Influencer to cross the one million follower mark.

The Virgin founder was one of the charter contributors in Influencer, a program launched in September this year, giving a select group of thought leaders the ability to write long-form content on LinkedIn and have their words and sharing activity be followed by our 187 million members

With over six million total following relationships and nearly 1,400 articles posted, Branson has emerged in a league of his own.

He now has twice the number of followers as his nearest competitor. That thought-leader? Barack Obama.

So how does a dyslexic, thrill-seeking high school dropout top the president of the United States, the prime minister of the UK, CEOs of some of the most important companies and non-profits and a collection of the top business book authors and speakers?

It helps to have a formula for success that in his most recent book Branson sums up in three sentences:

“Have passion for what you do; believe in yourself and your product and your customer; persevere; delegate; listen. Have fun… Do good.”

With that kind of worldview, who wouldn’t want to follow him?

Like many Influencers, Branson has been posting about entrepreneurship, paths to success, and the keys to balancing good work and a good life

His five tips for starting a successful business has nearly 500,000 pageviews; his 197-word article suggesting that happiness is the best measure of success drew close to 3,500 comments.

Further LinkedIn data shows that he’s popular with everyone from entrepreneurs to HR workers and in industries ranging from tech to construction. The only continent where he doesn’t have a single follower is Antarctica.

But passing the million mark is also an an important milestone for LinkedIn as well as Branson.

In less than two months, articles like IDEO CEO Tim Brown’s look at designing vs planning a life or former Citi honcho Sallie Krawcheck’s lessons from being fired are generating hundreds of comments from the professional community almost as soon as they are posted

Many more pieces regularly get circulated through social and traditional media.

Professionals from around the world are coming to LinkedIn to read, share, and exchange business insights directly with our influencers and with each other. And it seems they are just getting started: Every week they add new Influencers that you can follow.

And finally, if you know anyone in Antarctica looking for professional guidance, please let them know Richard Branson can be found on LinkedIn. And that he’s already working on his second million.

Slides here

Daniel Roth - LinkedIn