Lessons from LinkedIn's Most Followed Man

In 2012, Richard Branson set a new record at LinkedIn, becoming the first Publisher to surpass 1M followers on his Publisher articles.

Today he is almost at 10 million followers - almost double his rival Bill Gates. 

So how does a dyslexic, thrill-seeking high school dropout top the likes of Barrack Obama, Bill Gates, Tony Robins and some of the world's most powerful people? Here's how the man himself summed it up;

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

The Virgin brand has benefited from Branson’s personal reputation, open communication on social networks and achievements as a social leader. Here are some of the key things I've noticed he does well:

Show Personality

Richard Branson knows how to have fun and infuses it into everything he’s involved with; it's easy to see what he stands for. He's famous for the priceless culture he has built in his various companies and his outrageous publicity stunts. Simply put, he stands out from the crowd.

Focus on Your Brand

Too often businesses get caught up in what the competition is doing, or what people are saying who might not actually be the right customers. Know your brand first, and then find the customers - you can't help everyone.

Well, you can but I don't believe that you will ever be a market leader with this approach. The more niche you are, the more relevant you are, the more targeted you can be with your marketing. 

“In terms of competition, I suggest that you focus on what you do first. Rather than getting sucked into a bitter feud with competitors, it’s much better to let your adversaries waste their energy fighting each other. Virgin America didn’t get distracted by turf battles and name-calling; we instead focused on building a community of customers who loved Virgin’s fresh, edgy vibe.


Any successful person who is at all decent knows that it’s their social responsibility to help those in need and do some good for the world. For those who believe in karma, this makes a fair amount of sense.

Despite his relatively humble beginnings, Branson began giving back to the community at the age of 17. He did this by starting his own charity and he has pledged money to countless others since.

He is known particularly for his educational work in Africa, as well as pledging three billion dollars over the next decade to go towards reducing global warming.

Break the Rules

Richard Branson hasn’t been successful by following along with what everyone else does. He has learned that innovation is one of the crucial keys to success, he uses his past mistakes and intuition to guide him and engages in trial and error when it comes to new ventures.

It's only in pushing the boundaries that we, as entrepreneurs, can innovate and unfortunately our education system isn't built to help cultivate this type of mindset.

One of my favourite quotes by Richard Branson sums it up perfectly;

You don’t learn to walk by following rules — you learn to walk by doing. When you are learning to walk, you can’t read and you don’t follow rules. You learn to walk by falling over, getting back up, and trying again.

Get Started - take action!!

Too many bury their heads in the sand instead of getting on with it, making mistakes and accelerating their learning. Richard Branson has applied this philosophy to all of his ventures, social media is certainly no exception.

Interesting to note that while Richard Branson has more followers, Bill Gates was actually ranked higher by LinkedIn; mainly due to the engagement of his articles. This is what LinkedIn had to say about their selection criteria;

We relied on a formula that measured a host of criteria to determine writers who were making a mark in their industries: engagement around content (especially comments, which — thanks to a lack of anonymity on LinkedIn — are unusually strong); growth of followers tied to publishing; number of times the writer had been featured in a channel in their area of expertise; and how often the contributor had been chosen as an Editors' Pick. 

Editors' Pick is usually reserved for those posts which are the most engaging and indicative of a story that is worth paying attention to right now. Click here to check it out.

Writing skills have very little to do with success here, the key is to be fearless in who you are, stand-out from the crowd and having an opinion. Build your personal brand and be unique; all evidence indicates that's what creates engagement. 

Interesting statistics released by LinkedIn in this article copied in below ,this highlights the power of publishing your articles on LinkedIn over any other website especially for those in B2B industries or Professional Services.

Posts on LinkedIn see 6x the views from people outside of your immediate network; it's definitely the platform to publish on. Share your perspective, build your professional brand, and let your voice be heard.

Good luck to Richard Branson on hitting the 10 million follower world record soon! 

Share your thoughts, insights and articles that may be relevant in the comments below - thank you for participating! 


About the Author

Nathanial Bibby is the Managing Director of Bibby Consulting Group who are the leaders in LinkedIn for business training and B2B lead generation campaigns in Australia and South East Asia. 

If you're interested in how Bibby Consulting Group can assist you with your digital marketing and social media strategy, please visit:  www.bibbyconsultinggroup.com.au

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