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Richard Branson first to have 1 million LinkedIn followers

Sir Richard Branson has become the first person on LinkedIn to get 1 million followers as one of the social network’s “thought leaders.”

The English entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group reached the feat Friday morning. He currently has nearly twice as many followers as President Obama, the second most followed person on LinkedIn with more than 506,000 followers.

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The accomplishment is noteworthy for Branson but even more important for LinkedIn.

The social network introduced its “LinkedIn Influencer” feature -- which lets certain individuals have followers without having to add people as “connections” -- last month. Having one of its “influencers” reach a million followers gives LinkedIn more credibility, considering that many of its rivals -- Facebook, Twitter and Google+ included -- already had ways for famous people to have followers without having to become friends with strangers.

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But unlike with its rivals, LinkedIn users have to apply to become Thought Leaders, and in the application, you have to specify what types of things you’d be writing about if you were recognized as an influencer. As a result, many of LinkedIn’s thought leaders are CEOs and politicians.

“Professionals from around the world are coming to LinkedIn to read, share and exchange business insights directly with our influencers and with each other,” the social network said.

In a blog about the accomplishment, LinkedIn said that the key to Branson’s social network success has been the way he uses his account, which is by writing posts about entrepreneurship and how to live a good life.

“Our data shows that he’s popular with everyone from entrepreneurs to HR workers and in industries ranging from tech to construction,” the blog post says. “The only continent where he doesn’t have a single follower is Antarctica.”

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To celebrate Branson’s accomplishment, LinkedIn said it will do an in-person Q&A; with the entrepreneur. LinkedIn members can submit their questions by leaving them as a comment on this post or tweeting at the @LinkedIn account using the #Branson1m hashtag.

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