Virgin Group's enormously successful content strategy has, over the years, carefully spread curated content which has helped to built the brand into the global powerhouse it is today.
Virgin's highly effective content strategy also encompasses its enormously successful social media presence which pivots around Richard Branson as an iconic entrepreneurial figure and influencer. At the time of the writing of this article, Branson has more than 15,125,000 followers on LinkedIn and 12.4 million on Twitter.
Additionally, Branson has released eight books about his story, further promoting the brand and Branson as a figure.
To get some insight into what makes Virgin's content marketing strategy so successful, we spoke to Greg Rose, head of content at the company, about his career and how Virgin has built the content curation empire it has today.
Rose started his career freelancing; he wrote about music while he studied journalism at university before he graduated and got a job working at a news agency. This experience led him to getting a freelance position with Virgin writing about music in 2009 where he worked his way up to the job he holds today. "I kept pitching additional briefs, which eventually led to a full-time role building up Virgin and Richard Branson's content and social media strategy," Rose says.
"The biggest initial challenge was getting buy–in, as this was before business leaders – or any leaders, really – were considered online influencers," he continues.
But once Richard Branson was convinced of the potential social channels had to build brands and understood digital was a new and effective way to communicate, Virgin's social channels started growing from thousands to millions of followers.
The key to authentically driving engagement is in the word authentic, argues Rose. "It's to present a vision of individuals and brands that is true to their real-life purpose and personalities." Today, people very quickly pick up on what is fake and will disengage, Rose notes. "It's great having a well-designed strategy but if the brand doesn't back it up, its worthless."
And what are the three main attributes to look for when selecting partnerships to diversify your content and create a good collaboration? Rose has the answers. First off, purpose: "Does the partner broadly align with what we believe in and want to make a positive impact upon the world?" Secondly, audience: "Does the partner appeal to people that we would like to reach but are not doing so as effectively as we could?" His final tip is to always look for creativity: "Does the partner want to work on projects in surprising and interesting ways, which push our brand in different directions?"
Rose worked closely with Branson on his latest autobiography, "Finding My Virginity" and says that the long-form nature of the project has been the most satisfying part of working on the book. "Content and digital can be very short-term focussed, so working on a book project over several years and hundreds of thousands of words was really rewarding," Rose said. That and the stories Branson has to share, "Richard has a never-ending supply of unbelievable true tales," he adds.
The biggest hurdle in creating the book was the time that went into it and juggling commitments, says Rose. "Quality writing time together was challenging, but well worth it".
In terms of Rose's personal passions in the industry, he's all about the quality of the end product and the process building up to it, as well as the impact it has. "It's easy to get too fixated upon the delivery mechanisms and not focused enough upon the value of the content itself," he warns.
Finally, we spoke about the differences in content curation for the UK compared to the US.
For Rose, it's about "the instant enthusiasm of collaborators and partners. In London we'd probably be a little more subdued in our excitement, even when we're inwardly thrilled.
"Plus, Z instead of S," he adds.
Join Greg Rose, head of content at Virgin, discussing innovation, purpose and people in your content at Innovation Enterprise's Content Marketing Summit's Day One fireside chat. The event is in New York on December 6–7, 2018. Check out the full agenda and book your tickets HERE.