Welcome to the Watercooler

The content driving the professional conversation in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America

December 11, 2019

For as long as workplaces have dispensed chilled drinking water, there have been watercooler moments: the points in time where colleagues are temporarily freed from their focus on the next meeting or deadline and free to chat briefly about what’s entertaining them, what’s surprising them, and what’s on their mind.

For years, these watercooler moments were synonymous with must-see TV: that one-liner from last night’s episode of Friends or Seinfeld; whether you really believed that thing they just showed on The X Files actually happened; just how bad that refereeing decision in Sunday’s televised game had been.

Today, watercooler moments are changing. They’re more likely to involve the content and ideas shared on social media. In fact, the arrival of social platforms means that watercooler moments no longer have to involve co-workers bumping into one another over a drink. They happen all the time, through social platforms.

LinkedIn, in particular, has become the global watercooler of the business world. It’s where a rapidly growing number of professionals find content, consume content, share content and discuss content. Views on content in the LinkedIn feed have jumped 60% in the last year. So, what are these professionals talking about when gathered around that virtual water tower?

The Watercooler is our new blog series for EMEA and Latin America, which lets you eavesdrop on the conversations professionals are having across these regions. For this first edition of The Watercooler, we’ve identified the LinkedIn posts driving the greatest engagement during October in each of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We’ve picked out the key trends and what they say about the mindset, motivations and interests of audiences in these different markets. And we’ve collected some top tips for anyone aiming to drive similar levels of engagement for their LinkedIn content.

Grab your refillable water bottle and let’s see what’s shaping the conversation.

The Watercooler for Europe

The posts driving greatest engagement on LinkedIn in Europe are:

  1. It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  2. You Get The Talent That You Pay for!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  3. The Iceberg of Ignorance
    by Frank Zijlstra

  4. Integrity is Everything!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  5. Positive culture is a major key to success
    by Daniel Haley

  6. The day my husband died…
    by Kirsten White

  7. Good Bosses APPRECIATE their Employees!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  8. This phrase will kill your business!!
    by Gavin Dawson

  9. Carlsberg unveils ‘world’s first’ paper beer bottle
    by Phoebe French

  10. Why Employee Experience is Important
    by Jan Tegze

Lessons from Europe’s Watercooler:

Our Watercooler for Europe shows how content around leadership, workplace culture and employee experience are powerful drivers of engagement on LinkedIn. Insights on what constitutes inspiring leadership resonate whether the reader is in a leadership position themselves, or simply feels the effects of others’ leadership styles. Shared experiences help to drive discussion, and the most popular posts translate these into actionable insights and tips to apply to a reader’s own working life.

Europe also provides evidence of the power of international influencers on LinkedIn. Brigette Hyacinth, a blogger and author based in Trinidad and Tobago contributes four of the region’s top ten posts – and has a similar impact in our other regions as well. It’s testament to her concise and insightful writing style, and her ability to focus posts on aspects of workplace culture that are particularly important to LinkedIn members: fair rewards for talent, soft skills and company culture in particular.

Besides globally popular posts, LinkedIn members in Europe demonstrate strong interest in sustainability, as shown by the presence in the top ten of a post describing Carlsberg’s paper bottle innovation.

The Watercooler for Middle East and North Africa

The posts driving greatest engagement on LinkedIn in the Middle East and North Africa are:

  1. You Get The Talent That You Pay for!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  2. It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  3. Good Bosses APPRECIATE their Employees!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  4. Integrity is Everything!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  5. Positive culture is a major key to success
    by Daniel Haley

  6. Why Employee Experience is Important
    by Jan Tegze

  7. The day my husband died…
    by Kirsten White

  8. The Iceberg of Ignorance
    by Frank Zijlstra

  9. Leaders win trust and build people
    by JainderSingh Negi

  10. This phrase will kill your business!! 
    by Gavin Dawson


Lessons from the Middle East and North Africa’s Watercooler:

The influence of Brigette Hyacinth is felt even more strongly in the Middle East and North Africa, where she contributed the top four posts by engagement for October.

The appeal of several other posts crosses over into this region as well. Kirsten White’s harrowing story of the day she almost lost her husband shows how conversation on LinkedIn is far from limited to business – it’s driven by people in business opening up and demonstrating authenticity. This is an environment where human beings share the experiences that have shaped them both as professionals and people.

The Middle East and North Africa Watercooler may follow global trends in content engagement, but it also shows the appeal of local perspectives on these issues. JainderSingh Negi’s post on how leaders win trust by building others touched on many of the same themes as those of Brigette Hyacinth – but did so in a punchy, combative style that resonated strongly with the experiences of members in the region.

The Watercooler for Sub-Saharan Africa

The posts driving greatest engagement on LinkedIn in Sub-Saharan Africa are:

  1. You Get The Talent That You Pay for!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  2. It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  3. Integrity is Everything!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  4. Good Bosses APPRECIATE their Employees!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  5. How I cemented my friendship with Aliko Dangote
    by Bill Gates

  6. Positive culture is a major key to success
    by Daniel Haley

  7. Why Employee Experience is Important
    by Jan Tegze

  8. This phrase will kill your business!!
    by Gavin Dawson

  9. The Iceberg of Ignorance
    by Frank Zijlstra

  10. What Coach Taught Me!
    by Jay Lewis

Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa’s Watercooler:

The Top Ten for Sub-Saharan Africa provides further evidence of how watercoolers mix global content trends with local interest – and also of the power of authentic, personal stories. Bill Gate’s post discussing his friendship with the Nigerian businessman and investor, Aliko Dangote, is a beautifully written example. It tells the story of two similar men from different backgrounds who come together over a shared passion for improving health and education. In presenting the case for using enriched staple foods to overcome malnutrition, it touches on a priority issue for the region and does so in a deeply engaging way.

The Watercooler for Latin America

The posts driving greatest engagement on LinkedIn in Latin America are:

  1. "Coringa"​: o filme que revela uma sociedade incapaz de lidar com o diferente
    by Bruna Cosenza

  2. It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  3. Em um mundo com tanta exigência de bem-estar e alta performance, "Coringa"​ é um filme necessário.
    by Beatriz Zanzini

  4. 13 Termos em inglês que os brasileiros usam e os gringos não entendem
    by Odair Silva

  5. A empresa que controla até os pequenos detalhes, mas que ignora o elefante na sala
    by William Morishigue

  6. You Get The Talent That You Pay for!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  7. Você não precisa de experiência para assumir seu primeiro cargo de liderança
    by Ivan Chagas

  8. Por que a saúde mental no ambiente de trabalho é importante?
    by Cândida Aline

  9. Integrity is Everything!
    by Brigette Hyacinth

  10. O líder que todos nós esperamos: que cobra, mas que nos ajuda a crescer
    by Cicero Andrade

Lessons from Latin America’s Watercooler:

Latin America’s watercooler conversation follows its own distinct pattern and rhythms – and does so in both local style and local language. Of all the regions that we analysed, it has both the most distinct interests and the greatest appetite for localisation. The post ranked number four for engagement, by Odair Silva, highlights this, pointing out how 13 terms confuse conversation between different cultures. In all, seven of the top ten posts are written in Spanish or Portuguese. The only exception are the international blockbusters created by Brigette Hyacinth.

It’s not just language that distinguishes Latin America’s tastes in content, however. Writers are bold in leveraging popular culture to make important points about diversity, mental health and leadership. Two of the top ten are discussions of the film, Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Another draws leadership inspiration from Jorge Jesus, manager of Brazilian football club Flamengo.

How to create a watercooler moment

Despite the differences from region to region, there are consistent characteristics of the most engaging content for professionals on LinkedIn. Top-performing posts are usually concise, with the sweet spot for length between 200 and 600 words for most regions. The exception to this is Latin America, where most posts in the top ten are significantly longer, over 1,000 words in some cases. All are highly visual, with striking lead images that resonate when the posts appear in the LinkedIn feed. In many cases, these lead images incorporate a telling quote or a graphic that summarises the message of the post and captures attention.

The LinkedIn feed is where watercooler moments happen. It’s an environment for ideas – but it’s also a visual space where creative use of imagery and bold headlines are the key to capturing the conversation. The posts that get people talking and sharing know how to use these assets to stand out.