What Freelancers and Other Professionals Are Reading on LinkedIn

Announcing the Latest LinkedIn Content Insights Quarterly: Q3 2017

November 15, 2017

Content Insights Quarterly

Here’s the third edition of the LinkedIn Content Insights Quarterly. This report uses LinkedIn data to examine what kinds of content LinkedIn members are engaging with on the platform, including the kinds of articles a particular audience is acting with.  

This quarter, we took a look at the articles and topics that caught the eye of freelancers. The number of freelance workers in the U.S. is expected to increase markedly in the next four years — jumping to 9.2 million Americans working in the gig economy by 2021, up from 3.8 million in 2016, accroding to recent research from Intuit & Emergent. With this rapid growth, it's becoming more and more important for businesses to understand this distinct cohort of the professional population.  

And finally, we tracked one of today’s hottest topics — artificial intelligence— to gauge what articles about AI are capturing LinkedIn members’ attention. We also find that posts by and about high-profile CEOs, such as Richard Branson and Elon Musk, generate strong engagement on LinkedIn.  (View our reports from the first and second quarters).

Audience of the Quarter: Top Topics That Engage Freelancers

Based on the top 10 topics that freelancers engaged with on LinkedIn in the third quarter, they are using the platform to interact with career and skills-oriented content. They’re reading about freelance writing, search engine marketing, operating systems, graphic design, and other skills that can further their career. In how they’re using LinkedIn, freelancers seem to have a clear understanding of LinkedIn’s role in facilitating the new “gig economy” and the availability of always-on learning on the platform.

  1. Freelance Writing
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  3. Network-Attached Storage
  4. Stata
  5. DOS
  6. Operating Systems
  7. Graphic Design
  8. Persona
  9. Adobe Photoshop
  10. WordPress

Audience of the Quarter: Top Articles That Engage Freelancers

Among the top five articles engaging freelancers were two on job skills: “7 critical skills for the jobs of the future” and “Ten unmistakable signs you should be working for yourself.” Freelancers also appear to be free thinkers. Two articles in the top 10 delved into alternative energy, including one on solar power and the top article on Volkwagen’s new electric Microbus. And freelancers are apparently interested in what the free spirit and entrepreneur Richard Branson has to say with two of his articles landing in the top 10. 

The Volkswagen Microbus is officially coming back and it’ll be electric — Benjamin Zhang

Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince Harry post job ad on LinkedIn — BBC

7 critical skills for the jobs of the future —Raya Bidshahri

Ten unmistakable signs you should be working for yourself — Liz Ryan

Celebrating Yvonne Kershaw — the first female pilot to captain a jumbo jet —Jack Preston

Hurricane Irma —Richard Branson

Psychologically scarred millennials are killing countless industries from napkins to Applebee’s — here are the businesses they like the least — Kate Taylor

Dyslexia and exams —Richard Branson

The secret to beating depression might be changing how you think about your thoughts —Drake Baer

This research might make you rethink your social media habits —Emma Haak

All-girl engineer team invents solar-powered tent for the homeless —Brittany Levine Beckman

Topic of the Quarter: Artificial Intelligence

While the topic of artificial intelligence is gaining momentum, it is a not a new concept. For instance, AI is central to the 1968 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey." Founded in 2003, LinkedIn has become an essential vehicle for business people to explore the topic of A! — now and the future. Among the AI articles that garnered the highest engagement on LinkedIn in the past quarter is one that poses the question, “Artificial Intelligence: Will it help or hurt mankind?” Other top-ranked articles pondering the topic explored its impact on businesses ranging from Coca-Cola to Microsoft to Google.

Facebook shut down its AI after it invented its own language — By NTD Television

Microsoft just officially listed AI as one of its top priorities, replacing mobile — Jordan Novet

Artificial intelligence (AI): Will it help or hurt mankind? —Biplab Chakraborty

The business of artificial intelligence — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

The amazing ways Coca Cola uses artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data to drive success — Bernard Marr

Top Topics*

While the top seven topics on LinkedIn in the third quarter remained essentially the same for the third quarter compared with the second quarter, there were three intriguing new entries into the top 10 this quarter: “photography,” “iPhone,” and “video.” iPhone’s charging into the top 10 is not surprising, given that Apple began accepting orders for the new iPhone 8 early in the third quarter. As visuals become more important to marketing, it’s also not shocking that photography and video have cracked the top 10, especially with LinkedIn officially launching the availability of video in the feed late in the second quarter. 

  1. Leadership
  2. Management
  3. Business
  4. Sales
  5. Start-Ups
  6. Finance
  7. Interviewing
  8. Photography
  9. iPhone
  10. Video

Top Growth Topics**

With the rise of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, change is inescapable. Technological change is a reality and it seems to be occurring ever faster. So, it makes sense that “change readiness” is the topic that showed the biggest spike in engagement in the third quarter on the LinkedIn platform. Almost everybody in business, from CEOs to line employees, are dealing with change on a daily basis — and that’s not likely to change any time soon.   

  1. Change Readiness
  2. Geomodeling
  3. Direct Banking
  4. Basin Modeling
  5. Trade Station
  6. Digital Cable
  7. Industry Analyst Relations
  8. Document Outsourcing
  9. Structured Trade  
  10. Foodservice Distribution

Top Articles***

As the unemployment rate continues to dip, businesspeople feel more comfortable looking for better jobs, and businesses are looking to hire and retain the most productive employees. The articles in the third quarter top 10 reflect this environment with one on retaining loyal employees and another delving into Google’s research on building internal teams. Additionally, two highly engaging articles, both featuring Suzy Welch, dove into interview etiquette with how to respond when an interviewer asks, “What’s your salary?” — a question that is now illegal in California. And there were also three articles examining how tech CEOs handled specific situations; two of those articles featured Tesla’s Elon Musk. 

Suzy Welch: What to say when a job interviewer asks, ‘What’s your current salary?’ — Marguerite Ward

Elon Musk’s brilliant email rule at Tesla — Frank Chung 

9 things you’ll regret in 10 years — Mariya Zavolokina for BrightSide.me

Google thought they knew how to create the perfect team. Their research said otherwise — Michael Schneider

Psychologically scarred millennials are killing countless industries from napkins to Applebee’s — here are the businesses they like the least —Kate Taylor

Elon Musk promises to implement customer suggestion just 24 minutes after it appears on Twitter — Justin Bariso

How you treat your employees will determine the fate of your company —Brigette Hyacinth

Uber’s new CEO just sent an amazing email to employees — and taught a major lesson in emotional intelligence —Justin Bariso

Never push loyal employees to the point they no longer care —Brigette Hyacinth

Suzy Welch: What to say when an interviewer asks, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ —Maguerite Ward

For a deep dive into how you can deploy content marketing on LinkedIn, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing today.


*Top Topics: These are the topics that have the most engagement on the LinkedIn platform; engagement is defined as any of the following actions: click, like, share, comment.

**Top Growth Topics are the tagged content topics that have shown the largest increase in quarter over quarter engagement.

***Top Articles are ranked by total number of engagements (click, like, share, comment) with that article in the quarter.