The Water Cooler: What Decision Makers In Your Industry Are Reading on LinkedIn

April 29, 2019

What Decision Makers Read on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is becoming the digital water cooler for businesses around the world. There are 610 million members on LinkedIn, and they are reading and engaging with articles on the platform.

Each of those 610 million members experiences a different LinkedIn. Your feed is different from your neighbor who is in a different industry, because you have different connections and divergent business interests. You see different content in your feed than anyone else on the platform.

That fact, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t similarities in the content you and others engage with on LinkedIn — especially if they work in the same industry as you. In this month’s Water Cooler, we take a deep dive into six separate industries to examine the different content that decision makers in those industries were consuming compared to other sectors of the economy.

Read on, and you’ll find the top five articles professionals were engaging with in March in six distinct industries: financial services, government/education, manufacturing/industrial, oil & energy, professional services, and staffing.

Financial Services & Insurance

The top two articles in this sector for the month of March are about the habits of successful people — perhaps not a surprising development for such competitive industries as financial services and insurance. The top article that professionals in this arena engaged with, “Stop Asking ‘How Are You?’ Harvard Researcher Say This is How Successful People Make Small Talk,” offers advice on how to be more successful in starting conversations, which can be a valuable skill in sales-driven industries such as these. The second article, “13 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day,” offers surprising and actionable tips on how executives such as Andy Grove and Warren Buffet have approached their day-to-day work lives.  

  1. Stop Asking 'How Are You?' Harvard Researchers Say This is How Successful People Make Small Talk By Gary Burnison, CNBC
  2. 13 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day By Dr. Travis Bradberry
  3. Nightmare for the JPMorgan Bankers who Spent All Their Bonuses By Sarah Butcher, eFinancialCareers
  4. Boeing 737 Max: What You Should Know if You're Booked on a Flight By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today
  5. 4 Reasons to Not Renew Your Costco Membership By Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool


The top five articles that government and education professionals were engaging with in March revealed an economic sector dealing with transformation. The top article, “UK Govt Announces New International Education Strategy,” exists at the nexus of government and education: It’s a story about how the United Kingdom is attempting to continue to attract international college students as Brexit looms. Another article, “Meet the English Professor Creating the Billion-Dollar College Of The Future,” showed how a small non-profit college in New Hampshire was borrowing the techniques of for-profit universities to attract students. Additionally, two other articles in the top five examined the impact of diversity.

  1. UK Govt Announces New International Education Strategy The Pie News
  2. Women of Color Get Less Support at Work. Here’s How Managers Can Change That. By Zuhairah Washington and Laura Morgan Roberts, Harvard Business Review
  3. Strategies to Help Maximize Giving and Reduce Taxes in 2019 Schwab Charitable
  4. Black Entrepreneur Launches the Most Diverse and Inclusive Luxury Skintone Line of Women's Shoes
  5. Meet the English Professor Creating the Billion-Dollar College Of The Future By Susan Adams, Forbes


While many of the articles on LinkedIn could be classified as thought leadership, news also plays a big role on the platform. All five articles that decision makers in the manufacturing/industrial sector were engaging with last month explored stories in the news, such as the break-up of DowDuPont, a Saudi Aramco acquisition, and a new leadership team at Newmont, a mining company.

  1. DowDuPont Is About to Break Up. Here’s What the Parts Are Worth. By Al Root, Barron’s
  2. Newmont Announces Executive Leadership Team for Combination with Goldcorp Businesswire
  3. Saudi Aramco to Buy SABIC in $69 Billion Chemicals Megadeal By Marwa Rashad, Rania El Gamal, and Hadeel Al Sayegh, Reuters
  4. Commodity Prospects Of Rio Tinto Versus BHP Billiton Seeking Alpha
  5. DowDuPont Approves Creation of New Dow By Rob Lenihan, The Street

Oil & Energy

In March professionals in the oil and energy section were engaging with articles that contained actionable information that could potentially give them an edge over the competition. For instance, the article featured an interactive map of oil reserves around the globe. Other articles in the top five, such as Shell Aims to Become World’s Largest Electricity Company or A Closer Look at Schlumberger's Deal With Rockwell Automation, gave oil and energy professionals insight into a competitor’s strategy.  

  1. Visualizing the Countries With the Most Oil Reserves By Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist
  2. Shell Aims to Become World’s Largest Electricity Company By Ed Crooks and Anjli Raval, Financial Review
  3. EOG Resources Inc. Expresses Concern about Eagle Ford's Longtime Future By Jessica Corso, San Antonio Business Journal
  4. Shale on the Brink of M&A as Oil Majors Flex Muscles in Permian By Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg
  5. A Closer Look at Schlumberger's Deal With Rockwell Automation Forbes

Professional Services

LinkedIn members in the professional services sector predominantly engaged with articles about leadership and business culture. In fact, the top three articles were about these subjects. The other two articles in the top five, one which discussed the potential impact of Google on the travel industry and the reaction to the impact of Brexit, explored disruption.

  1. Great Leadership Isn’t about Control. It's about Empowering People. By Brigette Hyacinth
  2. Work for Someone who Appreciates your Ideas, Loyalty and Hard Work. By Brigette Hyacinth
  3. Do You Have a 'Work Wife?' These Founders Think You Should By Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, Fortune
  4. Google's New Hotel Booking Site Threatens Expedia, Airbnb and Others By Raini Hamdi, Skift
  5. Petition: Revoke Article 50 and Remain in the EU. Parliament.UK


The top five articles engaging professionals in the staffing industry showed a sector laser focused on their responsibilities, i.e., finding people jobs. Two articles (“Would You be Happy Being Interviewed by a Robot?“ and “Recruiters Are Struggling to Source Candidates – This is Why…") examined changes in the industry. The final article in the top five, “The Recruitment Equivalent of Ole Gunnar Solskjær,” used the hook of the world’s most popular sports team, soccer club Manchester United, to show that staffing professionals aren’t all business, all the time.

  1. UK Unemployment Falls Again BBC News
  2. America's Best Recruiting Firms 2019 By Vicky Valet, Forbes
  3. Would You be Happy Being Interviewed by a Robot? By Maddy Savage, BBC News  
  4. Recruiters Are Struggling to Source Candidates – This is Why… By Plamen Ivanoff  
  5. The Recruitment Equivalent of Ole Gunnar Solskjær By Plamen Ivanoff  

Lessons for Salespeople

Decision makers want personalized content on LinkedIn, where the number of sessions on the platform has grown 30% year-over-year, fueled by record levels of engagement in the feed. LinkedIn’s State of Sales report found that decision makers are more likely to consider a brand if a sales professional understands their business needs (96%) and provides personalized communications (93%). The point is decision makers, no matter what their industry, want content that speaks to them and their particular needs.  

The lesson for salespeople is to share and to create content on LinkedIn that is tailored to their prospects’ interests and needs. You wouldn’t give a presentation that isn’t customized to your audience’s desires. You should look at LinkedIn the same way: Share content your target audience craves.

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