Digital Trends from the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Annual Meeting
Some things at the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, are the same from year-to-year - from the snowy streets and freezing temperatures to the delicious hot chocolate, strict security and breathtaking mountain views. The digital landscape at Davos is less predictable, however, and provides a good benchmark each January for how communications and marketing have evolved.
This year has been no different, with clear developments from 2016 in how both companies and individuals are now communicating online. Five trends that stood out this year include:
1. Facebook Live goes mainstream
Facebook Live had just launched around this time last year and was only available to a select group of partners. WEF lead the way with a series of influencer interviews streamed on mobile. This year, Facebook Live was ubiquitous and people used Facebook's API to create even more interactive experiences. Not only did WEF and Facebook both have Live studios on the ground, but Reuters produced a daily "Davos Today" live stream, the UN Foundation did a daily #SDGLive show, Accenture built a lounge where they live-streamed panels, and brands and individual influencers went live on their respective Facebook pages to share their discussions. Our own Global COO Matthew Harrington went live from Davos to discuss the state of trust with humanitarian, author and media personality, Zainab Salbi.
2. 360 joins the party
WEF introduced Live 360 for a handful of high-profile sessions this year, giving viewers the opportunity to not only listen to the conversations, but click around to see inside the highly secure Congress Centre. For example, WEF used Live 360 to stream a discussion with Matt Damon and Gary White on water management and a session with Shakira, who received a humanitarian award at this year's Annual Meeting. Additionally, companies like EY shared 360° photos to help bring Davos to life for their followers.
3. Executives were more comfortable on social
There was an obvious uptick in executives' use of personal social media this year, moving beyond content on corporate pages to share their takeaways on personal channels. PayPal* CEO Dan Schulman shared earned media, behind-the-scenes photos and live video on his Facebook page. PwC* partnered with Medium to create a hub for Davos content authored by the firm's executives. The posts were cross-promoted on the executive's LinkedIn channels and PwC's US Chairman, Tim Ryan, and Global Chairman, Bob Moritz, also shared photos from WEF on Twitter.
4. Micro-content had a moment
Influencers and their staff alike used Instagram Stories and Snapchat to document their Davos experiences. From snapping Swiss snacks like jelly-filled pretzel donuts to late-night dance parties and Davos' infamous piano bar, micro content had a real moment at Davos this year and showed the lighter - and perhaps more notorious - side of the Forum's Annual Meeting.
5. Quote cards ruled the day
Short, snackable statements in the form of quote cards were more prevalent than ever this year. WEF started sharing quote cards on social in the lead up to the Annual Meeting and continued throughout the week. Media organizations and companies like Tata Consultancy Services and Bank of America also created quote cards to share key takeaways and position their executives as thought leaders.
According to KPMG's WEF Live Tracker, attendees generated more than 220,000 social media posts this week. That is a lot of content in a very short window of time, meaning that there is additional pressure on companies and executives to determine how to stand out in such a crowded space. It has never been more true that "every company is a media company." As social media adoption continues to rise and new channels and content formats are introduced, organizations and top executives have more opportunities than ever before to engage directly with their stakeholders, whether at Davos or beyond.
Marcia Newbert is a senior account supervisor on the Digital Corporate team in Washington D.C. and Edelman's knowledge manager for digital executive positioning.