WEF Davos 2016: Talk is cheap

Update 2015-01-17: WEF Davos 2016: Top 100 CEO bloggers
Social media has been around for a while. Yes, various social network platforms have come and gone, like Bebo. Founded in 2006 to compete with Facebook, it was relaunched in December 2014, but has not really been heard from since.

Is social media for breakfast pictures or milestones?

Seems like a valid question, but this is also a time of growing digital fatigue.

We can share anything online. Unfortunately, this takes away opportunities for having a real conversation with a real person.

How does WEF Davos cope with its fans’ digital fatigue? Yes, WEF Davos continues to tweet furiously and madly update Facebook.

BUT, is anybody listening; do you care? We investigated this a bit further. See also:

WEF Davos in DrKPI’s Benchmark Test: Survey says…!
WEF Davos 2015: Top 100 CEO bloggers
Facebook, viral marketing or #wef15 – why benchmark?

We all know that one of most CEOs’ undoubted skills is burnishing their own profile

For starters, the World Economic Forum provides CEOs a great podium to push their pet projects.

For instance, in 2015 Eric Schmidt talked about his Google Search and #endtrafficking project. But just like the Google Flu Trends and earthquake monitoring fads, Mr Schmidt has now moved on from #endtrafficking.

Last year, Marissa Mayer from Yahoo even managed to curate an image as a fashionista, hanging out with Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue. Anna Wintour is definitely not in Davos this year. Marissa Mayer might make it to Davos, unless she is ousted by her board of directors beforehand.

But how well does WEF Davos foster dialogue? Does it go beyond those attending?

1. Houston, we have a problem

Klaus Schwab states in interviews that WEF Davos’ strength lies in bringing together varying opinions. In turn, he feels that one also needs to listen to those with different opinions.

With social media, this means you must monitor your blog’s commenting system carefully. While any comment should be reviewed before being published to avoid spam, this work should be done quickly.

Incidentally, WEF Davos rarely if ever gets a blog comment. This would suggest that its resonance with the public (i.e. readers) and delegates is not that wonderful. In such a situation we must monitor comments carefully, release them in a timely fashion, and most importantly, answer the questions raised by our readers.

But as the example below shows, there seems to be a bug in the system, which fails to publish reader input. The comment was left here: WEF provides the hashtags

Mr Schwab talks about engaging and dialoguing often. I am pretty certain that he is very serious about this. Unfortunately, his social media and content marketing staff seem to fail him.

But DrKPI is ready to come to their rescue if they would just ask. Besides, this entry shows that WEF is failing the engagement challenge, but its staff seem to know that better than anyone else. That is to say, whenever they talk about their social media efforts, you would think everything is just peachy-keen.

Of course, arrogance or too much self-confidence is probably a form of ignorance… or vice versa?

Whatever it is, Davos 2016 must do better in this regard. Otherwise, the attention it gets through traditional media will not be carried further by the people – an important factor in getting things done after the meeting closes.

3 things we learned from WEF Davos about Social Media

When these three things happen, be quick and fix the problem – or face the consequences. Whatever you do, DON’T continue in the same vein!

1. Comment ended up in the spam inbox and got lost, deleted or whatever: Possibly an explanation, BUT not an excuse!

2. You just ignore the comment: If you want dialogue, this is a non-starter!

3. You delete the comment: A HUGE no-no if you listen to Klaus Schwab, who wants to foster dialogue and have different opinions be heard!

Whatever the reason, none of the above is excusable. Surely, it stops any conversation from ever starting.

Experience: I left a comment (see above). It is still in the list of ‘to be moderated’ comments on the Disqus platform, which is what WEF uses.

Of course, any true blogger could have told the WEF folks, as I did a while back, that using Disqus is not a great move. That is, if you want to foster more dialogue.

But WEF probably does not know any better.

2. We all make mistakes, but failing to learn is plain stupid

For the last eight to ten years, experts have pointed out that in Web 2.0, broadcasting is out. Instead, engagement with your fans, clients, enemies, and so forth, is in.

“Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution” is the theme for WEF Davos 2016, in addition to other interesting and very important topics. The WEF has used social media extensively for quite a few years.

But has WEF continued fine-tuning its social media use effectively?

I began monitoring these efforts in 2008. They were quite good then, and got better by 2011, but since…

If you look at either the 2016 agenda pages or WEF events the comments are always closed when the blog entry is posted (see below).

Do we have dialogue here? Or is WEF Davos 2016 once again following the classic broadcasting model?
Tweet updates come fast and furious, you can barely keep up. Over the months leading up to this year’s meeting, no dialogue has happened. Neither on its blog about Davos, nor any other channel.

Is this how one overcomes the audience’s possible social media fatigue to foster engagement?

We are barely a week out from WEF Davos 2016. Unfortunately, people are not discussing the event. “How can that be?” I ask. Or is the theme too abstract and buzzword like for many of us?

Mind you, cities with few or no cars will certainly look very different from what we experience now, no matter what city we find ourselves in. So the theme chosen by the WEF Davos 2016 organisers seems an important one and timely as well.

So why such paltry resonance on its blogs and social networks? What might be going wrong?

WEF Davos 2016: 3 simple checks that show the problem

It is not what you show or want me to believe (also called impression management). Instead the focus is on what you do. For instance:

– How well does WEF Davos manage to engage its readers on its blogs? Check: Reader Comments.
FAILED.

– Do your moderators do a good job and release the comments? Check: Cases I know – NOPE not done well.
FAILED.

– Do content authors / posters write replies that give readers added value? Maybe, but we cannot find ONE REPLY!
FAILED.

Incidentally, WEF Davos rarely if ever gets a blog comment. This would suggest that its resonance with the public (i.e. readers) and delegates is not that wonderful.

What do you think is the reason for this?

Does no one care?

Davos 2015 had a set of hashtags. For Davos 2016, 10 days before the event I still could not find a blog entry on WEF telling me what to use. Seems unfortunate.

What is your take?

– What do you do to fight the possible social media fatigue of your target audience?
– What would you recommend WEF Davos do to foster greater engagement on their conference blog?
– How do you deal with this data deluge from Davos via Facebook and Twitter accounts?
– What would you recommend to a novice (ropes to skip)?

Incidentally, if you look at the tweets this last weekend (January 9 and 10, 2016) and WEF’s Twitter account, there is no apparent strategy regarding content or getting people hyped for WEF Davos 2016. What is going on, is a robot posting? Just watching the updates go by makes me feel dizzy.

Urs E. Gattiker

Professor Urs E. Gattiker - DrKPI is corporate Europe's leading social media metrics expert (see his books). He continues to work with start-ups. Urs is CEO of CyTRAP Labs GmbH.

7 thoughts on “WEF Davos 2016: Talk is cheap

  • 10. January 2016 at 13:45
    Permalink

    VERY interesting.
    I believe reasonable use of links, hashtags and @ replies / mentions will get you far on Twitter but also on Facebook.
    Don’t tweet so much that followers get sick of seeing your name or feel overwhelmed and unable or even unwilling to keep up.

    If you follow a 100 people including WEF it is impossible to keep up with these updates. Hence you pick what represents added value. And I no longer follow WEF:
    Too many repeated posts.
    – NO replies to mentions or anything

    It is clearly not for fostering dialogue but instead broadcasting WEF news. So if I see the same post in different words maybe but the 5th time, it gets on my nerves.
    So goodbye WEF.

    Reply
    • 10. January 2016 at 14:54
      Permalink

      Dear Sara
      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      Once upon a time I was fascinated by Twitter. I love writing and I love connecting, Twitter gave me the platform to follow my passion.

      But these days I have social media fatigue or if you prefer digital fatigue.
      Twitter admitted in sommer 2015 that it was failing to attract new users. What happens is that people follow looking for followers. Then they unfollow without any sort of shared interest or connection.

      Hence, I believe, Twitter fails when it comes to dialogue or having a conversation. Nevertheless, I think it is a great tool to get news and broadcast if you are a news organisation.

      For me it is simply a way to get good stuff but mind you I follow less than 100 people and those > 1,000 who follow me do so because they probably like what I tweet, not expecting me to follow back necessarily.

      What I do not do, however, is to re-tweet the same stuff over and over, because I feel it is a nuisance for your followers.

      Reply
  • 10. January 2016 at 20:11
    Permalink

    Hello Urs,

    Nice post to ease us into 2016, but I think I respectfully disagree about your point regarding the number of daily tweets.

    To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the outrageous expense of TV broadcasting or to take things into our own hands by over-posting…

    Considering how many Twitter accounts people generally follow, their newsfeeds are awfully busy – and unlike on Facebook, I don’t think they spend hours going back and looking through what people have posted since their last visit.

    Of course, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg question:
    Since everyone posts so much, but no one goes back on Twitter to look at old stuff, the half-life of anything is minuscule. Of course, if we didn’t post every little thing (say, less than 10 posts per day, on average), even the fact that most people generally follow a huge number of accounts would not make it impossible to go back and look at everything between site visits, thereby increasing the half-life of every post (also because then they would stay closer to the top of your newsfeed for longer).

    This is all to say that, while my organisation (a small charitable non-profit performing arts organisation) does not tweet more than about 5 or 6 times per day (and that’s on a busy day), we are painfully aware that those posts don’t get us far.

    In my experience, and from my research, 20-30 tweets a day is actually considered a good thing by many. I guess, until everyone changes their Twitter habits, most of us will be stuck between a rock and a hard place, asking the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    Given all of that, I agree with your assessment that engagement and dialogue are really next to impossible on Twitter, mostly due to sheer volume. So broadcasting it is – and that’s a little sad, since we as a society already have many avenues open to us for broadcasting.

    Of course, when you have little to no budget to work with, as a small charitable non-profit arts organisation does, at least Twitter only costs us time, unlike TV, which is prohibitively expensive.

    …Right… ?

    Reply
    • 10. January 2016 at 20:37
      Permalink

      Dear Melanie

      Thanks so much for replying. You write:

      Since everyone posts so much, but no one goes back on Twitter to look at old stuff, the half-life of anything is minuscule. Of course, if we didn’t post every little thing (say, less than 10 posts per day, on average), even the fact that most people generally follow a huge number of accounts would not make it impossible to go back and look at everything between site visits, thereby increasing the half-life of every post (also because then they would stay closer to the top of your newsfeed for longer).

      I decided not to follow this strategy. Post 1 x each day and get a few clicks 🙂 what is also called resonance. This way, if my followers want to read my updates they can. They also can find the tweets a few days later. This is probably one reason why I have gained just 1 x 1 followers over the last years. Hard job.

      You also write:

      … we as a society already have many avenues open to us for broadcasting.

      That is why blogs should be used for what they were intended, to dialogue and engage one’s target audience. And this, I believe is what fails with the blogging activities of the World Economic Forum or WEF. While they know how to get their message broadcasted via newspapers and TV they must reach the general public directly. Klaus Schwab describes these four revolutions as follows:

      The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

      “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/12/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/

      This discussion cannot just be within the WEF Davos conference walls. It it is…. it will not result in change. Instead it will be another year whereby WEF Davos will result in much talk and little action. That is not what we need. What a waste of talent and resources.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
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