"We have effectively created a two-way direct dialogue" – World Economic Forum & Social Media

The World Economic Forum will host its annual meeting in Davos from 26-30th of January 2011. Year on year prominent business people and politicians discuss at the event the state of the world from economics to political issues up to environment topics. In 2008, I have written about the first Social Media approach of the WEF. It became the most read blog post until today, probably as of the event’s popularity.

At the end of last year, I met Matthias Lüfkens at the LeWeb10 in Paris and I wanted to get some input on their Social Media learnings.

About two years ago, I have written about the World Economic Forum and your open social web-strategy. How do you think about your approach in 2008 today?
I think it was the right decision to engage the World Economic Forum on social networks. We are present on the key networks and now have 15.000 fans on Facebook, 13.000 subscribers on YouTube and 1.4 million followers on Twitter. We have shown that our engagement on social networks was not a short-lived PR operation but is a continuous effort to participate in the conversation.

What are the main achievements of your social web activities?
Beyond the number of friends, fans and followers the main achievement is to have given the general public a voice in the Forum. For three years running we have invited citizen journalists to attend our meetings. In 2010 Julia Lalla-Maharajh from the Orchid Project won the YouTube contest and had her own panel in the programme addressing her cause, the fight against female genital mutilation.

Where do you see the difference between PR people and bloggers from today’s point of view?
Social Media has blurred the lines between bloggers and PR people. Today anyone can have his voice heard through blogging or micro-blogging: the consumer, the blogger, the PR representative but also the CEO directly. If there is citizen journalism, there must also be room for CEO journalism, a new more transparent and engaging form of public relations.

What will be your highlights of the WEF 2011?
My highlight is to see how much Social Media has become part and parcel of our events. At the Social Media Corner participants are encouraged to reply to questions on YouTube and Facebook. Many are actively using Twitter to share their thoughts about the meeting. It will be interesting to see how many will check in on Facebook Places and Foursquare.

What is the value of the social web and active social medians for an event like the World Economic Forum?
Social Media has opened up the World Economic Forum events. We have effectively created a two-way direct dialogue between our participants and the general public.

Thank you for your time, Matthias!