The World Economic Forum in Davos is finally trying to make its mark in social media at this year’s conference. The organization is unveiling the beta version of its exclusive Facebook-style social networking site, called WELCOM, reserved for high-profile attendees of the World Economic Forum like Mark Zuckerberg, Vladimir Putin and Kofi Annan.
The site, which was designed in partnership with Adobe Systems, BT Innovate and Microsoft, will actually be a pretty nifty way to share ideas between the world’s best and brightest. That is, if world leaders will bother to take the time to contribute to the site and establish profiles. (Don’t count on it).
It seems like the forum is reinventing the wheel since it uses LinkedIn and Facebook style features, yet doesn’t appear to link to either of those networks. Other conferences such as now-defunct tech conference PCForum have used existing networking sites, such as LinkedIn, to their advantage by creating groups and discussion boards for attendees. Rather than reinvent the wheel, they tapped into sites where most people already have profiles.
WELCOM will allow world leaders to sign into virtual meetings with video technology, share documents, and discuss topics live. Members can also set up private rooms and invite guest experts to participate when needed. WELCOM can also publish works and news via a public page, to share results.
Although the World Economic Forum is encouraging members to use the site to share personal news as they would a Facebook account, it’s doubtful whether world leaders would poke each other and reveal personal details, and other more “complicated” matters.
This application comes as no surprise since the World Economic Forum has made several strides into the social web this year. The forum has active MySpace and Facebook pages and a Twitter feed. The forum also uses Flickr to post current photos and features two YouTube channels, the more tame forum channel, and the Davos Debates channel.
Here are screenshots of Welcom. It’s probably as close as you are going to get to the site, so enjoy.