Walking down the frozen streets and snowy sidewalks of Davos is a challenge in itself, never mind doing it with your face buried in a smartphone or tablet trying to stay on top of all the happenings around you. At this year's forum, there is no question that participants are more connected than ever before. From Instagram to Twitter to Facebook, nearly everywhere you look, someone is tweeting, blogging, uploading photos or updating their status.
Adrian Monck, head of communications and media for the World Economic Forum, stressed to CNBC the importance of social media. "There are only so many people we can squeeze into a small alpine town in Switzerland, and we want to bring people into the debate on these global issues, and social media lets us do that—not just in English but in Chinese and Spanish."
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Forum highlights are being posted on nearly every social media platform, and contributions from those platforms are being worked into nearly 50 live webcast sessions taking place over the four-day meeting. Online viewers can even join in on discussions through social media interviews with selected participants. And users can also build their own meeting page, in which livestreams and discussion boards can be embedded for their own blog or website.
Monck told CNBC that it's essential not only for the forum but also for businesses large and small to more actively take this approach. "You are seeing them dip their toes in the huge pond that is social media, but I think they are becoming increasingly aware that if you want to actually communicate with your customers, with your citizens, with the people you serve, you have to be on social media."
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But, he warns, it doesn't come without risks. "Social Media is there; it's in your face. If you don't respond, you get called out. If you do respond—the wrong way—you get called out. So you have got to be prepared for the cut and thrust of what is a very exciting new public sphere." Monck referred to the numerous times that people have crashed and burned because of bad tweets: "They say the wrong thing, people tweet the wrong things, they get misunderstood," he said. "It's a massive, massive risk, but everyday life is a risk."
At the World Economic Forum thousands of tweets are being sent out along with photos and updates from the various panels and discussions. WEF itself has even taken to the newly popular meme posting, tweeting out a meme of the Pope, along with his message to forum participants.
"It's an example of how something we wouldn't have done two to three years ago has changed completely the way people share stuff."
—By CNBC's Justin Solomon. Follow him on Twitter