The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting came to its close Friday. This year’s theme was “Visions for a Shared Future,” suggesting that – despite criticism that Davos serves as a see-and-be-seen for the one percent – the majority of attendees were there with the bigger ambition in mind of building common ground.

What does social media conversation tell us about how the event was perceived? Zignal Labs analyzed the media and social conversations around Davos. Here were the big highlights:


Expectations were high for both Trump and Modi

Both President Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi were highly visible and highly anticipated World Economic Forum attendees. For President Trump, online interest was driven in part by those waiting to see how he would address a more global forum. Would he modulate his America First rhetoric given the world stage or continue his full-throated endorsement of his signature policy position? That interest earned President Trump the distinction of being the most mentioned world leader at Davos.

Leader sentiment spanned the spectrum

For some, the president remains a polarizing figure – and that was reflected in our word cloud. Despite a positive reception to President Trump’s speech, terms like “protest” and “anti-Trump” showed up prominently, reflecting planned opposition to his remarks. Similarly one of the top three most retweeted tweets highlighted that the audience booed at a reference to fake news. In contrast, Prime Minister Modi earned an 84 percent positive sentiment score, affirmed by similarly positive visual symbols (such as the Indian flag, prayer hands, heart, heart eyes, blushing cheeks, applause, and thumbs up emojis). #IndiaMeansBusiness dominated related tweets, clearly demonstrating that Modi’s pro-business speech resonated with audiences and observers.

Tech leaders were in full force

As sponsored partners, it’s not surprising that Facebook, Alibaba and Google accounted for 39 percent of the conversation. Alibaba CEO Jack Ma was the most mentioned by an impressive factor of four, driven by his mid-week talk saying artificial intelligence was “going to kill a lot of jobs and could start a third world war.” The WEF social team did a stellar job quoting speakers from their official event Twitter handle – and Ma still managed to steal four of the top five retweets from CEOs speaking at the event.

AI and Blockchain blow our collective minds while Bitcoin faces skepticism

In addition to Ma, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai drew attention for his swing-for-the-fences prediction that AI will be bigger “than electricity or fire.” 65 percent of messages around AI were positive as people responded well to the notion that AI can augment human potential. Meanwhile, bitcoin earned a 72 percent negative sentiment as prominent Davos-goers damned the cryptocurrency with faint praise (Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, for example, called it an “interesting experiment”). Blockchain, however, scored reasonably high in sentiment with a 62 percent positive, perhaps an indication of strong interest in the security side of this conversation.

Did you follow the Davos conversations? What stood out for you?