#TNWeurope: 5 learnings that will inspire you

Social Thinking
Luca Della Dora

Luca Della Dora, Marketing & Innovation Director at We Are Social, Italy recently returned from the 2016 TNW Europe conference. Here are his top 5 takeouts.

The 2016 edition of TNW Europe has just come to a close. TNW Europe is an annual event organized by The Next Web in Amsterdam that hosts international experts from technology, innovation, marketing and communications (+20,000 participants and 140 speakers!).

As always, the conference was an excellent occasion for networking and inspiration. But this year, more than ever before, the quality of the speakers and vast array of topics really made it.

And yes, Casey Neistat decided to have a wakeboard ride in Amsterdam.

We’ve handpicked up the most insightful and inspiring learnings and we have collected them for you in a special edition of our Curiosity Stop.


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#1 Mobile is the new television
The human attention span is short, and the battle between brands to take hold of it is intensifying. Mobile devices have re-shaped the way people access and consume content and information. Just as TV took over from radio, now mobile is taking its place. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are the new BBC, CBS and CNN.

#2 Build products that matter
The best campaigns matter to people. How can we make that happen? The first step is to identify a problem to solve and for whom. This is at the core of Facebook’s framework when they have to develop a new product, as Julie Zhuo highlighted during her speech.

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While in the past, measuring and analysing results were separate activities in the building process, today they must be part of the process.

#3 Machine Learning
Have you ever noticed that the more choices you have, the less you want to decide? In the age of personalisation it sounds like a paradox, but it’s absolutely true, as Werner Vogels – Amazon CTO & VC – pointed out during his speech about “Smart Applications” and “Machine Learning”.

As humans, we don’t have the ability to predict the future (unless you are a weatherman), but we now have the opportunity to take advantage of machines able to do it for us. It’s not about magic, it’s about their ability to use data (tons of data) that allow them to predict what people are going to do, or about what they want. That’s how smart applications work (or, at least, should work).

#4 The “local news” effect
We tend to see the world according to what we already believe. In Mark Zuckerman’s presentation, he explained that the majority of online conversations about the Syrian refugee crisis on blogs, online articles and twitter, focus not on the drama that people experience while trying to escape from war, but on our governments, on the words of our politicians or on the implications that refugee migration can have on us. So, basically, what hits us close to home is what truly resonates.

We tend to be local and locked by language. Social media has the potential to modify this behaviour, but there’s also another side to it, because discussing themes that interest us more can also become a way to further reinforce our “local identity”. As Stefano Maggi, Managing Director, Italy, We Are Social, points out:
The increase in population doesn’t automatically mean a broadening of voices and viewpoints. Actually, the extension of the communities has the risk of causing “homophily”: to go and seek and find out more information about news and info relevant to the people it’s closest to, with the disadvantage of missing all news that is relevant but distant.

#5 Culture > Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF is worth 100,000. Hugely popular in the early days of the internet, GIFS are enjoying a resurgence because people are trading accuracy for speed. Our attention span is less than 5 seconds, so GIFs offer a way to share content faster.

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GIFs are so strong because they allow people to express themselves in a visual/sharable/effortless way, and they are the best format to tell a story that can be consumed in less than 5 seconds (the attention span, do you remember?).

These are our highlights from TNW Europe 2016, you can also find all the talks on the TNW Youtube Channel, and, if we piqued your interest, you can find the full TNW Europe roundup here, as a special edition of our monthly Curiosity Stop.