Annica Hansen works as reporter and moderator for german TV stations since years. With appearances in well known shows produced by german TV star Stefan Raab she got popular for a broader audience. Annica is born in Duisburg (Ruhr district) and is living in Cologne right now. She will be a moderator at the CODE_n conference and we asked her about her affinity to the online world and the internet of things.
You’ve got a twitter channel, you’ve got a Facebook fan page, you’re active on Instagram and you’ve also now got a YouTube channel, where you publish videos twice a week. How has all that happened? What’s your motivation for it?
Annica Hansen: I think the whole subject of social media incredibly exciting. When Facebook came up, I registered a private account to begin with. I operate my fan page as part of my job, and that’s simply part of it now. I very quickly fell in love with it and I’ve been maintaining the page for five years now. To begin with, I focused on my Facebook page, but then at some point I got into twitter and Instagram too and now I’m also active on YouTube. Unlike watching TV, I’m able to contact my fan base and community directly through these channels.
Many people leave their fan pages and the work involved looking after them to their agency. I’m always being asked whether I actually do all the work myself. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s great fun.
You seem to be very enthusiastic about it, otherwise you wouldn’t do quite so much.
Annica Hansen: I really love doing it. The experience is overwhelmingly positive, with only a few negative points. I don’t broadcast my private life to the world; I choose what I want to share. There’s also Annica’s private life that doesn’t appear on my public profiles. Of course, social media lives on the fact that you are revealing something about yourself. But because I’ve got brilliant fans, it’s not a big problem for me. I think it’s interesting that I appeal to completely different target groups across Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
An affinity with social media is often associated with an affinity for technology. How are you with technology? What interests you in the “Internet of Things”?
Annica Hansen: Generally speaking, I’m very much a technophile, especially in relation to the Internet. Technology is great fun. I’m happy to do a lot myself and I’ll edit my movies, for example, myself. It’s absolutely great when systems interact with each other. That’s the subject of CODE_n, after all.
My apartment is networked; my stereo system can talk to my cell phone, for example. I find other ideas and developments hugely exciting too. Thermostats or underfloor heating that can be switched on and off via the Internet are really great ideas.
You’re very sporty, of course. Fitness trackers have been out for some years now. At CODE_n at CeBIT, we’ve got two start-ups from this field. One start-up has developed a close-fitting t-shirt with sensors, while the other has created insoles for shoes that are equipped with sensors. What’s your view of these things?
Annica Hansen: I think you need to find a balance in life between the things you do yourself and the things you leave to technology. I do a lot with the Internet, and I can see the danger of reaching the stage at some point when your life is defined by Apps.
You shouldn’t mindlessly buy just everything in sight because it’s hip or new on the market. Much rather, you need to see what can actually make your life easier. New gadgets are intended to make life easier after all, not more complicated.
What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘start-up’? Have you ever thought about the subject of start-ups and founding companies in general?
Annica Hansen: Yes, I’m self-employed. So I can completely understand the bravery of people who come onto the market nowadays with an innovative idea. The especially great thing about CODE_n is the fact that up-and-coming firms are able to have the opportunity to showcase themselves. This brings ideas to the table that otherwise might have just lain in a drawer somewhere. Without awards and competitions, many ideas might not be able to turn their ideas into reality. My feeling is that start-ups are the platform for innovations nowadays.
So are big players needed to spur on young people, to give them encouragement?
Annica Hansen: Yes, it’s very important. Whether it’s a competition or something else: it’s a challenge, and you’ve got the opportunity to make new contacts. The entire thing is an engine for innovation. If people simply sit at home in their quiet rooms, then new ideas will never come onto the market.
What would you recommend to young start-ups who don’t yet have the tenacity and courage to take the plunge?
Annica Hansen: The most important thing is to believe in yourself. You mustn’t feel belittled by others, or be talked out of an idea if you really believe in it. When you’re self-employed, the only way is up, otherwise you end up zig-zagging back and forth between success and setbacks. But if you back your idea with passion and conviction, and you support your company, then you’ll always do well. You simply have to be brave, and you’ve got to be 100% passionate about your idea.