Ad industry: no more anti-wrinkle-propaganda

Silver Surfers discover the web (image: Ambro)

One morning you suddenly discover it – the first grey hair. No surprised Facebook status updates, tweezers or hair colourings can deny that. But why does something like a single grey hair make shudders run down our spine?

The quintessence of the Facebook updates seems to be that this discovery reminds of an undeniable truth: we can’t escape getting older. But we can hold something against it: a healthy attitude.

And where are we supposed to get that from if the images of ideal beauty proclaimed by the media would rather erase any sign of old age like grey hair and wrinkles in women entirely (cause in men (really unfair!) like George Clooney time only seems to enhance sexappeal).

Thankfully now there are not only female celebs like Meryl Streep, but also ad developers that put a different beauty-image out there: they state that beauty is ageless and should be embraced openly and full of joy.

By the way: ad developers can’t ignore the 50+ generation – online or offline – anymore anyways. The number of the so called ‘silver surfers’, who use the internet to research and buy products, is constantly growing.

New beauty ideals in ads

Some ad campaigns actively react to this phenomenon and show much more wrinkled skin. Two companies that did this especially well in my opinion are Dove and the German brand Schwarzkopf.

Doesn’t “Anti”-Age sound like you should hit anybody wishing you a happy birthday over the head from now on? And isn’t the concept “Pro” Age much friendlier, life-embracing?

The end of the struggle against our own bodies and the new definition of our beauty ideals that comes with it – was long overdue.

Schwarzkopf also shows women of any age in their new ad campaign that even with 72 you can still be chic and beautiful.

Renate Gerdes is the new Schwarzkopf model. In YouTube clips she talks about her life and at the same time has her hair done. She says: “I don’t mind the grey hair at all” as if it was the most natural thing in the world – which in fact it is and should be in our perception of beauty.

But Renate Gerdes should have been the face of a German ad campaign a while ago. At the beginning of 2011 L’oreal was looking for a new face for one of their campaigns on Facebook.

But instead of sticking to what was decided on the social network – namely that Renate Gerdes won – an additional jury vote decided to go with the young, glamorous second places who had less than half of Gerdes votes.

Don’t judge a person by their wrinkles

L’oreal’s competitor Schwarzkopf seized their chance and hired Gerdes for their senior hair product campaign – showing that sympathy counts for more than grey hair does.

In the much quotes ‘aging society’ we can’t allow ourselves to stick to these outdates ideas of beauty for much longer. We will have to stop panicking when faced with natural processes like that.

Instead we should write the pro-age philosophy all over our moisturizer pots and rather take a trip around the world together with our loved ones like Renate Gerdes than frantically keep on trying to smooth out our bodies.

That will then lead to a much more relaxed look into the mirror, less worry-wrinkles and fewer stress-grey hairs.

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Study about Social Recruiting: Trends and Developments

“What is really of interest for employees in social media” is a question asked by almost every E-Recruiter. In an empirical study Florian Schreckenbach (Taltential) tried to find out the answer to it together with Leena Volland. And the results should well be of interest to every Social Recruiter.

Many users are happy about messages from possible employers. (Pic: embrander)

In the so called ‘war for talent’ a lot of companies have difficulties finding the right employees for the open jobs they have. Talents are rare and due to that the good candidates usually have dozens of offers to choose from.

Addressing those candidates directly via social media is one way personnel managers can choose to make sure that their company at least is on the radar of these potential employees.

That social media are widely used has long been known. Among those are – so far – predominantly privately used networks like Facebook as well as more business orientated platforms such as Xing or LinkedIn.

By looking at the user’s profile details personnel managers can get a first impression whether or not this person would be an eligible candidate. In order to limit the pool of the possible addressees the community of Facebook subscribers can be searched.

Also the business networks Xing and LinkedIn can be searched for specific information the users mention in their profiles.

But this technique cannot really be called ‘social recruiting’ as that asks for the active use of social media opposed to posting static job ads.

“When you post a job ad on Xing you use it as a job board. Only when the ad is promoted on one of the platforms and then gets shared you can really talk about social recruiting”, says Schreckenbach.

A possible fear of companies to come across as too straight forward or as spammers is unnecessary. Many users appreciate their getting in touch.

“It is important that the message is convincing and specifically aimed at the candidate. But creating that takes time, companies should be aware of that”, says Schreckenbach.

To phrase the contents of such a message right is not simple at all. Even more so as the

What companies write and what users want can be very different things. (Pic: embrander)

study found out that candidates are expecting different content in messages that get send to them via social media from what the companies actually send them.

That is the reason why such messages are not really successful yet. As it did not make a difference to the candidate – based on the messages they received – whether they were contacted by a company or not.

The study revealed that a successful social recruiting process works in three phases: gathering attention for a brand/ company, turn this attention into interest (i.e. by offering attractive content in via social media), generate applications (i.e. by messaging the candidates) and then working on keeping the employees in the business.

Even though the study could determine a growth in social media recruiting in comparison to the year 2010, such ways of communication are still being used rather scarcely.

Florian Schreckenbach believes that the fear of the new toward these new communication and recruiting channels will subside with time.

“A cultural change is taking place regarding a more open form of communication and a more flexible collaboration. In my opinion this is slowly being more integrated into businesses – the so called ‘enterprises 2.0‘”, he says.

In order for this to come true companies would have to use social media more actively in the future – i.e. in projects or to create knowledge archives.

The complete study can be downloaded for a fee under

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Video interview with @sioksiok – the director of the first Twitter documentary ever: ‘#Twittamentary’

Tan Siok Siok, or @sioksiok on Twitter, has produced the first ever Twitter documentary, ‘Twittamentary’, during the last three years.

@sioksiok has come to London to present the Twittamentary in one final beta screening.

She has travelled America together with the New York artist, Geo Geller, to film some of the people behind the Twitterverse – following crowdsourced links.

A last beta screening before finishing the Twittamentary has brought her to London, after showing the documentary in a couple of venues across America.

In this exclusive video interview Siok Siok talks about how her relationship with Twitter has changed during the documentary.

She also addresses how Twitter will change the role of traditional journalism.

Watch the video interview here:

If you wish to take part in the global Twittamentary discussion, you can either add Siok Siok on Twitter or send a tweet with #twittamentary.

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Mark Rock, inventor of ‘audioboo’, on social media, journalism and audience connection

Audioboo‘ is the most popular social media voice network currently on the market. Media across Europe (BBC, Le Monde) and the world (Washington Post, ABC Australia) use audioboo to create on-scene recordings and social media spoken-word content.

Mark Rock showing the "record" screen of the audio recording app 'audioboo'.

In this video interview audioboo inventor Mark Rock explains what audioboo is and what makes it different from other social media tools.

He also talks about the relationship the audioboo network has with its audience and how the creative process gets influenced.

Rock also explains why audioboo so far does not allow editing.

Watch the video interview to learn the answers:

Also, Mark Rock decided to turn the tables and ask me some questions in return.

You can listen to the audioboo he recorded here:

@SteffiSoehnchen gets the interview treatment

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How to use social media for marketing your business – the social media divas wanted to know

No matter what business you have these days – whether you’re a personal trainer, music agent or a yoga teacher – using social media as a marketing tool can help you to a local or even global breakthrough.

What is the best way to promote your business via social media? Divas at work...

As long as you know how to use all the different social media tools out there in a way that they will support your business properly.

But how do you find out? Ok, you might find all sorts of information on Google, but what if you could hear it directly from some of the most successful social media people out there?

That was the idea of the ‘Super Social Media Divas’ event on the 16th of June 2011 in the ‘Women’s Business Centre ‘ in East Ham, London.

Among others the social media Queen Zoe Cairns, Youtube guru Dawn Mendonca and the social-media-magician Dominica Alicia offered their knowledge to a small group of businesswomen.

What was there to learn?

Each of the ‘divas’ told the story of how they got to where they are now.

And what they have in common is that social media opened up a whole new world to them – business wise and concerning the balance within themselves.

“Don’t be afraid to make yourself the brand and put your knowledge out there,” Dawn Mendonca said.

The success is connected to the content and delivery. That holds true for when you’re tweeting as well as when your uploading videos to Youtube.

“Videos can never be about teaching – they have to be about sharing your knowledge like you would with a good friend,” Mendonca advised.

“Only one out of 10 tweets should be a promotional one – all the other should be ‘content rich’,” Zoe Cairns told the Twitter-birds to be.

Get a little help from your friends

So, social media is about sharing, about relationships. Building those is the only way to establish long-term relationships with your clients, says Dominica Alicia.

“First they know you, then they like you, then they trust you and then they pay you,” is Alicia’s Motto.

Also, there are a lot of little programmes that can help you get a grip on social media.

Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for example combine all your social media accounts into one, easily manageable interface.

On – the yellow pages of Twitter – you can find Tweeters from your area.

And of course there are loads of video tutorials out there. It is not dealing with social media in itself that is hard; it is making the first step towards social media marketing.

“Take Big Action”

“When you get into social media marketing you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and build up a vast, global network – for free,” Mendonca reminded the businesswomen.

“But you have to take action. You can’t be concerned with fitting in when it comes to social media if you want to stand out.”

Here are a few of the key tips of the ‘social media divas’ at one glance:

Be authentic. People will want to make business with you and not some kind of fake persona. You have to let go of your ego and show the Internet world who you really are

Be social. As the name gives away: this is what social media are about. They are not about selling, they are about communicating and socialising. So don’t spam people with your products and let no comment go unanswered.

Don’t spam. “The power is in the list” is a common saying among self-employed people. But this power dwindles if you send out sales newsletters and commercial tweets all the time. Offer content 90% of the time and no one will feel ripped off.

Don’t try everything at once. There are hundreds of social media out there. Don’t try to get your profile on every single one of them at once. Master them one by one.

Share + ask. You found out something about social media or your field of expertise? Great – put it out there for free. This will build your credibility and will also allow you to ask others for help should you have questions.

Be consistent. Make sure to become a reliable outlet for good content so that people understand, you know what you’re talking about and therefore your product must be worthy to buy.

I guess, it is about finding your own way to use social media as a marketing tool for your business.

You will have to be brave and patient enough to figure them out and then see what is your ‘authentic’ way of connecting to your clients.

Here’s a little picture slide show of the divas present at the event:

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Do I have EHEC? My experience with the mysterious illness.

I went to Hanover in the North of Germany last week and spent the last couple of days scanning my body for symptoms of EHEC, always wondering “Do I have it?”.

Are you brave enough to buy or even eat raw vegetables these days? (pic by Kittikun Atsawintarangkul)

EHEC spreads and with it the fear spreads from Germany across Europe. It is such a sneaky disease! No one knows where it comes from, there is no real way of treating it and there is no end in sight.

On the day I arrived in Hanover, the German papers announced that the hospitals in Hamburg were full and EHEC patients had to be brought to Hanover. Perfect.

That was still when everyone thought Spanish cucumbers were the source (which apparently they aren’t, which resulted in Spain claiming compensation money from Germany).

But also they warned not to eat any raw vegetables (and some say fruit). In the lobby of my hotel, I picked up an apple. Didn’t eat that.

The undercover threat

The tricky thing with this EHEC is that we have so little information and so much fear that many people just stopped following their daily routines and changed their diet.

In the supermarkets vegetables and fruit pile up and if vegetables are supposed to be part of a meal, families get out the disposable gloves.

People tell each other who is still eating tomatoes, and it sounds like a really brave, but probably silly thing – like bungee jumping.

“I don’t have EHEC, do I?,” I kept saying to my friends, listening to my growling stomach. They just shrugged.

There was no salad on the bread rolls we had for lunch. No cucumbers. No tomatoes. I ate some grapes and felt really suicidal about that.

Picked up a readymade salad in the supermarket, only remembered afterwards that I am not supposed to eat that.

Starting to get the symptoms

In the night I couldn’t sleep because of stomach cramps. I thought – that’s it.

When I woke up, I felt really sick. I called a hospital to ask them what to do. They said, I had some of the symptoms, but all they could do would be to put me in quarantine.

My flight back to London was in the evening and there was no way I could inhabit a quarantine tent that day.

Then I called the public health department which forwarded my call to their doctor. She said that it was possible that I had EHEC, but that the incubation period is between three and ten days.

I should watch it and see.

Don’t panic!

Probably, this advice surprises you, but actually, it’s perfectly fine. As EHEC is a strain of Ecoli, it can be a “normal” gastric infection that is not unusual.

Symptoms would be: diarrhea, nausea, sometimes puking, cramps and fever. If you get “just” that, you should be fine after some days.

Now, EHEC is such a threat, because it now seems to combine two sorts of bacteria, is untreatable with antibiotics and attacks the body in such a malicious way that it can even kill it.

So, as soon as the diarrhea gets bloody your alarm bells should ring and you must see a doctor immediately.

Because EHEC dissolves the intestines (hence the blood) and then starts attacking the kidneys, until they fail, which can result in death.

That is why some EHEC patients get their blood “washed” in the hospital – as the kidneys can’t do it any longer.

EHEC or not EHEC?

The following days, I was very careful with what I ate. Monitoring everything my body did.

Now, the ten days are over and I seem to be ok.

So, apparently it was just my psyche playing tricks on me. I was so afraid of getting these symptoms that I actually did get some.

Concluding, I can tell you: If you have these symptoms: Don’t panic. There is no need to as long as you don’t see blood.

Well, let’s hope they find the source soon, so we can get rid of this for good and start eating salads again…

You may also be interested in reading my other blog post “What exactly is this EHEC virus?”

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Divorce is now almost legal in Malta – does that change anything?

Malta, the last real stronghold of the Roman Catholic church, was shaken by a small step towards a more liberal nation. Since May 2011 divorce is legal in Malta. Now the last EU nation in which divorce was not an option has voted in a controversial referendum to allow it under certain circumstances.

Now Maltese couples are officially allowed to go their separate ways. (pic by nuttakit)

“A friend of mine, just before the referendum overhead a lady at a bus-stop: ‘If divorce comes in, we’re going to be up to our necks in gays and abortion’, David Vella, a technical developer from Gozo, one of the Maltese islands, recalls a public reaction.

Despite an estimated 30% of Maltese marriages ending in separation, both Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and the Catholic Church backed the “No” campaign, sometimes with questionalbe forms of intimidation before the vote:

“There were some priests who said they’d refuse giving communion to people who vote Yes,” Vella told Not on the Wires.

Monsignor Anton Gouder, a senior official within the Maltese Archdiocese, explained the fears of the Catholic Church to the BBC:

“Not having divorce is special in a positive way. Statistics show that divorce brings much more marriage breakdown and more cohabitation,” he says.

Maltese voted yes

The vote ended with 52% of the Maltese population deciding that it was time to accept the wish to end a marriage legally in order to be able to marry again.

And suddenly Malta’s PM Gonzi and the Labour opposition party leader Joseph Muscat seemed to agree on the need to work together in favour of the public.

“The will of the majority now had to be respected, without ignoring the minority, he said. And all must work for stronger families,” Muscat said according to the Times of Malta.

“Even though the result is not what I wished for, now it is our duty to see that the will of the majority is respected,” Gonzi, Malta’s PM, said in a speech on TV.

Yet, the vote is not a real surprise – no matter how close or controversial it was.

Divorce has happened before the referendum.

However, you had to either move abroad or one part of the couple had to be from a different country. Divorces done elsewhere were accepted by the Maltese courts.

Also, people could have their marriage annulled by the Church, which happened rarely.

“Malta is the only country in the world which doesn’t have divorce but does recognise those obtained abroad.

Therefore, if you have the means you can get divorced but if you don’t, then you can’t,” Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, an MP with the Nationalists, said to the BBC.

Maltese citizen, David Vella, does not think that any more liberal decisions will be made soon.

“I don’t see hot topics like abortion coming anywhere close to being discussed anytime soon. There is a lot of ignorance which needs to be addressed before we can have meaningful discussions,” he says.

Malta remains a Roman Catholic bastion at the border of Europe but now with the legal acknowledgement of separations and divorces.

Labour party leader Muscat said in a speech after the referendum that “a new Malta had been born”.

But with only 52% of the population voting “yes” has Maltese society really moved on?

This article was also published on Not on the Wires.

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