It’s been about a month since the Shorty Awards ceremony in New York, otherwise known as the Social Media Oscars! Now in its sixth year, it is an annual event which honors the best people and organizations on Twitter and social media.
This year, I was a finalist in the Business Influencer category, which is a great category to be in as a communicator of other people’s magic, a talent that some simply toss in the generic publicist category.
Over the years, I have found that many executives don’t think publicists understand business; they’re merely there to communicate a CEO’s vision.
As odd as that may sound, this mentality is what often leads to failed campaigns and when communications are not made a “strategic” priority of the company, it also leads to failed businesses. So, business influencer is a great category as far as categories go yet the process had me on edge for days. Here’s why!
Making it to finalist and staying in the top seven before the voting deadline required work, but not soulful work. It was a sales pitch, that kind of pushy ask that gave the used car salesman a bad name.
Once you’ve been nominated, you need to solicit people to vote for you just like you would if you were running for office.
The ask wasn’t a quick or easy one since it was confusing for many people to decipher what they had to do to cast a vote….some were miffed they had to give the awards site permission to access their Twitter account, while others were annoyed they couldn’t vote from Facebook.
Supporters had to send a tweet from ShortyAwards.com or from Twitter that went something like this: I nominate @username for a Shorty Award in #category because…REASON!
While I realize that using social media is precisely the place you’d alert your community you’re up for a “social media” award and ask for their support, bottom line, asking didn’t feel good.
Here’s what I learned in the process.
Social media for me is all about being social and the main reason it was that much easier for me to jump on board in the early days faster than some of my colleagues. I also dove into Twitter because I saw its inherent marketing value as well as it being a great source of news and insights from thought leaders and influencers I admired and respected. Social media also served as a platform to catch up with friends from around the world I rarely had a chance to see. It’s clear that social media is a incredibly powerful tool for bridging cultural gaps and bringing the world closer together socially, politically and economically.
Third, I have always loved the engagement part of the social media experience. The thing I love most about social media was missing during the voting solitication process. That said, I understand and get the value of bringing community input to the table. After all, social media is all about community so the “ask” needs to be there in some way shape or form.
Having thousands of people from around the world cast votes through Twitter using the #ShortyAwards hashtag also does wonders for their brand, escalating the hype and perceived value of the honor. It’s a brilliant marketing strategy — let’s not forget Will Farrell’s hilarious acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award where he talked about the obscurity of an award no one has ever heard of…
And yet, those who are prolific on social media are aware of the Shorty Awards and year after year for the past five, people participate across countless categories from countless countries.
The award categories are diverse and run the gammit, from acting, humor, directing, fansites, campaigns, food, TV shows, tech & innovation, gaming, podcasting, sports team, art, fashion and celebrities to quirky categories like best Kickstarter campaign, weird, science, gif of the year (yes really) best fake accounts and non-humans (yes really).
I sat next to Bulk Wolf (@wolfb) in the fourth row during the ceremony who won in the WEIRD category; it made my category name sound a little lame, at the very least conservative.
Previous Shorty Awards ceremonies have welcomed The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, Ricky Gervais, Aasif Mandvi, Tiffani Thiessen, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Kiefer Sutherland, Jim Gaffigan, Amanda Palmer, Conan O’Brien, Cory Booker, Sesame Street’s Grover, Ted Leo, Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Fry, Suze Orman, Rachel Maddow, William Shatner, Carrie Keagan, Chris Hardwick, David Karp, Biz Stone, Coco Rocha, George Takei, Jimmy Kimmel and Felicia Day.
To give you an idea of how much traffic the Shorties generate, more than two million tweet-nominations were sent during last year’s Shorty Awards nomination process. The Hollywood Reporter even covered the nominees.
From social causes and non-profit work to witty marketing campaigns, comedy and rare oddities, there was no shortage of great stories from Shorty finalists in other categories.
No surprise that Guy Kawasaki with over ten books under his belt and 1.4 million Twitter followers, took home the glass trophy in the Business Influencer category. I love Guy’s sense of humor and the candid sarcasm he uses to drive his messages home. Hats off!
In addition to myself (@magicsaucemedia), other finalists in the Business Influencer category included Gemma Godfrey (@GCGodfrey), Marsha Collier (@MarshaCollier), Lolly Daskal (@LollyDaskal), Ted Coine (@tedcoine) and Scott Levy (@fuelonline). I have a lot of respect for their work and hopefully we can all drink a fabulous Bordeaux together in some foreign city at some juncture in the future.
Here’s the upside to the solicitation process — I learned a bit more about my business and myself as the tweets came pouring in and people asked me random questions about things I hadn’t thought about in years.
Many people know that I wear two very active hats: Magic Sauce Media and We Blog the World — two disparate worlds and yet I learned through the voting process that the audience overlaps much moreso than I thought.
I also reflected on personal branding alignment in the process. While I love identifying the “magic sauce” of companies, products and individuals, that Je ne sais quoi doesn’t always hit me in the face when I first start working with a client.
As we all know, the hardest job is determining what your own magic is even if you’re savvy on stage or in front of customers and have the most confidence in the world.
Time and time again, I talk to executives, celebrities, inventors and creators who think their greatest talent and gift to the world is something other than the recipients of that gift think it is. How we perceive ourselves is rarely how others perceive us, even for the most perceptive among us.
I’d encourage you to create your own submission process to solicit feedback, asking people to be as honest and raw as they can about your work and about you. I’m not talking about a testimonial, but perhaps a one or two liner that describes your magic sauce. Do you know what yours is?
I’d also ask you to pay attention to who shows up to the table. Who takes the time to give you their feedback? Sometimes you find that your supporters are those you may least expect and those you think will run miles for you, are suddenly too busy. It will help you distill down your community and focus on what and who matters!
Below are a some random shots from this year’s Awards ceremony in the Big Apple on April 7, 2014 at The Times Center in Times Square.
In this group shot is Martin Jones of #Cox Business, who were the sponsors of our category, Business Influencer.
Learning from other category finalists.
Scott Beale from Laughing Squid on the left.
Below, Cox Media’s Martin Jones, Renee Blodgett and Greg Galant (@gregory), CEO of Sawhorse Media, the producers of the Shorty Awards. Sawhorse also created and runs Muck Rack, a leading network to connect with journalists on social media.
Awards winner announcements from the main stage.
A somewhat blurry shot of on-stage entertainment in the main room.
Also, have a look at what England-based Dean Johnson aka Activ Right Brain wrote about his experience since the vote was centered around a specific campaign or product, so not the case with those in my category. He also flew across the Atlantic to be on the ground for the ceremony and in the end, sadly lost out to Digg.
Photo credits: tropies from blog.publicisna.com, top shot: www. bothsocial.nl, Vote for Us from BakerStreetBabes.com, others taken on my Canon 7D and my iPhone.