Social media has quickly become a prime means of both communication and entertainment. In fact, many young people consume more media via the Internet than TV. Acknowledging the importance of social media in modern day culture, The Shorty Awards is an event that celebrates the best content creators and producers on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Often abbreviated to “Shortys,” this annual award ceremony is dedicated to the recognition of the people and organizations which currently produce short form content across the web. The Short Awards are, at present, the most prominent award show of its kind.

It aims to engage an online audience of millions and hosts a grand awards ceremony in New York City every year, which is attended by some of the most regaled names in the media industry. Each winner is selected via a combination of public votes and scores that are granted by the Real Time Academy. 

Roots 

The Shorty Awards were established 2008 by the staff of Sawhorse Media – a company that manages the popular digital PR, Muck Rack. “We wondered what was hot on social media,” founder Greg Galant stated. “Social media was new. We didn’t know how much interest anyone would have so we decided to host the contest virtually. We built the website in two weekends and didn’t have a marketing campaign or sponsors. We were shocked when, within 24 hours, we were a top trend on Twitter! The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BBC contacted us to learn more.

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We immediately knew we had something special.”

After the massive success of the 2008 launch, Greg – who has experience working at CNN and Newlight Associates – and his partners knew that they needed to expand the Shorty Awards – named for the eons of short-form content found on the web – into a live event.

In 2009, the first ceremony was held at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, New York. Although the venue is now defunct, Greg remembers the event well; “Brooklyn was just starting to become really hip, so it was a great location to host an innovative awards ceremony that celebrated new trends. 2009 was also the year that we had our first sponsor with the Knight Foundation which supports information communities.”

Growth

The categories change every year so there are always new platforms, individuals and organizations to honor. The ceremonial venues have also escalated substantially; the 2016 event was held at the Times Center in the New York Times headquarters. “It’s very gratifying to see how we can help promote Internet culture and the stars that arise from it,” Greg stated.

“There are a lot of people out there who were unknown only two or three years ago and are now successful – even famous – all because they started posting content online. The Internet breaks down traditional gatekeepers. It’s great to be able to acknowledge the depth of talent that the web has provided an outlet for. The most rewarding part of my job is meeting people who we have helped launch their careers and improve their lives overall.”

Entry is free for individuals, but there is a fee for companies and organizations. Charities are also establishments that the Shorty Awards are open to honoring; Greg was especially moved by the mission of the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline.

Presently, Greg is anticipating the launch of a spin-off ceremony called “Shorty’s Social Good” that is specifically tailored to celebrate charities, non-profits and grant-giving organizations; and they are currently open to submissions with a to-be-announced ceremony date coming soon. Submissions for the traditional Shorty Awards will re-open in the Fall. 

“Ten years from now we hope that the Shorty Awards will be as big as the Oscars,” Greg stated. “Movies have a big impact on pop-culture but the Internet has an event greater sway. We envision the Shorty Wards becoming a red carpet event that still holds its original purpose of celebrating creativity and innovation on social platforms.”