How the Shorty Awards won the Internet
For the past eight years, the Shorty Awards has been celebrating the best content creators on social media across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Vine and more.
From, "Snapchatter of the Year" to "Best Web Series" to even "Best Parody Account," no social media stone is left unturned.
Throughout those years, the Shortys have gone from a small awards ceremony to one of the Internet's biggest nights — this year's April 11th ceremony at the TimesCenter in New York City promises to be no different.
We had the opportunity to speak with Shorty Awards co-founder Greg Galant about how the Shorty Awards have grown to be one of the biggest social media events and why he says this year's show will be bigger and better than ever before.
See photos from last year's Shorty Awards in the gallery below:
AOL.com had the chance to catch up with Galant, see his interview below:
How did the idea for the Shorty Awards come together?
It all came about during the early days of Twitter and social media ... I kind of saw early on that there was a lot of good stuff going on on Twitter, which was unique to social media at the time because it was the first social media platform based upon the 'follow' model, where you could make content that was interesting to other people and they could follow along.
We realized that there was good content going on over there, but no concrete way to find anyone on the platform. So, if I was interested in news or sports or politics, I had no way to figure out who I should follow. We decided to somewhat crowdsource the answer to that by putting up a website and soliciting people to vote for who they thought was the best on social media and those people would win an award.
We had an 8 dollar planning budget, which is what it cost to buy a domain on GoDaddy and we bought shortyawards.com. It's called 'Shorty' because everything posted on social media was pretty short. We launched the website with no real expectations, but within 24 hours, it was the top trending term on Twitter. The rest is history.
What is your proudest memory of the Shorty Awards?
I guess my proudest memory would be all the cases where we've had a rising talent and it has helped to accelerate their career. For example, Yiying Lu, the designer of the 'Fail Whale', won our design award at the first Shorty Award. She was a small-time designer, living in Australia and trying to make a living as an artist. So when she won our design award, we flew her to the U.S. for the first time in her life. And because she won the Shorty Awards, the New York Times magazine did a profile on her and I was able to introduce her to the Twitter co-founders and she worked with them and then out of a series of connections, she was commissioned by Conan O'Brien to design the 'Pale Whale'.
How have the awards changed since the first Shorty Awards? Is there anything new and fun this year?
One of the good things about running the Shorty Awards is that it always changes every year. We're always changing things up with creating new categories and killing old ones. The biggest addition we've made this year is the live stream categories, which focuses on Periscope and YouNow, because we've see that it is kind of changing the web. It's kind of a funny thing because live streaming on the web has been around for over a decade, but this idea of being able to start a live stream with just one click on your phone and having the follower model and monetizing it is something really new.
Can you talk a bit about the voting process for these categories?
People can usually cast a vote on Twitter, Facebook and our website so they can pick how they want to vote. We encourage people to share their votes -- it's a fun way for the influencer to interact with their audience because they see how their audience is voting and why they're voting and it gives them a sense of how the process works. So we combine those votes with scores from our academy and that defines the winner.
Who is this 'academy' and what is the criteria they're judging on?
It's called the 'Real-Time Academy' and they judge their criteria based on things like, how creative [the nominee's] work was over the past year, how innovative it was -- in terms of using new mediums or, depending on which category it was, how it captured their audience's attention on this medium. They also look at particular things [nominees have] done over the course of the past year.
This year you have YouTube sensation Mamrie Hart hosting the awards. What do you look for when it comes to a good host for the show?
It's a very challenging mix that the person has to bring -- the host has to have an intimate knowledge of the internet and completely understand the web on a native level, but at the same time, be able to connect to actual human beings. So you need to find someone who has experience being in front of a room and also being an internet person, and Mamrie definitely checks both of those boxes for us. She built her whole career on the internet and she has actually already interviewed a lot of the people who are Shorty Award finalists in her show, albeit drunk, but still (laughs). Whether she is behind a computer screen or in front of a huge audience, I know she's going to make people laugh.
What are you most excited about for this year's show?
I think just watching the whole mix of people interact, which is always the most fun thing because they bring together everyone -- because the categories are so broad. A lot of award shows are just one industry where everyone already knows each other, whereas ours is fueled from so many different areas that it's kind of a lot of personalities that are mixing together. That's always the most fun part for me.
The thing that I'm really excited about is seeing the whole crop of live-streaming talent because whenever you get the live-streamers together, they all live-stream each other. So it'll be the only time where you will have more video shooting out of the red carpet than in, which should be a lot of fun.
The Shorty Awards are taking place on Monday, April 11 at the TimesCenter in New York City. You can attend live or watch it online from 7:30-9:30 PM here. For more information on the Shorty Awards go here.
RELATED: Watch the video below of George Takei talking about his Shorty Awards win: