Social media's Shorty Award voting begins

Thousands of Americans have already cast their ballots for the best names and brands on social media.

Awards season has added another big show to its docket.

But it’s not one you’d expect to see. There are sure to be A-list hosts and attendees, with big name corporations and leaders filling up its nomination sheet, but it isn’t the Academy Awards or the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, the Shorty Awards — honoring the best of social media — are a far cry from the opaque and opulent award shows Americans digest every year.

Instead of cryptic votes lodged by industry insiders, Shorty’s are nominated by the users themselves — whether they’re Facebookers, Tweeters, Tumblr enthusiasts, or even 4Square aficionados.

What started as a hare-brained, spur-of-the-moment idea in 2008 has exploded into an esteemed award show with thousands of nominees jostling to win bestowals that some claim are more important than Oscars or Grammys.

As the Shorties are ever-evolving, this year’s show, the 5th annual, features no shortage of eclectic categories. There’s a Shorty for Gif-Making (images created for computer usage), another for Quora Answer of the Year (Quora is a question-and-answer website), and even a “KeepGoodGoing” award to honor a mom and dad on social media who are passionate about their family. And, riding on the heels of the 2012 presidential election, Shorty board members in 2013 will introduce the “Best Presidential Candidate in Social Media” honor.

The categories are varied, and so are the judges, featuring tech innovators like Jimmy Wales, Dennis Crowley, and Steve Wozniak, actors Charlie Sheen and Alyssa Milano, and entertainers MC Hammer and Nick Cannon.

Voting opened earlier this month and there’s sure to be another torrent of crowd-sourced votes. Last year’s ceremony, according to Mashable, received over 750,000 nominations.

When all the ballots are cast, the winners will be announced on April 8 at the TimesCenter in New York City. Viewers can attend the festivities in person or watch them online.

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