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Liberty named finalist for excellence in social media award

February 27, 2013 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University was recently named a finalist for a Shorty Award in the “Best BN (Barnes & Noble) College in Social Media” category, the only one that recognizes colleges or universities for their social media efforts.

The Shorty Awards, now in their fifth year, are the first and most prestigious awards for social media.

The winner will be announced April 8 during the Shorty Award Ceremony, which will be streamed live from New York City.

Liberty was also named the Vox Populi winner as the finalist receiving the most votes. All votes were placed on Twitter. Nearly 200 schools received votes in this category, which is sponsored by Barnes & Noble.

Thanks to a strategic social media campaign, Liberty soared from sixth to first place in the voting in a matter of hours on Feb. 16. Voting closed on Feb. 18 with Liberty in a commanding lead for first place with 533 votes. West Virginia University was the nearest competitor with 331 votes, followed by the University of Mississippi with 319.

Greg Galant, founder of the Shorty Awards and CEO of Sawhorse Media, said it is exciting to see colleges and universities making social media a priority. Having a strong social media presence gives organizations a competitive edge in reaching their target audience.

“That is how you reach people now,” he said. “There is unprecedented opportunity to communicate with people directly … it is really the new way of getting information out there.”

Liberty students utilize social media while enjoying the atmosphere at the Liberty University Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

Galant said the awards were created because social media has become as influential as any other media source.

“What happens in social media affects culture as much as what happens in the movies or in music or on Broadway, so (social media) should really have an award ceremony of the same stature,” Galant said.

It is more challenging, however, to give awards for social media rather than a movie or magazine because of how large the pool can be, he said. With billions of users on social media, it is impossible for a panel of judges to sort through them all. This is why nominations for Shorty Awards begin with votes via Twitter. Anyone can be nominated for an award but only the top six in each category are selected as finalists.

After the finalists are chosen, they are reviewed and judged by the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences. The academy is made up of leaders in technology, journalism, business, and culture.

There are nearly 75 categories for Shorty Awards, ranging from best charity account in social media to best humor account, best fake account, and best small business in social media.

The Shortys originally recognized excellence in Twitter efforts only, but have since expanded to include all major social media outlets, including YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare, and Pinterest.

In just five years, the Shortys have exploded in influence and popularity. Within 24 hours of the site launching in 2008, the Shorty Awards were the top trending term on Twitter — where it remained for two months, even topping Christmas during the month of December.

The Shorty Awards website has millions of viewers and Twitter nominations each year. The average person who votes in the Shorty Awards is 26 times more influential than the average Twitter user, which, Galant said, has a “ripple effect” on the Shortys’ influence.

“We are not just reaching people, we are getting the most influential people in social media to participate,” he said.

Liberty utilizes a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, YouTube, and Foursquare, providing everyone with a way to interact in a digital community. With nearly 100,000 likes on Facebook and more than 20,000 Twitter followers, more digital interactions are taking place every day.

The Liberty family, with nearly 100,000 residential and online students and almost 85,000 alumni, also stays connected through the university’s official mobile app, Liberty Today. The free app includes breaking news, athletics updates, photos, media, event information, live streaming from the Liberty Channel and 90.9 The Light, and a digital version of the Liberty Journal. Read more about Liberty’s digital connections.