The Good and the Bad of the 2013 Vancouver Social Media Awards

On Thursday, March 28, the Yaletown Roundhouse community center was host to the first Vancouver Social Media Awards. The first year of any awards show is always an event to behold: precedents are set that future years will either reinforce or subvert, and what was deemed acceptable that night will be the reference point for years to come.

The night, as was to be expected, had highs and lows. The night’s entertainment was hit and miss—the event put Peter Chao, a comedian best known online as “pyrobooby,” at a disadvantage. His “Engrish”-speaking persona is more digestible in the context of his videos than before a live-studio audience.

Alternately, the slam performance of lyricist Francis Arevalo played very well; the mildly rowdy audience was silent while he performed, and exploded when he finished. The social media management, bizarrely enough, was one of the weakest parts of the night. The Twitter wall was fantastic for, as Dave Olson of Hootsuite noted, 45 minutes, until the conversation was lost in amidst a flurry of spam tweets about celebrities in bikinis.

In an odd counterpoint, Gillian Shaw, Amy Judd, and Lien Yeung ran an outstanding panel. Their defence of both objectivity and tradition in journalism helped ground the event. The celebration of food blogs is worthwhile; the celebration of a technology that allows people in Egypt and Iran to become citizen-journalists and share their stories around the world is essential.

There was a lot that students could learn from that panel, and a lot that professionals could gain from remembering. The discussion of the Amanda Todd case in the media was something that everyone in the room could take something away from.

The MCs of the evening, Breakfast Television’s Dawn Chubai and Visual Capitalist!’s Nick Routley, were charming, but not effortlessly so. Their stage banter included such hoary chestnuts as debating the validity of “ph” as a replacement for “f” in words and pouting over whether or not they were being slighted by a reading task given to one or the other.

Still, they never condescended to the event, or acted like there was anywhere else that they would rather be. Dave Olson, who presented the Must Follow awards, spoke well about his own story, but decided to “skip the big formal reads” for the nominees, and routinely peppered the descriptions he did give with a request for someone to fetch him another beer.

But at the end of the day, the evening belonged to the winners, and they owned it with grace and charm. They played well off of the presenters they encountered. The boys of “I Focking Hate This” had fun with Peter Chao at the mike, and took a few moments to tease the audience with their victory over the Vancouver Canucks, nominated in the same category as them. Fundrazr’s Daryl Hatton spoke eloquently and succinctly when at the mike, stating that since the other nominees had used Fundrazr in the past, any win at all would have been a win for Fundrazr.

The evening saved its best for last: Mijune Pak’s tear-streaked acceptance speech for Must Follow 2013 was one to remember, when it could be heard—she was quite literally choked with emotion.

“I didn’t think I would get emotional about this at all, but it’s been three years of my life that I just poured all over the Internet,” she gushed between tears. “I wouldn’t have a job, I wouldn’t have anything without social media, so thank you so much for voting and supporting, because my entire heart and soul belongs to every single one of those posts. … Thank you for believing in social media, because it’s changed my life.”

Social media changed the life of everyone in that room: it allowed Peter Chao and I Focking Hate to create their comedy, and shaped the careers of all three women on the panel. The Social Media Awards not only celebrate one of Vancouver’s most prominent digital industries, but rewards current students in their pursuit of a passion not fully embraced by academia. The ability to state that you are an award-winning anything should not be underestimated in this competitive job market.

Congratulations to all of the winners. A full list is below.

Best Blog Awards

  • Student: Curtis Ng of Foodobyte
  • Industry: Whitecaps FC

Best Student Organization Award

  • SFU Student Marketing Association

Best Social Media Campaigns Awards

  • Non-Profit: FundRazr “Sharecraft Save the Children” campaign
  • Public: Tourism Richmond “365 Days of Dining” campaign
  • Profit: Vancity Credit Union “Good Money Mob” campaign

Best Social Video Channel Awards

  • Student: Linda Dong of Leenda D Productions
  • Industry: Matt Dennison and Jason Lucas of I.F.H.T.

Must Follow 2013 Awards

  • Student: Farhan Mohamed
  • Industry: Mijune Pak of Follow Me Foodie