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Since I first won one of the Statesman Social Media Award in 2009, the first year they were given, there’s been a huge shift in the emphasis. Back then the Awards went to the “usual suspects”, people who were clearly identified with the social media scene who everyone knew about. This year they were given to a lot of organizations, not individuals, and to none of the usual suspects (except Whole Foods and Doug Ulman). I don’t think there was a single repeat nominee on the list of 25. And gone is the Austincentric focus.

winner of 2011 Social Media Awards?

To this year’s nominees, welcome of the Order of the Plastic Star! Prediction for the winner, Doug Ulman (pictured left).

This year’s 2011 will be announced March 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 310 Second Street, Austin, TX. A final round of tickets is available at at 8 am on Friday. Good luck getting one! They’ll get snapped up very fast.

There’s no Cali Lewis on this year’s list, no Michelle Greer (2009 winner), no Josh Williams of Gowalla (2010 winner), instead there’s the Ft Worth Opera, the Abilene Visitors Bureau, Will Franklin (Gov Perry’s new media director), and the Free Beer Movement plus an assortment of new, fast rising social media stars (Chris Apollo Lynn of the Republic of Austin Blog, Scott Maitland of Live Oak Pharmacy, Kristy Owen of, activist Amanda Quraishi, and’s Monica Williams).

Here’s today’s Statesman article about this years nominees.

The list of nominees:


  1. The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau Through the creation of a “Twisitor Center,” (a Twitter-based visitors center), among other things, Abilene CVB has brought its city to life online.
  2. Melissa Clouthier Clouthier is a Houston-based chiropractor, political blogger and podcast host. “For me, social media is a way to provide more context to the political and cultural news I share,” she says. “It is at once personal and communal.”
  3. Gabrielle Faust The Austin-based horror novelist, whose works include the “Eternal Vigilance” series, connects with thousands of fans on Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Will Franklin During the 2010 governor’s race, Franklin was the director of new media and research at Texans for Rick Perry. “Instead of a handful of insiders plotting in smoke-filled back rooms, you have citizens taking back their government and keeping their elected officials accountable,” Franklin says. “Politicians can either run with it, or be trampled by it.”
  5. The Free Beer Movement Austinite Dan Wiersema’s mission is simple: Promote soccer by encouraging fans to buy their friends a beer. “Social media like Twitter and Facebook have created a community committed to building American soccer one beer at a time,” he says.
  6. Fort Worth Opera “We use social media to deepen our relationships and level of engagement with our ticket buyers and the public at large,” communications manager Martha Martinez-Sotelo says. “We’re not what they expect; we’re fun, sassy, sometimes naughty, and definitely not your grandma’s opera company.”
  7. Hal Grieb _G  Grieb is an emergency management specialist for the City of Plano. He says social media and other web-based platforms “have helped facilitate information sharing and augment government’s ability to better prepare for, respond to and recover from incidents and events at all levels.”
  8. Chris Apollo Lynn Lynn is founder and editor of the Republic of Austin blog, which hosts the Roaries music awards and the Austin Blogger Awards.
  9. Scott Maitland Maitland is director of communications for Live Oak Pharmacy in Austin. “By integrating social media like Facebook and Twitter, we are able to reach out to our patients, customers and other allied health-care practitioners to create a dialogue about what’s important to them,” he says.
  10. Man Up Texas BBQ “In terms of exposure and timeliness and relevancy, our various social-media outlets are invaluable tools,” said Austin’s Drew Thornley of his barbecue blog. “Without them, we quite simply would get left behind.”
  11. Matt McGinnis McGinnis, a senior strategic marketing manager for Dell, writes the wine review blog What Are You Drinking?
  12. Kristy Owen Owen, a real estate agent, founded the blog 365 Things To Do in Austin, Texas. “I’ve seen a blog that I started as a lark grow organically into a platform that, to date, has more than 150,000 followers,” she says.
  13. Debi Pfitzenmaier The public relations professional blogs for the San Antonio Express-News’ SA Busy Kids. “Social media enpowers us to take our individual gifts and share them with a community beyond our own backyard,” she says.
  14. Elizabethany Ploger The author of the popular blog Love, Elizabethany is also an on-air personality for Candy 95 radio station in College Station. “Social media brings me a million times closer to listeners, readers and other people in my field,” she says. “I’ve booked multiple celebrity interviews thanks to Twitter and Facebook.”
  15. Qrank In less than a year, the mobile trivia app developed by Austin-based Ricochet Labs has gone from iPhones to coffee shops, with live Qrank games popping up all over town. “Social media threads Qrank players together and allows them to match wits and kid one another, whether they’re living in the same house or on opposite sides of the world,” says co-founder Rodney Gibbs.
  16. Amanda Quraishi Quraishi is an Austin-based activist and entrepreneur. “Social media has enabled me to evolve personally, professionally and as an activist,” she says. “I’ve built powerful relationships with far more people using social media than I could ever could reach physically.”
  17. Kendi Skeen Skeen is a fashion blogger in Kerrville. “Social media is the only way that I am able to reach my readers each day . . . I can instantly connect to readers at any time,” she says.
  18. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department “It’s ironic that all the electronic devices people plug into might be some of the best tools we have for getting people outside,” says Whitney Bishop, the department’s social media manager. “Social media enables us to share the outdoors with a whole new audience.”
  19. Texas State University-San Marcos The Texas State social media team is tops when it comes to using various social media tools to engage with students and the community. “We think our approach reflects the uniqueness of Texas State, as a university on the cutting edge of technology, but one with a student-friendly feel to it,” says university marketing director Diana Harrell.
  20. Texas Tribune Since its launch in November 2009, the Austin-based Tribune has become a major player in public policy coverage in Texas. “Social media extends our reach, increases audience size and engagement, and acts as a very good, very easy platform for publication,” says co-founder Evan Smith. “We would be nowhere without it.”
  21. Doug Ulman With about 1 million Twitter followers, Ulman is at the head of the pack of health-care organizations using social media to raise money and awareness.
  22. WeAreTeachers “We interview a lot of teachers who commonly share how easy it is to become secluded in their classrooms,” says CEO Sandy Fivecoat of the Austin-based social community for teachers. “We use social media to solve the access issue so that sharing and collaboration … (are) helping teachers with new ideas, best practices and resources that teachers see as valuable.”
  23. Kathryn Weber The Austin-based author of the feng shui e-zine the Red Lotus Letter and a nationally syndicated newspaper column, Living Space, uses social media to reach fans.
  24. Monica Williams Williams is editor of philanthropy magazine GivingCity Austin. “Social media helps us share stories that offer more people an entry point to local philanthropy,” she says. “And once they connect with a cause, social media lets them connect with other people who support that cause, and, one by one, these connections expand Austin’s culture of philanthropy.”
  25. Whole Foods Market The Whole Foods social media team covers all bases — localized Twitter accounts, blogging, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Gowalla and Foursquare — providing customers with recipes, product facts and nutritional information.