The 2011 Berky Award Winners

Travelers quest mongolia
Congrats to Traveler's Quest, a dark horse Berky winner

The 2011 Berky Award Winners
originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider

Have you been staying up all night wondering if you or a loved one won a Berky? It’s time for the most anticipated time of year, as the Berky Awards have arrived.

Here’s how the Berky Awards work: each year (alright, just this one so far), millions of people vote on their favorite social media services and technologies. None of those people tell me their votes, though, so I have to come up with the winners myself. The winners are treated to a printout of this column at their own expense, and a free beer at 360i’s bar whenever they’re in Tribeca.

Without further ado, here are the Berky Awards for Social Media Excellence in 2011. Please hold your applause until the end.

Design

Pinterest is a winner in too many categories to name, from Design to Curation to Photography. It also taps into that feeling of “je ne sais quoi”: the apt French phrase for the indescribable.

Development

For do-it-yourself developers or people who just like putting technology to work for them, If This, Then That is a brilliant way to combine services to make all of them more useful.

Email

What’s more social than email? Meeting people in person. But email’s way up there. For Gmail, there are two apps that get to share the Berky: Rapportive and Boomerang. Rapportive provides complete contact details, along with social profile listings, for anyone who emails you. Boomerang lets you send Gmail messages at a custom time, and (in a feature also useful for Outlook) clears non-urgent messages from your inbox and “boomerangs” them back at a later time. Boomerang parent Baydin also created The Email Game which wins two more Berky Awards for Best Productivity Game and Least Gimmicky Use of Gamification.

Fashion

Do you like showing off what you’re wearing? Neither do I, but I’m not the target audience. For teenagers, 20-something women, urban fashionistas, and hipsters of all ages, social fashion apps had a tremendous year in 2011. While Pose and Fashism earned nominations, the Berky Award for Fashion is Go Try It On, which has one of the most intuitive user experiences I’ve come across.

Games

I have a not-totally explicable obsession with Traveler’s Quest, where you find and bury virtual treasures mapped to your actual location. It’s at the forefront of the mobile trend of geo-gaming. While totally geeky, expect mainstream games to adapt a lot of the mechanics.

Humor

Visit some HappyPlace by someecards to ruin any attempts at productivity. A personal favorite: obnoxious responses to Facebook misspellings. Runner up: Literally Unbelievable, a round-up of people taking Onion stories seriously.

Media

One of my favorite technologies is Summify, which aggregates the top links shared by friends across social networks. Summify makes Twitter more useful, and it also wins the Berky for Best Customization Options. There are few other services I’ve enjoyed so much that I’ve updated the frequency of how often they email me.

Meeting People

I love using Sonar to meet people with whom I have several shared contacts. Sonar also thus wins the Berky Award for Stalking. It’s a co-runner-up with Bo.lt for Technologies That Creep People Out; neither could get the required votes this year to trump Face.com

Music

I don’t always listen to music, but when I do, I prefer Spotify.

Product Launches

Debates over the initial usage of Google+ tend to overlook how well Google created a new social paradigm that is integrated into all of its offerings, spanning YouTube, Blogger, search listings, and display ads. Google can safely bury the ghosts of Wave and Buzz, as there’s no doubt the company “gets” social media.

Research & Insights

Google’s unprecedented streak continues. There are so many vital and useful tools in its Think Insights, including newcomers like Google Correlate. Bookmark this and keep exploring it, as there’s so much to mine.

Shopping

Etsy’s spin on social shopping with gift recommendations is the embodiment of the value that can be accessed through Facebook’s social plugins.

Television

Interactive TV is here, if you use IntoNow (for the programs) and Shazam (for the ads). They deservedly both get Berkies. IntoNow gets a second Berky for Least Bungled Yahoo Acquisition of 2011. Hooray!

Travel

There has been an explosion of social travel apps this year. They’re really useful when you want to find advice from the two other people you know who use them. Maybe 2012 will be better. The two travel services I can’t live without are TripIt and TripAdvisor. TripIt is one of the best apps ever invented, especially due to its ease of use; you forward email travel confirmations to plans@tripit.com and it automatically builds your itinerary. TripAdvisor may be the only truly meaningful site for comprehensive travel reviews.

Twitter Apps

In the past few months, I’ve been posting heavily through Buffer, a service which spreads out your tweets so that your followers aren’t bombarded by links all at once.

Congrats to the winners!

This is an abbreviated list culled from hundreds of strong contenders. It was an honor just to nominate all of you. Let’s toast 2012 and all the innovation ahead.