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The Only Public-Voted Social Media Awards: How The NSMA Is Breaking The Mold

The National Social Media Awards (NSMA) has taken the stage as a global player in influencer recognition and brand partnerships. Founded in 2019 by Steven Byron, this unique platform is the only public-voted social media awards system, expanding its reach across Europe and beyond. As the NSMA prepares for a series of high-profile events in Poland, Germany, and London this fall, it’s not just the scale of growth turning heads—it’s the organization’s commitment to diversity, transparency, and fostering meaningful connections between creators and brands. With innovative features on the horizon and ambitious plans for global expansion, the NSMA is poised to make an impact on the digital industry.

Leveling the Playing Field

Steven’s journey began while working in film, TV, and music awards. He identified a gap in the market for social media accolades. “I noticed that social media wasn’t necessarily a market that was tapped into yet. It is probably even bigger than film and TV in some ways,” Steven says.

The NSMA platform aims to level the playing field for influencers of all sizes. Steven explains, “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a million or 50,000 followers; you’ve got the opportunity to compete with the big-time influencers as well as if you’re a macro-influencer.”

Despite initial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSMA held its first awards ceremony in October 2021. The event exceeded expectations, drawing 575 attendees instead of the anticipated 300. Steven reflects on the emotional moment: “At the end of that show, I was sat at the back of the room crying my eyes out so happy. I was so pleased that it was all done.”

Since then, the NSMA has expanded significantly. The awards now take place annually in London and Los Angeles, with new franchises launching in Poland and Germany. Steven’s ambition is clear: “The goal is to make it bigger and bigger each year and make it the size of the Brit Awards but for social media.”

The NSMA’s mission aligns with the increasing needs of the creator economy. Steven sees the awards as a crucial link between influencers and brands. “The brands want the influencers, and the influencers want the brands. So from that respect, I think it holds great value for both parties,” the managing director states.

The platform has already facilitated collaborations between award-winning influencers and sponsoring brands. Steven notes, “We’ve had several influencers after the awards that have gone on to work with the brands we are working with as part of the awards.”

NSMA’s Two Key Pillars: Diversity and Transparency

The National Social Media Awards stands out through its commitment to diversity and transparent selection process. Steven emphasizes the importance of inclusivity in the awards.

“We are incredibly diverse. People from all over the world come to us from different backgrounds, walks of life, races, religions, and creeds,” he states, attributing the awards’ success where others have failed to this approach.

Steven notes that 36% of NSMA’s audience is under 24 years old, reflecting social media demographics and shaping their content strategy. “We want to make sure that whatever we’re promoting and putting out there is also going to be sensible for the younger generation,” he explains.

NSMA maintains a neutral stance on sensitive topics. “We try our best to stay away from anything political or anything that might be related to sexual orientation and stuff like that. We don’t want to get involved with that,” Steven reveals.

According to him, the nomination and selection process is designed to be inclusive yet credible. Anyone can nominate an influencer, regardless of follower count. The top six nominees in each category are shortlisted and then vetted for authenticity.

“We won’t shortlist anybody with under 75% audience credibility,” Steven explains how they ensure that nominees have genuine followings while allowing various influencer sizes to compete. The NSMA founder highlights an example of this diversity: “Ironically enough, one of the influencers is nominated in one of the categories, and [the influencer] has 70,000 or 20,000 followers, and yet the next person’s got a million.”

Winners receive trophies and potential brand partnership opportunities. Steven notes, “It does allow them to approach other brands outside of the NSMA to attract further deals for themselves effectively.”

Empowering Creators: NSMA’s Impact on Influencer Careers

Steven believes the NSMA plays a crucial role in advancing influencers’ careers and industry recognition, emphasizing the significance of the awards in validating creators’ efforts. “Influencers don’t get the credibility and recognition they deserve. For the NSMA, it’s about recognizing their achievements, recognizing them as people, recognizing their hard work.”

The awards provide tangible benefits to winners. “It gives them that credibility in terms of winning an award and being recognized on social media,” Steven explains, adding that this recognition can lead to new opportunities and partnerships.

He shares the success stories of Lika O, a musician whose follower count grew from 1.2 million to 3.3 million after her NSMA nomination. Another nominee, Jazz, secured a deal with Warner Chappell, resulting in her music being featured on popular shows.

The NSMA also serves as a networking platform. “You never know who’s going to be in the room,” Steven notes, mentioning that representatives from major companies like TikTok, Netflix, and AT&T have attended past events.

Expanding Horizons: NSMA 2024 Events and Novelties

The NSMA is set for an action-packed latter half of 2024, with events planned across Europe. Steven outlines the upcoming schedule: “We have Poland on the 18th of September. We have Germany on the 2nd of October and then London on the 23rd of October.” The ceremony’s founder explains the events’ inclusive nature. “It does not matter whether you’re a celebrity, a massive influencer, or a micro-influencer; everybody’s walking that red carpet,” he states.

This year, the NSMA is focusing on enhancing the attendee experience. New features include the “NSMA marketplace” and “NSMA live area,” alongside various interactive elements. Steven elaborates, “We want everybody to be able to hold the trophy on the red carpet. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re winning it or whether you’re not winning it, you’re going to get to hold the trophy.”

The NSMA is also introducing new award categories. “We’re going to be launching streamer of the year this year as a new category,” Steven reveals, adding that a “gamer of the year” category is also in the works.

On the partnership front, the NSMA has secured a deal with The Bottle Kings, the official sub-distributor of Lamborghini wines. Steven notes, “We’ll have many different brands about on the night. We’re also going to hopefully do a deal with The Bottle Kings to give some Lamborghini Wines away and do some competitions.”

Global Ambitions and Social Responsibility: NSMA’s Vision

Steven unveils ambitious plans for global expansion. “We want the NSMA to be the same size as the Brit Awards, but in London and Poland, Germany, or wherever we do have,” he states. He aims to establish NSMA events on every continent and plans to enter Brazil next year.

The ultimate vision includes International Social Media Awards. Steven explains, “We will then do an international social media award, which is part of the NSMA, but every single winner that’s been up in previous NSMAs will come together for the grand finale of who is the ultimate influencer of the year.”

Beyond growth, Steven emphasizes the NSMA’s potential role in tackling challenges within the creator economy. He highlights the need for education and safety measures, particularly for young users. “If I could change one thing, it would be something along the lines of how we can protect the youth and vulnerable and educate people,” Steven says.

He envisions the NSMA taking an active role in this education: “I would love to be in a position within the NSMA someday to visit schools weekly or monthly where we’re highlighting the risks and educating children.”

Steven advises up-and-coming influencers: “Be honest, be consistent, and keep pushing forward.” He stresses the importance of creating content with integrity and persistence, noting, “Consistency is key. It took us a while to get to where we are now. We’re still going, getting bigger.”

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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