In the dieing days of 2010, a ‘who’s who’ of Australian entrepreneurship gathered in Melbourne to celebrate Anthill Magazine’s 2010 Cool Company Awards. Eighteen finalists were recognised and seven category winners were honoured with Australia’s biggest award in business — a 1.2 metre personally branded trophy bean-bag.
These were Australia’s ‘coolest’ companies, according to our judges. But who, dear reader, would be your choice among the fray? Introducing Anthill’s inaugural Cool Company Award Readers’ Choice winners.
How did the voting work?
The Cool Company Awards Readers’ Choice gave Anthill readers the opportunity to vote on Cool Company Award finalists in one of three ways:
1. Tweet this post (three points):
Use the Tweet button at the top of a Finalist’s page. Your tweet will say: Congratulations [Name], Anthill 2010 Cool Company Finalist!
2. Trigger a reaction on Facebook (two points): Hit the “Like” button.
3. Leave a comment (one point): Show your support! Share the love!
Why did we conduct the Readers’ Choice this way?
Let’s be frank. Readers’ Choice Awards are usually conducted for two reasons.
The first is to provide readers with a voice. This is obviously a good thing. It takes the decision making process away from a few and gives it to many.
The second is to raise awareness. In our world, that could also be interpreted to mean ‘get more traffic’.
As such, we acknowledge that many award programs often end up becoming (for want of a better description) media sanctioned popularity contests. And with acknowledgement comes acceptance.
So, rather than rail against this hard fact (Oh, the inequity!), we decided to ignore our internal cynics (the ones in our brains, not just the ones in our office) and reward voters according to the effort they put in to reach their own networks.
That’s right, we empowered our entrants to promote the awards for us.
And, to state the obvious, if success is built on marketing flair (even partially), these 10 are likely to have a bright future.
Top 10 Readers’ Choice Revealed 
|NAME||TWEETS||3 points||LIKES||2 points||COMMENTS||1 point||Total|
A lesson in online marketing
What’s interesting about the tally above is the lesson it offers in new media marketing. For example, the leading two ‘cool companies’ generated more than double the social media responses to the full list of eighteen finalists combined.
But only one could be described as a ‘new media’ company with natural online reach. Furthermore, many other finalists also had access to influential online communities, yet did not trigger a response that could be described as even close to comparative.
Notably, both these companies were also among the best performers on the night (arguable the best, with Freelancer.com taking home two gongs — Anthill’s Online Business Award and Global Growth Award — and Barefoot Power nabbing both Anthill’s Social Capitalist Award and the overall winner title, Coolest Company).
So, was the above ranking a reflection of their status in the formal awards (i.e. Did Anthill’s judicial endorsement influence the readers’ choice results?) or were the perceptions of our judges influenced by the marketing finesse of these two entrants (i.e. Did the quality of their applications outshine those of their peers?).
While both factors are likely to have played a role, the significant readers’ choice response generated by each of these two entrants suggests something more.
Not only is it clear that success and marketing flair are fundamentally interrelated in both cases, but both organisations were able to quickly react, mobilise their ‘fans’ and employ ‘new media’ mechanisms to exploit the award well-beyond Anthill’s audience.
And we think that’s… well… very, very cool.