By Patrick Johnston
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - British boy band One Direction has swept the inaugural awards recognizing the most popular people in social media globally, coming top in four out of 10 categories at a star-studded ceremony in Singapore.
One Direction was named most popular music group, most popular UK musicians, most popular in the UK, and most popular in west Europe, at the Social Star Awards, but did not show up to collect their prizes, sending their thanks by videolink.
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber won the award for best solo artist, Selena Gomez for most popular actor, Ellen DeGeneres for top TV show, and Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo for most popular sports star.
The awards highlight viral sensations and people who garner the most social media attention globally based on data from Singapore-based Starcount that tracks the social media activity of 1.7 billion people across 11 social media networks.
American actress Jessica Alba and "Entourage" star Jeremy Piven hosted Thursday night's ceremony that ended a 24-hour marathon of 288 online awards awarded in categories ranging from best finance brand to top Indonesia actor.
"It is all about the most popular people on the planet ... Everyday we are sharing, liking, viewing, tweeting and what our awards show does is celebrate the superstars of social media," Starcount CEO Paul Morrison told reporters ahead of the awards.
Many of the award winners were absent from the prize giving but the void was filled with live performances by South Korean rapper Psy, American singer Carly Rae Jepsen, SkyBlu from electronic dance duo LMFAO, and U.S. rockers Aerosmith.
R&B singer-songwriter Eric Benet hailed the impact of social media.
"If you plan on being relevant and have a sustainable career in this day and age social media is about as important as TV was ... in the 1950s," he told Reuters television.
"Way back in the '90s when I started back in the music industry we would have to rely on our PR department and our record label but now in this day and age we, the artist, can take command of our career. It's awesome."
(Reporting by Patrick Johnston, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)