Wow. Just wow. We had no idea when we launched the Best of the Mid-Ohio Valley a couple of days ago that it would blow up. In fact, it might be safe to say we broke the MOV internet, with reach over 75,000 and engagement over 50,000 on our Facebook posts alone. Within only the first three days, we have received more than 14,000 nominations across 90+ categories. We are so glad that you all are as excited about celebrating local as we are!

As this is our first Reader’s Choice poll such as this, we are learning a few things along the way. Number one, never underestimate the social power of our community! Number two, a Frequently Asked Questions list is always handy. Here are a few clarifications about what the Best of the MOV is all about.

What is the purpose of the Best of the MOV?

Best of the MOV is all about uplifting our local, independently owned businesses, organizations, individuals, and places that you think are worthy of being called the best of the best. Ultimately, the top ranking nominees in each category will be featured in a printed and digital “Best of the MOV” guidebook available for residents and visitors alike. While we could certainly list all of our favorites and call it a day, we wanted to engage you – our readers, and our community – to make this a truly community-created product. The more people who vote, the better the list!

What inspired the Best of the MOV?

Best of the MOV has actually been a goal for Clutch MOV since our launch in 2014, believe it or not! We were inspired by City Guides like Charlotte’s City Notes and other “Best Of” polls, like the one Downtown Middletown‘s Young Professionals group hosts. We wanted to celebrate all the best our communities have to offer and create a physical and print guide, not based on paid memberships or who advertises – but based only on votes from the community.

Why only Wood and Washington Counties? Could you include (other county in the Mid-Ohio Valley) as well?

We hear you. We know that the Mid-Ohio Valley is much larger than Wood and Washington Counties, and we do our best to cover stories across the whole region. Since this is our first year hosting Best of the MOV, we did want to focus on the two counties that we see the most engagement from just so we can iron out any kinks and make sure this is something we can do well. Since launching two days ago we’ve already learned a lot! We hope to include more counties next time we host Best of the MOV.

Could you please add (new category) to the list?

Thanks for the recommendation! While we have added several new categories since we first launched, we have reached our max capacity. Since this is our first year doing this, we want to make sure this is something we can manage and do well. That said, we will definitely keep your recommendations in mind for next year!

When I comment on Facebook, does that count as my vote?

Unfortunately, it does not! Until January 15th, we are collecting nominations only to help us make sure the ballot fully represents all that the MOV has to offer. After the 15th, nominations will be organized into six ballots (one for each main category) which will be available on our website on January 17th.

What if an individual or business was nominated but does not fit the description of the category?

Our team will go through each nomination to make sure they are eligible before adding them to the ballot. Just because a person or business was nominated, does not automatically mean they are eligible. All eligible nominations will be added to the ballot.

How does voting work?

After we’ve collected nominations on Facebook and Instagram, the 90+ categories will be divided into six ballots: Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Retail & Service, Health & Wellness, Fun & Lifestyle, and Home & Garden. All voting will be housed right here on Clutch MOV. One ballot per category can be submitted per email address. We hope this will help make the process as fair as possible. If someone tries to submit more than one ballot per category, only the first one will be counted. The polls will be open from January 17th to January 31st. After the 31st, voting will be closed and all votes will be tallied. All voters will be notified via email when the winners are announced!

Is this a one-time thing?

We hope not! We intend to host a Best of the MOV every year.

Can a chain or franchise win Best Restaurant?

As our purpose is always to uplift local, businesses that are not locally or independently owned are not eligible. We realize this is not how every Reader’s Choice poll works, but we believe in supporting local whenever possible, and this is in line with the mission of Clutch MOV.

Do businesses who advertise have an advantage in the polls? Does a business have to buy an ad to be eligible to win?

No, and no. Our site always has advertising, open to all organizations – we added new advertising spots when we added new pages to our website to house polls. We are not targeting nominated businesses only with this opportunity, nor do we think advertising will impact voting. We are asking people to vote for their favorites – seeing an ad is not going to change someone’s favorite. And anyone, including those not nominated or eligible, can advertise on Clutch MOV. We simply know there will be high traffic on that part of our website and want to give businesses a chance to be seen by our audience. With over 90 categories of recommendations and only a limited number of ads available (about a dozen) we are excited to be able to celebrate the Best of the MOV in all kinds of ways, including through advertising on our website. The final guide – Best of the MOV in both digital and physical form – will also offer a variety of ad spaces to even further uplift the great work being done in our region.

What will the winners receive?

The winner in each category will receive a Best of the MOV sticker and certificate, published recognition online and at an event, and included in our very first rendition of the Best of the MOV Guide (both digital and physical)! The top three in each category will also be included in the Best of the MOV Guide, both online and in print.

Where can I get a Best of the MOV guidebook?

The Best of the MOV guidebook will be available both digitally and in print later this spring! Guides will be available to residents and visitors alike at no charge. We intend to distribute copies to category winners, local hotels, attractions, and more. When we host the Best of the MOV reveal event, we will have guides on hand as well.