You knew it was coming.

As we move swiftly toward 2009, it’s the perfect time to reflect on a flourishing year and touch on different social media tools and trends that have helped us all navigate and explore new elements of the rapidly changing Social Web.

Though this list could obviously go on for pages, below are my Top 10 Tools and Trends of 2008.

10. YouTube Insight

In March, YouTube unveiled YouTube Insight, a free analytics tool to help users follow trends around their video posts as well as explore viewer demographic info, keyword search referrals and other data (the Hot Spots feature even lets you track viewer engagement compared to videos of similar length…very cool info). Any regular reader here will know I’m a HUGE fan of this tool. Kudos YouTube.

9. The Mom Demographic

From Mommy bloggers and beyond, no one learned more about the influence and importance of listening to this crucial demographic (any any demographic for that matter) than McNeil Consumer Health Care after their Motrin Moms Ad backlash. In addition to Mom blogger networks, Moms (along with Baby Boomers at large) are taking to Facebook and other social networks to stay connected.

8.  The Power and Ease of Video

No other format can help convey your message in such a clear, creative, concise and interactive format. Stop writing 15k checks to production companies to produce 2-3 min. spots.  Flip cameras now provide HD quality video in an all-in-one tool that fits in the palm of your hand. No more excuses for assuming you can’t afford to create video to tell your story.

7. Customer Feedback Redefined

From @comcastcares and Pepsi Cooler to Dell’s Ideastorm, and Starbuck’s My Starbucks Idea, collaboration and real-time feedback has completely changed how companies interact and engage their customer base. Stop the “push” and start the “pull.”

6. Brandjacking

It ran a bit rampant at the beginning of the year, but word has gotten out about the importance of protecting your brand online. Take the right steps to make sure your brand is secure for the Social Web. U-R-L.

5. Social Media Literature

Sure, people have predicted and written about digital trends for some time, but in my opinion, no one has put together a more comprehensive book about social media and online trends to date than Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, co-authors of Groundswell. Here’s my review, part 1 and part 2.

4. Hello Facebook, Step Aside MySpace

Sorry MySpace, but Facebook does it way better. Unless you’re a band that I’m checking out via a link from Pitchfork, my engagement with MySpace has dropped significantly. Spam, excessive ads, clunky interface and poor customer service equals BLAH. That being said, don’t completely blow off MySpace. Recent November stats from Matt Dickman over at Technoblogger show that the platfom is still quite popular across all age ranges (though its hard to tell how many of those profiles are inactive from a user standpoint). On the other hand, Facebook continues to develop as the “go to” all ages networking platform. My one request to Facebook – please start providing a video analytics tool (outside of what can used via the YouTube box app on pages).

3. Viral Secret Unveiled

The secret is there is no secret. 2008 may have been the first year PR and marketing folks realized this fact. Sure, there are key ingredients behind viral videos, but “viral” is never the result of a forced or contrived effort. Viral is the result of human reaction to connecting with funny, emotional or emphatic content (ex: Randy Pausch, Matt Harding).

2. Social Media and Politics

Obama opened the world’s eyes to an entirely new way of effectively using the Web to fundraise and build online communities. Results? Hello, White House. Let’s hope that degree of open dialogue and feedback continues. Things look promising with

1. Twitter

Ever heard of it? Fastest growing social network in the U.S. Quick, simple, fluent and brilliant. Ramp up the categorization aspect of it all (outside of hashtags) and I think mass appeal will soon become apparent.

Here’s to an eventful 2009. It will be interesting to come back on this in a year and see where we’re at.



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