The Best of '08

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At this time of year, many publishers and bloggers do one of two things: look ahead at the future or back at the year just ending. Since Joe Pulizzi, Fast Company and iMedia Connection did a great job at social media predictions, I thought I’d rummage through my digital archives and offer my completely unscientific list of what made this year special for me.

Best Social Media Tool – That’s easy. It’s Twitter, the super-simple, deceptively powerful micro-blogging service that has people sharing their lives in 140-character increments. If you still don’t get Twitter, I feel your pain, but anyone who wants to practice marketing in the new media world needs to get with the program. If you need help, I’ll get on the phone with your people and tell them why it’s so important.

Best Social Media Disaster Story — Johnson & Johnson’s well-intentioned Motrin video turned into a PR nightmare thanks to — you guessed it — Twitter. To its credit, J&J earnestly listened, but the marketers’ failure to anticipate negativity and their eagerness to respond too hastily made this a bigger problem than it had to be.

Best New FaceChris Brogan blew out of the pack to become one of the world’s top bloggers thanks to his prodigious output and shrewd self-promotion. He’ll soon hit 30,000 followers on Twitter and the 14,600 subscribers to his blog are a thing of wonder. I don’t know when the guy finds time to sleep. I’m fortunate to work with him on the New Marketing Summit conference and have a chance to learn from his success.

Best BookGroundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li broke new ground by attempting to apply research and metrics to social media marketing. The book also told some great stories. Conflict of interest prevents me from choosing my own Secrets of Social Media Marketing, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying it!

Best New Software Application — In the ranks of software that tries to bring order to the barely contained chaos that is Twitter, TweetDeck does the best job I’ve seen.

Best Fall to Earth – Forrester reported that corporate enthusiasm for blogging was beginning to wane. That’s not surprising; most big companies do a lousy job of it. Expect retooling and new growth in the new year.

Best Viral Marketing Success – Cindy Gordon told just seven people about Universal Orlando’s plans to launch a Harry Potter theme park. Word of mouth spread the story to 350 million others in a matter of a couple of days. David Meerman Scott has the story.

Best New Product – The Apple iPhone 3G became the first true mobile Internet device and sold 3 million units in its first month. Expect plenty of new competition in 2009, which is only going to be good for consumers.Nokia has yet to play its cards.

Best Podcast – In the archives of the MediaBlather program that I do with David Strom, there were too many good interviews to choose just one. Among my favorites of 2008 were Mommycast, Brains on Fire/Fiskars, IDG’s Pat McGovern, Eric Schwartzman, Shel Israel and Brian Halligan of HubSpot. I think the most interesting podcast I listened to all year was Schwartzman’s interview with search-engine optimization expert Russell Wright.

Most Useful Blog Entry – Interactive Insights Group created a superlist of organizations using social media. You can find practically any case study on the Web by starting there. We have yet to hear what Tamar Weinberg has up her sleeve, though! Her 2007 superlist was a thing of beauty.

Best Article on the Media – The International Herald Tribune’s “Web Ushers in Age of Ambient Intimacy” explained the visceral appeal of Twitter and Facebook with admirable clarity. Eric Alterman’s epic examination of the collapse of the newspaper industry in The New Yorker was magnificent in its detail and insight.

Best Just For Fun – The most popular item in my newsletter is the squib about some crazy new Web resource we’ve found. Here are two of my favorites of 2008:

People always celebrate success, but they don’t give enough credit to really creative failure. Thank goodness, then, for The Fail Blog, a photographic tribute to failures big and small. Don’t look at this site in the office. Your colleagues will wonder why you’re laughing so hard. And don’t, under any circumstances, view it while you’re drinking milk, if you know what I mean…

Buddy Greene is the Yo-Yo Ma of the harmonica, and in this amazing clip from a Carnegie Hall concert, he will change forever your impressions of the capability and range of this tiny instrument.

12 thoughts on “The Best of '08

  1. Hi Paul — Hit it right on the head as usual although I will add two more nails. I think Chris gets bonus points for taking on “sponsored blogging” with the Kmart-sponsored shot across the bow of the purists. I also think Peter Shankman, crazy as he is (love ya, Peter, and you know it for your inspired silliness), get huge points for the growth of HARO ( as a free to you, me, journalists and PR people everywhere, service.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Great wrap-up of 2008. I’d say that you missed an even better social media disaster story – maybe because it was prevented from completely blowing up. Ron Ploof did a write up of how Ford handled a potential PR disaster by effectively using Twitter. You can find it at:

    Howard Greenstein even went so far as to call it a better example than the Motrin one.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  3. Have read lots of 2008 wrap up posts, but enjoyed this one the most. Thanks for putting it together. And you’re right about Brogan…does that man sleep at all?

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  5. Hi Paul,

    I would like to know at least a paragraph more about your choice of Twitter as the best tool. (I come from an SEO background and while I have read your *excellent* book, I am not a social media expert).

    Here’s what confuses me:
    I have connected (and reconnected) with so many people on Facebook. I mean – people from high school, junior high – people I never thought I would see or hear from again.

    I can’t say anything like that about Twitter. Twitter doesn’t reach out and find me the way FB does.

    What am I missing?

  6. You can find people on Twitter the way you find them on FB – via an e-mail address. Once you follow them, you get a constant account of what they’re doing. It’s very easy to communicate with them because the clutter is less on Twitter and the messages are typically shorter and more focused. I find that these short exchanges are much more effective than long FB messages, which tend to be mixed up with spam notices.

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  8. @ Paul re: “You can find people on Twitter the way you find them on FB – via an e-mail address. ”

    It’s not about whether Twitter has that FB feature, it’s that in order to find someone, they need to be there!
    FB is a “Least Common Denominator” application. Outside of my professional life, there are very few people I can “reconnect” with on Twitter. That’s why I believe FB has more potential for disruption and networking – people use it.

  9. I think we should mention the literary social networkers out there (which seem to be steadily growin). There’s been a flurry of site activity: LibraryThing, Shelfari, Good reads and the lesser known HarperCollins creation bookarmy . Shelfari was acquired (obviously) by Amazon in 2008.

    It does seem that any excuse to get profiles made and friends added can be made.

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