If you’re like me, you spent the better part of 2009 exploring the explosion of emerging social media tools. This year has brought a lot of “wow”, a little “whoa!”, and a whole lot of “what next”? The jury is out on Google Wave, as many of us who received our beta invite seem to be waving out into the abyss. The ‘new wavers’ asked the same question of Twitter in many cases, “what exactly is the value proposition here. Who cares?” For many organizations, this was the year of the try, of the first tentative toe dips into the social technologies that may become the cornerstone of our strategic plans. The first tweets. The inaugural Facebook page. Wrapping our heads around the coming of the Cloud. The opportunities that technology presents for campaigns, collaboration, networking, and audience building are vast and far-reaching. The walls are crumbling, my friends.
At this time of year, we reflect on the brickbats and bouquets of the last year, often presented in the form of a retrospective Top 10 list. I’d like to tweak that retrospective into a plan for the future. In 2010, what tools are you going to try? In honour of those who have seen evidence of a softening of resistance to new tools within their respective organizations, I’d like to present a gift. Here are my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions. You might also consider them stocking stuffers to unwrap and add to your 2010 toolkit.

1. I will consciously rephrase Return on Investment with Return on Engagement.

2. I will make a big effort to respect and segment my audiences. I will avoid spray and pray messaging, and give my email list the ability to opt out easily, or to tell me what information they value from me. I will investigate excellent email clients like MailChimp and Vertical Response, which offer free accounts and discounts for non-profits.

3. I will build networks with colleagues from near and far to explore best practices. We’re all in this social change business together. I will explore the WeAreMedia project and participate in the building of a toolkit and learning community for non-profits and educators.

4. I will bolster my clients’ budgets by encouraging them to explore TechSoup’s technology wishlist, which brings donated software to non-profits for only an administration fee.

5. I will stop lamenting my design challenges and the cost of Photoshop by downloading Gimp and Piknik and learning to make beautiful things. I won’t get frustrated and throw a banana at the window, because skill-building takes time and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

6. I will establish channels to achieve a greater reach. I will add to the growing repository of quality information on Slideshare, YouTube/Vimeo, and wikis. I’ll try to start my own with WikiSpaces or pbworks.

7. I will share my Twitter lists as a method of movement building.

8. I will become a better content creator by embracing the visual and getting to know Jing, Skitch, xtranormal, and Prezi. I will be a dynamic presenter and not put people to sleep (although I will try to get a good 7 hours myself).

9. I will commit to the principles of great storytelling, and use humour and vision as a means to engage my audiences. I’ll indicate what could be rather than what isn’t. I’ll look at the amazing content that Freerange Studios creates, and get inspired.

10. I’ll expand my audiences beyond the 18 blocks of my organization by using great online meeting and presentation services, like DimDim and UStream.

11. I’ll consciously moderate and engage with the comments readers have written on my blog.

12. I will take a good, hard look at the content on my website. I will make sure that it is readable, accessible, and interesting. I will make analytics my responsibility and share the diagnoses with others. I will look at what isn’t being read. I’ll make RSS easy and accessible. I’ll commit to a usability review, monthly, for continuous improvement.

13. I will help to connect people by building and participating in communities of common purpose.

14. I will re-read Nudge, because I care about our collective well-being and want to build a better world.

You’ll notice that none of my resolutions revolve around chocolate consumption or treadmills. That was a conscious, realistic decision. And since it’s already January 6, let’s not focus on the resolutions we’ve already broken!