Slightly prematurely, both YouTube and Twitter have released the list of top trends on the two services in 2009. The lists overlap in one or two places, but in general they're as different from each other as chalk and cheese.
Twitter really only shot to fame this year, whereas YouTube feels as old as dirt...but that's not the reason for the difference in trends. Check them out: Twitter's version is at the top of the page, revealed by Twitter's Chief Scientist (what a job title!) Abdur Chowdhury. According to Abdur, of all the phrases that popped up in the analytics, "one topic surfaced repeatedly. Twitter users found the Iranian elections the most engaging topic of the year." Not surprising really, since the Iranian elections and the authorities' backlash afterwards was one of the biggest events on the globe this year.
Given that the photos and videos of those terrible events swept around the world, it's a little surprising to glance down YouTube's list and not find the words "Iran," "Election," or "Iranian" at the top of any month's searches. Here's the full list of terms, broken down into the top phrase for each month:
- January: inauguration
- February: christian bale
- March: the climb
- April: susan boyle
- May: pacquiao vs hatton
- June: Michael Jackson thriller
- July: michael jackson
- August: usain bolt
- September: kanye west
- October: paranormal activity
- November: bad romance
- December: tiger woods
Music and celebs feature highly on YouTube's list—it's where we go for music video on demand (good news for the many burgeoning Web-streaming TV channels there), and that's actually where Twitter and YouTube have very common ground: The hashtag #musicmonday was Twitter's top search phrase.
Now, for sure the "fastest rising" search parameter may not necessarily be a measure of the popularity of search terms in the same way Twitter calculates things. But you'd expect Iran to pop up at least once in YouTube's list, wouldn't you? Particularly when you remember the most shocking video from the event—the death on camera of young Neda. But nope—it was Michael Jackson's departure from this world that captured YouTubers in June, and July too.
And there's the difference: Though YouTube is almost a video social network, it's really a very different beast to "lifecasting" social net Twitter. Twitter is turning into a tool for spreading information, videos and imagery of topical stuff—hence Michael Jackson's in Twitter's list too—but it's being exploited in a far more serious manner than the frivolity of YouTube.