A recent report by Trendwatching says creating, maintaining and increasing status through lifestyle, not just (or even rather than) material goods, will be the top trend of the new year.

This should come as no surprise. As luxury has become heavily advertised to the public, people have turned to other forms of exclusivity to increase their status. Look at the rise of online social networks like aSmallWorld, CarbonNYC and ChosenVIP that claim tight little circles of well-connected (in the real world) and often high-net worth members.

But there’s also been a backlash against conspicuous consumption, reflected by a rise in philanthropy, buying local and going green. And these, too, have become status symbols, as they don’t come cheap either.

The Trendwatcher study notes that one of the outgrowths of being well connected online is being highly aware of what’s going on in your own neighborhood. In other words, 2008 could finally be the year that sites highly focused on anything and everything going on in neighborhoods may finally get their due.

Already, sites like StreetAdvisor, 9 Neighbors, Placeblogger and the much-touted LoudonExtra have become popular community sites.

Yelp and Angie’s List, which offer recommendations and advice on everything from restaurants to handymen, have also become go-to resources for people seeking advice from locals in the know.

So take heed and get your hyperlocal strategies in place. The influx of the curious looking to be well-connected and well-informed online is coming.