OK, so let's say you're interested in social trends. A great place to look at what's hot is Twitter and, yep, there's a service that will graph the popularity of any keyword on Twitter: It's called Trendistic.
Just enter any term you're curious about into Trendistic's search field and voila! You can create a graph for the last 24 hours or the last 7, 30, 90 or 120 days.
You can see, for example, that the chart for the word "libya" over the last month shows the term started to get used significantly on February 15 at 6 am and is currently trending slowly down from peaks on February 21 and 22.
Unfortunately Trendistic can't handle complex search terms or show a comparison between two or more terms, so I'll give Trendistic a rating of 3 out of 5.
Of course, to figure out what Twitter trends are worth analysing with Trendistic you might want to keep track of what's hot. While Twitter reports trending terms on the user interface there are several other services that do a similar job, for example, What the Trend.
WTT uses crowdsourcing to mine Twitter. By submitting trends you believe to be important and rating trends submitted by other people you can help determine the perceived significance of trends and increase your own reputation score. If you follow @wtt you will also be able to see the latest trends as they appear and there's an API for extending your own apps.
WTT provides a powerful insight into what's on the collective's mind and the Pro version, which provides real time reporting, is priced at $450 per month. WTT gets a rating of 4 out of 5.
So you have an idea of what's on other people's minds but how well are you doing with social media? Try twentyfeet.com. This service will mine your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, bit.ly and Google Analytics and slice and dice the results to give you insight into the impact (or lack, thereof) you are (or aren't) making in the socioverse.
After you add your various accounts, twentyfeet will access them and graph the results to show you attributes such as your Twitter reputation indicators (number of followers, number of lists you're in, and number of followers lost), Twitter influence indicators (number of mentions and retweets you get) and bit.ly links clicked and bit.ly referrers breakdown.
All of the results are displayed as graphs and the data can be downloaded as Excel spreadsheets and pushed out to social networks directly from the twentyfeet.com user interface. This makes the analysis of your use of social media a social media topic which implies that that the analysis would, in turn, be analysed as part of your use of social media. Could this be the event horizon of a social media black hole?
Twentyfeet.com allows you to have one Twitter and one Facebook account monitored and analysed for free and forever. After a 30-day free trial additional accounts cost $2.49 each per year.
My only problem with twentyfeet.com is that after six hours it still hasn't finished analysing my Facebook account (then again, maybe on Facebook I'm so social, the analysis is a really, really big job).
I'd also like to see twentyfeety.com support LinkedIn and I'd love to see the analyses cross-reference the various social services you use to present a unified picture identifying both how similar and how different your social media worlds are. Even so, I'll give twentyfeet.com a rating of 4.5 out of 5.