Have you used Google Trends to access keyword trends? I have used it and it was interesting to see the results for Michael Jackson on the day and time shortly after his death. The results correlate with news reports that Google and Twitter encountered slow connection due to excessive traffic.
Since user generated content is so prevalent and is a part of social media, it is good to monitor what users are conversing about.
I also found another trend service called Trendrr which I was impressed with. For small business owners, free or economically priced add on services are desired.
So how do you monitor social media trends?