adam vincenzini

Social media time management in 2010 (Part 1: "The 5 S’s")

“The 5 S’s” – Part one of a two part series looking at how to best manage your time when it comes to social media in 2010.

Part one: The daily routine.

Scan. Select. Schedule. Share. Sweep.

The following takes place between 7.00am Monday and 10.00pm Sunday, starting from 4 January 2010…tick, tock, tick… events occur in real time.

You think Jack Bauer‘s got it tough?

Granted, a normal day for Jack is governed by a ticking clock, but so is the average week for a social media enthusiast.

The deeper I delve into this space, the more I’m convinced that time management and productivity processes are just as important as knowledge and experience.

With that in mind I thought it would be useful to share my ‘template’ for fitting social media into an average week.

Now, this approach may not be possible / right for you (for a number of reasons), but you never know…so here goes…

The 2010 social media daily / weekly planner

There are two distinct parts to my approach:

Things I do on a daily basis, with a focus on how I use Twitter (the subject of today’s post)

Things I assign to certain days aka the heavier lifting (part two of this series, to be posted soon)

The routine I (attempt to) follow daily is based around The Five S’s”

Scan. Select. Schedule. Share. Sweep.

As mentioned up top, knowledge is paramount in this space as things tend to develop and change so quickly…and, I get a kick out of learning new things, so it’s a win / win.

The following structure permits for the push / pull balance that works for me.

Scan (step 1)

There are a number of sources I subscribe to / like to review on a daily basis, so I tend to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning scanning through my RSS feeds and favourite aggregators / sites.

These sources are specific to the areas I’m interested in, and include several ‘vertical’ subjects i.e. retail (in addition to general Social Media, PR, Marketing and Communications sources).

Select (step 2)

Post scan, I select the posts / articles I’m interested in and give them a read (for the more detailed posts, I file them away and read them when I have more time).

Of the posts I do read / review, I’ll flag up a handful that the members of my ‘community’ might find useful.

Schedule (step 3)

I then log in to Hootsuite (a Twitter client which allows you to schedule your Tweets) and line up my flagged content that I want to share for the day.

This is probably the step that saves me the most time, but creates the most value for me and the people I’m connected to (Hootsuite also doubles as a great filing system, keeping all your sent items within the application).

There are tens of tools that can help you do this. In fact, just this week QuickOnlineTips posted a great list of 15 tools you can use to schedule tweets – worth bookmarking.

You might want to put these links in other places as well i.e. Facebook

Share (step 4)

Hootsuite facilitates ‘structured sharing’ – it allows me to send out the links / posts that I think are interesting at the times of the day I see fit (all done at the start of the day, limiting the ‘business’ hours impact) – it essentially means, I can do my bit for the community while (attempting) to keep my employers happy.

It also means I’m giving more quality time to the content I’m sharing, as opposed to treating it as a a chore / afterthought.

Sweep (step 5)

This is the best example of push / pull.

Scheduling some content frees up time to conduct a handful of ‘sweeps’ during the day (this is where I check Twitter, my RSS, emails, replies etc).

As a general rule I assign 4 or 5 slots a day to ‘reacting’ to content coming in.

Other tools like TweetDeck, Seesmic and Monitter can help ensure nothing slips through the Twitter cracks via keyword searches / notifications.

Another great tool for Twitter (that I wish I used more) is the ‘favourites’ function – if something pops up you like the look of, hit favourite and come back to it later in the day.

I normally like to finish the day with one final sweep to make sure I haven’t missed anything…again, time permitting.

The outputs of this approach

In essence, this enables the time I allocate to social media to be split pretty evenly, and hopefully productively – 50% of time spent on the proactive ‘pushing out’ of content, and the other 50% spent on the reactive ‘pulling in’ of content / dialogue (and interacting where appropriate).

Some general principals

Quality over quantity (in both push and pull facets) – the big one for me, volume doesn’t necessarily equate to value

Think about your audience – I tend not to forward stuff by sources like Mashable because most of my community follows that feed already, but am more inclined to share something that people may not have seen

‘Find’ time to say thanks – if someone sends around something you really liked, drop them a little note at the end of the day (for the really time stretched, do this on the bus home from work – use ‘dead’ time to your advantage)

Don’t be robotic – on one hand its ok to be organised, but don’t just be a bot and fire stuff out ‘broadcast’ style all day – it comes back to balance – people want to interact with people, not tools / machines

Be flexible – some days this approach works a treat, on other occasions ‘forgetaboudit’ – the great content you want to consume will still be there at the end of the day…and the day after that…

What else?

This is just one element of the mix.

In the next post we’ll get a bit broader and look at how you can split your week up to make sure you’re doing the other things that add value.

We still haven’t looked at things like:

– When to write your own content (and when to distribute it)

– When to (thoughtfully) comment on other people’s content

– And five other things that are worth including in your weekly social media mix

BUT, the daily routine is paramount. It sets up the ‘push’ part of the equation…and permits for the ‘pull’.

An analogy?

I liken it to exercise.

There’s no point going to the gym five times a week if you’re not eating well most days.

The daily routine, in essence, is your meal plan.

So, that’s part one…hope it was helpful…part two is where we start the heavier lifting.

Your routine?

Do you have a routine / some tips worth sharing?

Post your comments in the box below.


P.S I wanted to say thanks again to everyone who read / shared the recent top 99 posts of 2009 feature…it was great to see / receive so much positive feedback.


  • Laurence

    A very useful post Adam, your blog is fast becoming one of my daily must reads.

    I had over 200 feeds in my RSS which became unmanageable and recently reviewed my feed susbcriptions which were becoming unmanageable. I now have 2 subfolders and only read 10-15 blogs on a daily basis:
    – Industry news and must read blogs: i.e. blogs such as Mashable, PSFK, TechCrunch etc
    – Relationships: being an old-school blogger (no one was on Twitter in ’06), I spend a lot of time investing in bloggers relationships, i.e. reading my friends’ blogs and commenting on them

    Twitter lists also come in handy to filter relevant information – I am only genuinely following people included in my lists (take a look at my lists on my Twitter profile) which also helps me indentify interesting content worth re-tweetering during the day!

    Looking forward to part II!

  • Robinana

    This is excellent and valuable information. I knew a lot of it already, although I’m very guilty of “non-implementation.” During my freelance writing day, I often move to social networking. If not properly monitored, it can be a real time suck. I am going to start using Hootsuite immediately. Thanks for such a common sense, yet valuable post.

  • Steve Borgman

    Early on, I was utilizing each day of the week to focus on my different niches of interest, but those lines have become more blurred lately. I also love Hootesuite’s function of being able to load up tweets before or after work hours, so as to minimize my social networking time during work hours.

    I look forward to part 2!

  • Adam Vincenzini

    Guys, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and comment (damn it, used ‘time’ in the first line!).

    Laurence – your additional tips are very useful – ones I’ll take on board for sure.

    Robinana / Steve – I constantly have to remind myself to be disciplined because I can get so carried away with it all. These kinds of conversations / exchanges with people who face the same challenges help immensely.

    Hopefully we’ll find our ‘nirvana’ one day.


  • Mari Smith

    I do agree with you, Adam, on how important time management (which is really self-management) and productivity skills are in the social media realm. It’s all too easy to lose track of time and go down “rabbit holes!” 😉

    We literally have to make hundreds, if not thousands, of micro-decisions on a daily basis as to the importance and relevance of a constant flow of information. What to read, what to share, where to share and when.

    Of course, having a systematic approach helps make our time more effective and efficient… but then there are always great new sites, tools and resources springing up! 🙂

    And, I believe there are as many ways to use social media as there are people using it. 😉 There are certain unspoken rules of etiquette… but we’re all at choice at the end of the day as to who and what to follow! 😉

    I created an Excel spreadsheet for my students with suggested daily, weekly and monthly social media activities – it’s been very helpful. And, each day is an ongoing fine tunement because other demands on our time come along.

    I do like what comedian, @nerdist, said about Twitter in particular at the 140 Twitter Conference in Sept this year – it’s not that we set aside say 20 minutes a day and “do” Twitter, we “grout our day with it.” 😉 Thank goodness for iPhones. 😉

    Keep up the great work!


  • Edge Girl

    Mari posted your link on Facebook and I was glad I came over to check it out.

    My focus has been primarily on quality but some challenges got me off track on some of the social media.

    Today I mostly interact at Facebook and have other things automated.

    I scan twice a day for sure, and if I have a break, peak in periodically. This last week I’ve been working on an spreadsheet with daily tasks and an editorial calendar.

    Some items might be tackled once a week or once a month and I am hoping a visual reminder helps me out this year.

    As a previous comment mentioned, I too face challenges with RSS in my reader since I monitor a few different industries.

    To manage it, I use folders but mainly use a scan of all the headlines and read those I find interesting or useful.

    Recently I set up other email accounts that are industry specific, that also works if I want to auto post a list of my most interesting finds of the week to the appropriate blog.

    Since I have not used HootSuite I think I’ll give it a try.

    Glad Mari shared your article!

  • College Term Papers

    It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had fun writing this article. Excellent entry! I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.

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