Im like you " Ive incorporated social media into my life during the past few years.  There are mountains of information on the Web to sift through on a daily basis while new services still seem to keep appearing on the scene every day.  It can all be quite overwhelming, cant it?

While Im not a rocket scientist at managing all of this stuff (but I will mention one at the end of this post), I have developed a simple workflow that I try to use to keep on top of things.  Since Ruud asked me so nicely to consider contributing to Processes That Rock, I was happy to comply.

Here we go, in a roughly chronological series of steps:

1. Check Twitter


I'll admit it, Im addicted to the ongoing group conference call of the Web.  I invariably check this website first whenever I start using my browser.  I check Twitter multiple times per day.  I dont use anything but the Web interface for Twitter.  Ive tried Tweetdeck and Twhirl, but I've never adopted them for the long term.  Other people recommend them and theyre worth using.

When Im using Twitter, I glance at my stream (I follow over 2000 people), then hit the @replies button to see if I need to check in with anyone.  I will occasionally do searches on various keywords using Twitter Search.  At this point, I can't follow everything at any level of detail; I just peek in from time to time to see what's happening.  Occasionally Ill post questions to see if anyone has some good advice or I might respond to other peoples Tweets.  Overall, this setup works for me since I use Twitter for personal reasons, not for work.

2. Check Google Reader


Im a staunch RSS feed reader user.  Over 95% of my feed reading is done within Google Reader.  I like the ability to switch between a full stream, groupings by category, and individual blog feeds.

In addition to my regular feed reading, there are a couple of other things that I do in Google Reader:

  • Read Shared Items from the people I follow in Google Reader (I follow the Shared items of 40+ people at present) " like Twitter, I dont pretend that I can read everything in there, especially if I dont check in for a day or two.  I generally check Google Reader several times per day.  I generally scan headlines to see if theres anything that looks interesting to read, but I rarely read through all feeds.  There tends to be some duplication between some of the people I follow, which cuts down on the need to read all of the feed items.
  • Share items " I share less than five items per session.  I sometimes add a comment to the Shared item to include my thoughts on the post that Im sharing.  Its a way to recognize good content and share support for my fellow social media enthusiasts.

3. Check E-Mail/Google Alerts/GTalk


Ill check E-mail several times daily.  I have several Google Alerts for various keywords that interest me.  Two of them are vanity searches:  one for my name, another for my blog name.  Occasionally those provide some interesting finds and new contacts.  It may seem egotistical to search for references to your work, but its just smart monitoring.  I get a couple of blog subscriptions and a few newsletters by E-Mail when I read whenever I get the time to do so.

I dont use GTalk as much as I did at one time, but I still use it about once a week to chat with one of my contacts.

4. Save bookmarks on Delicious


Although my Delicious bookmarking activity is made public through my FriendFeed account, its really intended for my own use.  I bookmark and tag items which I expect to reuse in the future.  Every couple of weeks I go through Google Alert messages (see number 3 above), scan through the links, and Ill bookmark them in Delicious with appropriate tags.  For example, Ill do this for the Google Alerts that I have for the terms creativity and problem solving.  I'll check out the links that look interesting, then bookmark and tag them for future reference.

5. Check Facebook


My Facebook network is mainly a repository of contacts that I know in real life.  Over time some of my social media contacts, who I generally have never met in person, are making their way into my Facebook account.  I have to admit that Facebook made a smart move to include Like and Comment features into the Facebook streams.  Its really made it more interesting for me.  And Facebook Chat, despite the occasional technical glitch, is very handy.  Facebook has made an amazing comeback this year, in my opinion.

6. Check Problogger community forums


This is a new addition to my social media routine; the forums are only about a month old.  However, Im really enjoying posting and reading posts here.  Im trying to be active and make a few new contacts here.  So far, so good.

7. Check Netvibes


I went to Netvibes from Bloglines.  At first the Netvibes interface seemed cool, but I came to like Google Readers better.  I maintain a few subscriptions here (some hobby interests and some personal blogs) that I check on at least once/day.  Long term, Ill probably stop using this application, but for now Ill keep it separate.

and a bit of

There are the things that I check at least once per day.

Finally, theres a handful of sites that I check less frequently.  These include:

  • FriendFeed
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon

There are all great sites but for one reason or another I havent made them a daily habit, although I used to be a frequent user of both FriendFeed and StumbleUpon, as well as other social news websites.  Nonetheless, I check in periodically to see what's new and interesting.

That's my routine.

Finally, I promised a link to a rocket scientist.  Well, hes not actually a rocket scientist, but hes become a leading figure in the blogosphere and within social media in general, known as an early adopter and power user.  For more advanced tips, you should check out this great post from Louis Gray: My Social Media Consumption Workflow

So, what kind of social media workflow do you use?  Any suggestions for our readers?


Mark Dykeman is an IT professional, blogger, and writer based in New Brunswick, CANADA. Mark writes at Broadcasting Brain and other fine blogs. You can also find him on Twitter at @markdykeman.