By Jeremy Woolf, Senior Vice President, Global Digital Lead, Text 100

While the benefits of social media interactions are becoming more and more obvious, many people I speak with worry about the time it takes to build and maintain online relationships. Like any other business tool, managing a social media presence takes commitment, practice and discipline. To keep on top of social media, I follow three steps each day:

1. Community-building

While it’s tempting to immediately open Outlook in the morning and become bogged down with the day’s emails, it’s a good habit to monitor social channels before checking email. I also recommend maintaining a separate email / Gmail account for social profiles which simplifies profile management and prioritizing responses. My first five minutes are spent checking for new Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Google+ circle additions and LinkedIn connections and group updates.

When I check the updates, I make a point of not automatically following everyone back or contributing to all discussions. Consider things such as the kind of content the person shares and their online influence – a Klout ranking search can help here.

2. Curating and commenting

Set up Google Alerts for interesting topics and spend 10 minutes reviewing your Google Reader for relevant news and blog posts. While reviewing, look for breaking trends or opportunities to comment or share. If you’re pressed for time, flag an article using a social bookmarking or a notation tool such as Delicious or Evernote and comment later. Also make sure you cull LinkedIn groups and blogs that are no longer relevant – this will save you time and keep you focused.

When commenting on blog posts, make sure you read all of the post, review other comments, comment early and link only where the link extends the discussion or reinforces your point.  Also consider the time of day you tweet. Tools like Tweriod will tell you when your followers are most active.

3. Sharing as You Go

The final tip is to share throughout your day. My logic is that if you find a blog post, news story or video of interest, your audience is likely to feel the same way. Remember, the focus should be less what you want to say but rather what your community wants to hear.

Twitter is a great channel for sharing your daily web ‘finds’ and Google+ is also growing in popularity.

You can also synch up your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so content is shared across all three – this is a great time saver. To share selectively, use Google+’s Circles or Facebook’s Lists to post relevant information to different audiences.

Using this approach I’m able to keep on top of social media in less than 20 minutes a day. If you’d like more tips on social media management, I suggest subscribing to Text 100’s Digital Download newsletter and HyperText blog.