Ah, the last weekend of August and time to get organized for “school”. When I refer to “school” I am actually referring to school or work. Whether you are the student prepping for a return to the classroom, headed off to college or university for the first time, or a returning student – a little time spent on your social networks can set you up for an impactful back to school autumn.

Thinking of “back to school”, we can also use the timeframe to think “back to work” as well. Time to consider back into the work stream and refining your social networks for the business year ahead, following summer vacations and time away.

Who to Connect With

If you already have your social networks up and running, this is a great time to re-assess your networks and think about those people that you want to ensure that you are networking and connecting with socially or in a more formal and purposeful connection. Some provocations for whom to connect with include:

  • Newly hired employees…have you connected with them on their networks
  • New classmates
  • The new professor, tutor, assistant
  • Student Groups you are planning to join or events to attend
  • Community Not for Profit you are going to assist
  • Parents’ group page
  • Student Union
  • Workplace social committees
  • Work group or study group peers
  • Your summer friends and colleagues – maintaining connections through the winter
  • Summer events that you enjoyed – looking forward to next summer, calendarizing
  • Travel destinations, profiles, Trip Advisor (have you posted your reviews ?)
  • Housemates and their parent contacts in case of emergency
  • Your close colleagues and their contact information
  • Newly elected officials – election mean change in contact information
  • Refreshing important contacts in your data base, culling those no longer meaningful

If you are reading this blog and have not set up social networks for yourself, I can provide some coaching on that. Be sure to leave a comment below and we will connect.

Powering Up your Networks

Summer has likely had you spending a fair amount of time with family and friends, sharing highlights of your summer. You may have spent a fair amount of time on photo sharing platforms like Instagram or Flickr and connecting with friends and family on Facebook. With summer season almost behind you – you might now want to think about your social networks and their set up for the school or work year.

  • Is your content viewable to “all” ? Make sure you have your privacy settings where you want them?
  • Have you made your “Twitter List” of summer friends to keep in touch with?
  • Have you created your “Twitter List” for this new season, or updated last year’s list?
  • Have you updated your LinkedIn profile “professionally” for the coming year?
  • Have you determined what groups are most relevant and interesting for you on LinkedIN?
  • Is your bathing suit avatar photo parked and replaced with your “school” or “business photo”?
  • Does your background or header photo display the right context for this time of year?
  • Have you planned your Facebook ad “campaign” for that special project you are planning?
  • Are those “friends” most appropriate in that channel ?

Planning Deployment of your Social Networks

I am a huge believer in ensuring that whatever social networks you deploy – you deploy with purpose. Some thoughts of purpose may include:

  • Twitter as a “newsfeed” with interesting folks you follow, and for those who follow you
  • Facebook as an anchor with friends, family and those closest to you
  • Facebook “page” or “event” for things that you are involved with
  • LinkedIN for outreach to a professional network of colleagues, prospects, staff, academics, interest groups
  • Instagram for photo sharing
  • Vine for that 7 second video clip
  • Periscope for live streaming
  • Hootsuite  or Buffer to coordinate all your social streams
  • Google+ for that unique stream of like minded individuals
  • Shared workspace – perhaps a DropBox account or Google Docs as good baselines
  • Measurement tools (Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Hootsuite, Buffer, Bitly, Sniply)

Each of these networks or tools can play a slightly different role in your communications efforts. You will intuitively place yourself and the conversations you want to engage in within these various platforms. And, by the way, you might just choose “one” to be your central communications channel – there is nothing wrong with that !

Connecting With Others’ Social Networks

Depending on your interests and plans for the year ahead, you will likely want to connect with friends, colleagues, study or work group associates through common social networks. There are some natural places to connect with like minded folks or find those events and groups that are most interesting to you. A couple of suggestions include:

  • Facebook events or pages or interest – a quick search through the search bar will get you there
  • LinkedIN groups – search via subject of interest and see the multiple choices pop up
  • Twitter Search – always great to search or generally on Twitter #hashtag for topics of interest
  • Google+ will also provide a powerful search within Google+ and of course google as a search engine
  • AllTop can play a great role in centralizing blogs and websites of interest to you

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

My intent here for you was to at least get you thinking about a bit of planning on your social networks as the calendar flips to autumn.

By looking forward in the calendar and the year – you can determine how best to put your social networks into play as meaningful communications assets.

Social Networks are as strong as you put them to use. Focus on where you want to generate news and conversation is your call and in your command. Have an awesome “back to school” season. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork