Social media stalking—although it sounds creepy—has, in my experience, been quite fruitful. I’ve been labeled as the chief stalkologist at the DragonSearch office, as I have an innate way of finding out contact information for some of the hardest to reach individuals on behalf of clients. As web users become more sensitive to the type of information they share online, it is becoming increasingly hard to find even a simple email address for a blog.

For marketers and corporate professionals alike, there are plenty of reasons why social media research should be a tool in your repertoire. Whether you intend to use social media for public relations or investigating a prospective employee, keeping your social media stalking skills sharp is a must.

Social Media and Public Relations: Finding Who You Need to Know

Let’s be real—emailing the news desk of your local television station is not going to get your generic press release into the hands of a reporter. However, doing a bit of social media investigation can help you discover the name of the reporter who has covered stories similar to your pitch. Furthermore, social media stalking may reveal that journalist’s Twitter profile, personal or work email and LinkedIn profile.

Using social media for public relations can be tricky, so don’t assume it’s always cut-and-dry. Be sure you investigate the reporter that you are approaching. Do they Tweet a lot? Or are they more of a Facebook user? What stories have they covered in the past, what was their take and do they have any hot-topic stories worth following up on? If you know you’re target’s personality, the easier it is to write a pitch email (or Tweet) that is both personal and effective.

The perk of executing extensive social media investigation is that you may find your reporter writes for multiple publications. I have found that many journalists freelance for numerous publications at once. This can provide connections for future pitches down the road.

Social Media for Hiring & the Art of Applicant Research

Social media for hiring is über important, and I scoff at organizations that fail to even perform a simple Google search for prospective candidates. On many occasions, I have encountered peers who trash-talk their current or former employers on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Is this the person that you want working for your organization—someone who creates a digital smear campaign against your company?

A little social media stalking can uncover a lot about a prospective employee, including court records, affiliations and overall character traits. While I don’t condone discriminating against a candidate based solely on their online presence, social media research may reveal some major deal breakers. For instance, a candidate who vehemently opposes real fur may not be appropriate for a position in the fashion industry. Gathering some background information on a candidate also assists the interviewer with creating custom-tailored interview questions.

Social Media Investigation in Creating Business Opportunities

Social media stalking should not overlook the importance of networking and making a name for yourself within your industry.  Before marketing your brand (personal or organizational), you should invest some time into social media investigation of industry influencers and what they are doing that set themselves apart. Additionally, this helps to identify who are the important people to know in your industry.

When attending conferences or events, I always do some research on the speakers and high-profile attendees. I will tweet a few select speakers about a week before the event, explaining that am I excited to see their presentation and will hopefully have the chance to introduce myself following. This soft introduction serves to build a rapport with the influencer while minimizing the awkwardness and anxiety of approaching said individual at related networking events.

When has social media stalking in a corporate setting benefited your or your business? We’d love to hear your stories of success (or failure)!