Since its public launch, Facebook has become integrated into our daily lives. The more connected we become as a society, the more desensitized we become to sharing our private information in the public sphere.
For those of us in the prospect research world, however, this constant sharing of information has been a boon. Facebook is an excellent source for self-reported information on past and present employment, family connections, educational background, and interests. It’s also a great place to figure out whom your prospect may know, either personally or virtually.
One little-known trick on Facebook is to mine a prospect’s “friend” connections to determine the strength of his or her connections to other prospects. The process for this mining is simple and involves a particular web address:
In this address, you simply replace USER1 with the profile name of the first prospect and USER2 with the profile name of the second prospect. For example, if we were to connect musician Seth Swirsky with musician Mike Ruekberg, we would use:
From the resulting page, it’s easy to tell how long they have been Facebook friends and that, not only are Seth and Mike friends in actual life, but they’re also in a band called The Red Button that has produced at least one album. The page also lets you know which friends Seth and Mike have in common, which may be useful when helping a development officer determine who should sit together at a gala or event table.
The only downfall of this tactic is that you can’t use it with public figure or business pages, just with individual pages. I have to thank Miguel Ivars for introducing me to this topic. It has been invaluable in my research.
If you have any questions about how to use this neat trick on Facebook, don’t hesitate to contact me!
Emily Davis began as a research associate at the Indiana University Foundation and was promoted to development analyst in 2011. In addition to assisting her science- and health-related clients with research, she has completed research for the IU and IU Foundation presidents as well as on international prospects. She received her undergraduate degrees from Ball State University and her master’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington. In her free time, she enjoys completing freelance editing and formatting work when not watching Thomas the Train with her toddler.