How to Find Your Social Media Peeps

There are a few things you need to know about me.

I’m a big fan of, in no particular order…

1) The music of ABBA (full disclosure: We listened to “ABBA: GOLD”  following almost every party we had in college. Yes, my friends and I were definitely not cool)

2) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

3) Refrigerated Twizzlers (I know, I know, it’s kinda weird but they taste REALLY good)

4) Conducting research

While I would love to blog about the greatest musical foursome, snack, and movie (Khaaaaaaan!) of all time, this post will focus on my love of research instead, specifically as it relates to Twitter.

In the Beginning

When I first began tweeting, I came up with the following “formula” to help guide my work.


This approach was (as it is today), pretty simple. If I could find the people I was interested in following, I could engage with them (e.g., retweet their posts, promote their blogs, share their professional achievements, etc.) and then “leverage” these connections; this would include followers responding to my “Questions of the Week,” retweeting my posts, and/or reaching out to me directly referencing my handle in their tweets.) The challenge, of course, is actually finding these “influencers” and in this post I’ll share some research approaches that have worked for me then and especially today.

Start With Twitter

Twitter itself is a useful resource, especially for social media professionals who work in higher ed. When searching for alumni, I include the handle of the school I’m interested in, as well as the word “alum” or “alumni” to sharpen my search. Below is an example of this approach– using my undergraduate institution, UMass-Amherst, as my search area.


Blog pic Research1a


Blog Pic Research1b

First, I add “@UMass Alum” into my search area, hit return, and then view the results. As you can see, individuals with “UMass Alum” in their Twitter bio come up and then, after confirming these tweeters are actually alumni, I can follow them. Naturally, this is a time-consuming endeavor, but it has proven to be one of the more effective ways of finding Twitter followers.

Get LinkedIn

With more than 250 million users, LinkedIn is where many job seekers and employers visit when looking to find or fill a job. This is also one of the first places I go to when I want to find Twitter followers. Like with Twitter, I take advantage of the site’s search capability to find what I’m looking for. But my LinkedIn process also has some unique features.

On LinkedIn, the first thing I do is access “Advanced People Search” (see below).


Once there, I toggle down to “School” and add the necessary information–in this case, “University of Massachusetts-Amherst”–and once I hit “return,” a number of profiles appear.


The next thing I do is open each profile and access the “Contact Info” field.


The alumna above happens to have a Twitter account, so after I confirm that she’s is, indeed, an alum I can then follow her on Twitter.

One of the drawbacks of this approach is that you will need to search every person’s profile. Unfortunately, there’s no way to globally search for alumni who are also on Twitter. But one of the benefits of this LinkedIn research approach is that each person you search will get a notification that you “viewed their profile.” In my case, this resulted in a significant increase in the amount of people who wanted to “connect” with me.

So, there are definitely pros and cons to searching for Twitter followers on LinkedIn, but in my experience it’s well worth the time to use this medium to find (potential) “peeps.”

Was this post helpful? Is there anything I missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Robert Bochnak manages social media for the Harvard Business School’s alumni office. He’s also the former writer and editor of GradMatters: The Blog for Tufts GSAS. 

Follow Robert on Twitter at


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