The difference between cheating and playing smart is often a very thin line. In social media, the line gets a little thicker.
This is an exercise that I wish I had time to perform more often. There’s probably a proper name for it somewhere in the social media blogosphere, but I simply call it “Profile Peeking”. When you work in a niche the way that 90% of my time is spent in the automotive industry, you have to connect with the right people. Networking at events, referrals, LinkedIn – all of these are valid methods of expanding your network. However, they can be slow and I don’t like to wait, so I often peek in on my competitors social media profiles to find more people with whom to connect.
This is very effective on the three majors right now – Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ – but it can be applied to almost all other social networks. I’ve used it on Pinterest a few times. The bottom line is this – check other people in your industry. Look at who they are following. Find people that you should be following and that you hope will follow you back. Interact with them when possible (if their privacy settings are conducive to it). Then, check out who they are following.
It’s a path that can engulf you for a time, but it’s well worth it. In the game of network expansion, it’s often easier to find than it is to be found. Until you get to the point that you’re a known entity in your industry, being aggressive and reaching out to influencers is the fastest path to an improved network. With a bigger network comes more reach. With more reach comes more business. It’s pretty simple.