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Finding Social Media Handles

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

This article discusses simple techniques that can be used to quickly locate an individual’s social media profiles.

A Quick Look at the Numbers

It’s important to understand the percentages of people that are on or using social media platforms. This will give you some sense of the likelihood of finding a profile. As the data shows below, many, especially older adults, won’t have a social media profile on Twitter. In fact, only 1 in 4 people in the United States are on Twitter. For younger adults, this number is slightly higher and this is especially true for Instagram.

We do know that roughly 80% of all adults in the United States have some social media presence. And in order to run a social media background check, we only need one profile.

A Real World Example.

Let’s say Amanda Morton applied for a job and we are considering her for a position within our company. We know she is in the tourism business and works at the Arizona Office of Tourism in Phoenix. A quick Google search will return too many results and gives us little to go by so we start with LinkedIn so we can get an idea of her background and profile picture.

We can start our LinkedIn search using Amanda Morton but in looking at the dropdown list we don’t see her based on the job titles. We then try narrowing the results using her location e.g., Amanda Morton Arizona and we find her at the top of the list. A quick look at her profile and we can see her picture as well as where she attended school.

So let’s now try to find her on social media. In Ferretly, we create a new subject, and enter her name Amanda Morton and click Next. Note her name is filled in for the handle. Clicking on Find Profiles will bring up a list of candidates to choose from – these are called profile cards. A short scroll through the profiles and we locate her based on her profile picture we saw in LinkedIn. Ferretly provides the ability to zoom in on the profile picture by simply clicking on the picture in the profile cards returned.

Note, if we hadn’t found Amanda in this initial list we could have tried “Amanda Morton” Arizona. You can also link out to their social media profile by clicking the handle name in the profile cards.

We choose the correct Amanda Morton which we note her handle as AmandaMortonAz and click on Next. Once the profile is validated we click on Save. We now have her Twitter profile associated with the subject.

We continue in same manner to locate her Instagram account. Clicking on the empty Instagram card from the subject page will bring up the handle entry page with Instagram selected. We click on Find Profiles again and after scrolling through the results we don’t see the correct Amanda Morton profile. So we cancel the search and we try another method which is to use her Twitter handle name.

In the Enter Handle text box, we type in AmandaMortonAz and do another Find Profiles. Note that It is fairly common among users of Twitter and Instagram to use the same handle.

Now we can see from the profile picture that we have the correct Amanda. We click on Next to validate this handle. Ferretly returns an Invalid Handle in this case. This is normal for users of Instagram that have marked their accounts private. There is nothing more you can do here since none of her Instagram posts are public. We then click on Back to get back to the Enter Handle page.

Now we want to see if we can locate her Facebook profile so from the Enter Handle page you click on Facebook and enter “Amanda Morton” Arizona and then click on Find Profiles. After scrolling through the profile cards we locate Amanda from her profile picture and description. Choose the correct profile card and click on Select. Then click on Next to validate this profile. Lastly, click on Save to associate this profile with your subject.

We are now ready to run a background report.

Happy Ferreting!

Note: Names and social profiles used in above example are fictitious and only used to illustrate functionality of the application.