Posted by Flux on 

8 May 2012

What’s trending now?

Stalkology as a Lifestyle

Following people used to be seen as strange and unnerving to general society.  Nowadays we brag about the numbers that make up our TweetStreet, and we create Facebook profiles with pictures accessible to just about anyone.  This has led to the development of stalkology – which the Urban Dictionary terms as knowing someone’s life in significant detail.

Why it’s important?

Stalkology is important for three reasons. Firstly, its very existence testifies to the way in which we view access to information as a right. Online privacy is close to dead and the extension is that ‘stalkers’ should be and are able to access significant details about our everyday lives. And that’s pretty unnerving to a great many of people today.
The second reason that stalkology is more important than you think is because behind this trend of data accumulation lies the truth that it is no longer only the minority of the socially awkward who stalk or follow online, but is actually the majority of people. This may be a result of several factors; as society pushes couples to reveal everything about themselves before marriage, as magazines praise blog-stalkers and personal-gossip-seekers and as the online world begins to further ingratiate itself with life offline. In effect, stalkology not only echoes society’s open-policy-sentiment, but promotes it.

The third consideration which makes stalkology important is that slowly people are realizing that one can find a perfect fit for just about anything, if one searches for it correctly. Whether it’s finding the perfect date, product or holiday destination, there now really is no excuse not to ‘pre-test’ what you want by looking it/he/she up in significant detail. An interesting thought is whether becoming skilled at doing this might soon become a feasible career path…

What’s the butterfly effect?

The exciting news for business is that it too is able to engage in the practise of stalkology. If consumers are able to research products and brand reputations, companies ought to be doing similar research on them. We all acknowledge that gone are the days where information asymmetry was an accurate description of the majorities of industries.
The big question therefore is how best does business go about accumulating precise customer data? We already know that traditional LSM labels don’t hold and that niche tribes are proving more valuable to marketers and so there is a real need to stalk and reclassify customers.
Stalkology also bridges the divide between creepy and fun. It fills a gap. It compromises. We want to find ways to do things previously taboo, but still be seen in a positive light for doing them! This is a call to companies as outrageous as PETA to be more careful in what image they portray. Find ways to compromise between what people want and what people are comfortable to say they got.

The pioneers and global hotspots

Technology appears to be bringing the first set of answers to this problem, with companies such asIdentityMine are developing apps aimed at seamlessly updating information between consumer and producer to enhance the shopping experienceby helping the retailer access customer preferences.
The often-cited, but equally valid example of a company which literally stalks its consumers is Facebook. Its business model revolves almost exclusively around its intimate knowledge of its users, and as can be seen with its valuation, clearly modelling offline, business behaviour on social, online behaviour is proving profitable.
Expect retailers to access and use intimate consumer data more liberally than ever, with little to no customer backlash.

By: Benjamin Shaw

About Benjamin

Benjamin is a broad-thinker, fast learner and passionate trend spotter.
He particularly loves reading about the integration of technology into society, and the role that entrepreneurs have to play in new South Africa.

Image credit: Gallo Images/ Getty Images

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