‘Positive stalking’ – is it really a thing?

I met a gorgeous woman last week. She approached me in a crowded room and said, “I’m only here for you. I’ve been watching you and reading your blogs and posts for months and I needed to meet you. I’ve driven for an hour to be here, so can we talk?”  This gorgeous woman then invited me out to lunch, which is where I was today, enjoying great food and company in the sunshine, with a like-mind.

Now, if I was single,and if I was so inclined, I may have read this approach as a proposition. Or, if I wasn’t in the business I’m in and therefore able to read the subtext, I could easily have been highly weirded out and worried about her stalker-ish behaviour. But the thing is that in the circles I run in, in a professional sense, this kind of behaviour is actually the highest form of flattery.  In fact I commended her on her ‘positive stalking’ (a phrase I coined about 12 months ago when a similar thing happened to me), and she just laughed, knowing full well I wasn’t offended or turned off by her approach.

You see, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or simply lurking around social media in invisible mode, you’ve probably experienced someone paying attention to what you do. It may only have been for a moment, but it will have happened. And by the way, you have no doubt been returning the favour. And that’s not a bad thing, at least I don’t think so. Because, why else are you there??

Stalking, in its traditional sense, has hideously awful connotations. It conjures up images of dirty old men in trench coats hanging around school yards or parks. And NO-ONE wants to be considered a stalker in the offline world. However, nowadays, people often use the term to flatter each other – if you’re being stalked it means you’re interesting or worth watching.

The online world, in particular social networks, has meant the term ‘stalking’ has taken on a significantly different meaning.  There are a whole range of activities that could be classified as ‘stalking’ which effectively water down the creepiness typically associated with closely following the activities of another person. Somehow it’s become ok to follow someone closely online, in a way that peeking through their windows at home will never be.

When I post photos and thoughts onto social platforms, my intention is to attract the sort of people who resonate with me and who need my help. By carefully collating words and images that speak to my ideal client I am HOPING that they will follow me, watch me, engage with me….stalk me. To all intents and purposes, I am in fact encouraging people to ‘stalk’ me on my business page and in my groups. That, my friends, is the nature of social media marketing for business purposes: To attract the attention of the people you hope to eventually sell your goods to.

Same goes for blogs. I write mostly to let others know what I know (demonstrate expertise) and also to build empathy. I want my readers to see or hear themselves in my stories. I want them to resonate with a part of it so that they can see that I have what they need. Sometimes the pieces are cathartic and indulgent, but that is usually a bi-product, not the intention. Blogging is the place to attract followers (read: stalkers) in a much more meaningful way due to the sheer length and amount of detail you can include.  Your stalker gets a lot more bang for their peekaboo buck on a blog!

To take this concept to the extreme, it could be said that content marketing is a prime conduit for stalking.

By producing content that is interesting and by portraying yourself in a way that piques curiosity, you are in fact inviting people into your world – asking them to follow you and watch you.

Now, you could say this was ‘positive stalking’ right? The kind of stalking where it’s all for a good reason? The kind of stalking where no harm is intended, but rather, good will result?

My thoughts are quite clear on this matter, but it does make me wonder how others feel about this notion of ‘stalking’ online and whether ‘positive stalking’ is actually a thing. I work with a very many people who are so scared to post anything about themselves beyond their business that I would hazard a guess that there are some vastly different opinions to mine out there.

Are you offended if someone you know calls you a stalker? Do you consider yourself to be a stalker because you follow people online? Is there a point where ‘following’ becomes stalking? Are you flattered if someone announces they are stalking you?

Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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