We all know to do our research before going to that job interview or important client meeting. Did your research involve stalking your target though? No, because we are taught that stalking leads to restraining orders and the opportunity to shower with people twice the size of us.

In an era where social media is fast becoming intrinsic to our day to day lives, there is generally a lot of information about us online because of what we post. Recently, a woman lost her job because of a photo she put on Facebook of a party in the care home she worked for. Puggles the kitten might be cute to show your friends, but is it worth getting your P45 over? Ok, Puggles is probably safe to post, but where do employers draw the line? What do business associates look for in your profile when seeing if you’re right for them?

Another reason people look at others online is to find the best way to sell to them. Have an interest in League of Legends? Have you heard about the new Razer BlackWidow keyboard? And whilst we’re at it, why not indulge your gaming side even more by pre-ordering Razer’s new smartphone?

There is a fine line between looking at someone as a potential investment and snooping, or even potentially discriminating (when looked at from an employment point of view). Yet companies on both side of the pond are turning to social media stalking.

Now, I’m not here to preach. Get fired — I don’t care — but at least be educated before you go. Before I lead us on to my favourite part of the blog – the stats – let’s talk details. The findings are from a survey conducted by CITE Research, on behalf of SugarCRM, that looked at 400 business professionals (200 from the Queen’s country and 200 living the American Dream). Those who partook were employed full time at director-level or above in a sales or business development role, working for a company with at least 100 employees. The main purpose being to try and define what technology stacks should look like for a modern sales team.

As technology progresses, the sales role is ever-changing and it’s rather unclear to a lot of business leaders how to keep that department successful. Hard sales is gone. No-one wants a toaster anymore, they want a service. They still want a product, but due to the technicalities of what’s on offer to today’s crowd people want – and need – aftercare. Aftercare for a good price at that. It’s too easy to look around at the competition thanks to Google, comparison sites and the largest online social connection history has seen to date. Brand loyalty seems to have gone out the window almost entirely, so what’s next? Let’s get back to snooping, shall we?

America – 60% of your companies are turning to Facebook as their tool of choice when researching for prospective client meetings.

Britain – 46% of your companies are doing the same.

This leads to an average of 53% of companies using Facebook. I don’t know about you, but the thought that, for every 2 meetings I have, 1 of those had looked through my Facebook, slightly distressing. The chronicle of my late teens, documented by angsty photos and opinionated comments is something I rather wish didn’t exist anymore. My early twenties, of National Trust landscapes and photos of my dog (a very handsome boy I might add) is fine though.

It’s not even a quick search either, 72% of research sessions last 30 minutes or more whilst a staggering 49% spend at least 45 minutes in the following areas:

  • LinkedIn is king (or queen) of the castle with an aggregated score of 64%.
  • In a close second comes a company’s website at 63%.
  • Google is third on 61%.
  • The aforementioned Facebook – fourth at 53%
  • Twitter even makes an appearance, coming in fifth with 34%.

Research shows that millennials are more likely to look for their prospects on the social media giants Facebook (59%) and Twitter (41%), whereas the over 55 crowd favour the company website (83%) and LinkedIn (76%).

So what does this all mean? I feel it’s easy to put a negative spin on things. At the end of the day, we all need to keep a closer eye on what we post online, but once we do it leads to quite a positive outlook. We are paving the way for future tech that looks to not only improve our journey as a customer but also give us access to tools that help both us and our companies. It generates opportunity for you as entrepreneurs to enter the market and turn sales on its head. Become the stalker, not the stalked.

If you have any comments, or if you want to get in touch and talk tech (or my dog), stalk me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook.