Netnography is the branch of ethnography that analyses the free behaviour of individuals on the Internet that uses online marketing research techniques to provide useful insights. The word “netnography” comes from “Inter[net]” and “ethnography” and was a process and term coined by Robert Kozinets. As a method, “netnography” can be faster, simpler, and less expensive than ethnography, and more naturalistic and unobtrusive than focus groups or interviews (Kozinets, 2009, del Fresno, 2011, del Fresno 2014). Netnography is similar to an ethnography in five ways: It is naturalistic It is immersive It is descriptive It is multi-method It is adaptable It provides information on the symbolism, meaning, and consumption patterns of online consumer groups (Kozinets, 2010) or online communities consumption unrelated but online sociability based on the exchange of information (del Fresno, 2011). Netnography is focused on cultural, symbolic information insights.
The book “Netnography: The Essential Guide to Qualitative Social Media Research” played a significant role in popularizing the use of netnography as a research method. The book provided a comprehensive guide to conducting qualitative social media research using netnography, covering various topics such as data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The author, Robert Kozinets, has been a prominent figure in the development and promotion of netnography as a research method, and his work has contributed greatly to its widespread use in the field of social media research.
Tips for Incorporating Netnography into Anthropological Research
Here are some tips for incorporating netnography into anthropological research:
- Clearly define your research question: Start by formulating a clear research question that you want to answer using netnography. This will help you focus your research and ensure that you collect data that is relevant to your research question.
- Identify the online communities to study: Identify the online communities that are relevant to your research question and that you want to study using netnography. This could include social media groups, discussion forums, blogs, or other online platforms.
- Select appropriate data collection methods: Choose the methods appropriate for your research question and the online communities you are studying. This could include observing online behavior, conducting interviews or surveys, or analyzing existing data.
- Pay attention to ethical considerations: It’s important to consider ethical issues when conducting netnography, such as privacy and consent. Make sure you have appropriate permissions and informed consent before collecting and using data.
- Use appropriate data analysis techniques: Analyze your netnographic data using appropriate techniques such as content analysis or discourse analysis. This will help you identify patterns and themes in the data that are relevant to your research question.
- Interpret the data in a culturally sensitive way: Finally, it’s important to interpret the netnographic data in a culturally sensitive way, taking into account the social, cultural, and historical context of the online communities you are studying. This will help you to draw accurate and meaningful conclusions from your research.