What is Netnography?
It’s the study of individuals, communities, and cultures. Online. It’s also one of the best ways to gain insight into your audience’s thoughts and perspectives on a subject, brand, or issue.
Instead of launching into a textbook style explanation of netnography research, we decided to do something more imaginative and illustrative.
So, without further preamble… we’d like you to meet Bob.
He belongs to a community. He goes to work. He coaches Little League.
He attends sporting events. Goes to concerts. And refurbishes old cars.
That’s his offline community.
It’s defined by proximity, convenience, and chance.
But he also has another community online. He’s on Facebook. He writes reviews of concerts, and posts on his favorite team’s discussion forum. He writes a blog about cars; seeks advice from parenting communities.
This is Bob’s online community. He is a nexus point for a variety of discussion subjects.
Let’s say Bob attends a concert of his favorite arist: Bob Dylan. After the concert he writes a review on his blog and posts a comment on a Bob Dylan message board about his experience and a link to his review.
So do Steve, Harry, and Jack.
A dialogue begins on the message board and the comments section of the blogs.
Bob’s opinion is represented, shaping how other people view the concert, and in turn, allowing other participants a platform to provide their perspective.
Viewpoints are made clear and the participants either come to consensus or clarify deviations in points of view.
Over time, you can see how Bob’s viewpoints change, how they integrate within the community, and how representative he is of prevailing mindsets.
This is Bob’s online community.
This community is defined by subject, perspective, interest, and common viewpoint. Sometimes it’s geographically proximate. Sometimes it’s global.
We learn from Bob. But we also learn from the aggregate ideas of the community he represents and the themes common in all related community conversations.
These communities provide a crystallization of what people like Bob are thinking, saying, and doing.
And we don’t have to ask Bob a thing.
He participates because he’s passionate. He has chosen to have his voice heard. And we avoid the whole Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle thingy. (You know, where interacting with an observed, changes its actions)
Again, this is Bob. This is our world.
And this is our introduction to the ideas behind how netnography can be such a rich, valuable tool. We’d be surprised if you didn’t have questions at this point. We would love to hear them.