Robert Kozinets is an example of a rare phenomenon, somebody who intellectually and personally dominates a field of research, through his teachings, blog, webinars, and most importantly his book, ‘imaginatively’ named Netnography.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a webinar by Kozinets, provided by NetBase as part of their 11 for ‘11 series of Webinars (you can download the slides and view the recording on their website).
Kozinets key points were:
1) Netnography is firmly grounded in the traditions of ethnography and anthropology, in particular the immersion of the researcher in the lived, everyday experience of the participants. Like ethnography, netnography is not a specific method, it is a messy approach, usually employing participant-observation to gather data and producing a rich description of people lives, at least partly, in terms of the participants’ perspective.
2) There is a clear demarcation between netnography and social media monitoring. Both can be interesting, each can inform the other, they are very different. Social media monitoring reads thousands or millions of posts and counts and calibrates what is happening, what people are saying, and in some cases who is saying what to whom. Netnography adds context to the picture, it looks at what people are saying in terms of their lives, culture, and rituals – but in doing so it has to focus on smaller numbers.
3) Netnography can be of real value to conventional brands with conventional research problems. Amongst the examples Kozinets showed was the result of research he had conducted for Campbell’s Soups, looking at communities who share recipes, producing information that informed a re-design of the Campbell’s website. Another project quoted was one by Hyves for Nivea, which explored how people talk about clothing stains, for example white on black clothes and yellow on white; the result was Nivea’s Invisible for Black and White product.
4) Netnography is a premium product, it takes longer, it requires specific skills, it can therefore cost more, but you can get richer insights.
The webinar covered a number of other topics, such as the ethics of netnography and the need for informed consent, but I will leave these other topics to the slides and recordings.
I warmly recommend that you view the recording of the session (ignoring the odd glitch) and if you find your interest aroused I recommend buying Kozinets’ book.
NetBase are to be congratulated on putting on such a good session and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for their upcoming webinars.