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What is Netnography? How Is It Being Used In Sales and Marketing?

You’ve all heard my thoughts on buyer personas, and the virtual ink is barely dry on that blog post, and I’ve already found a new and much better way of creating buyer personas.

Netnography has emerged as a much faster, more efficient, and more accurate means of creating buyer personas. One means of this is online research companies utilizing location-based social media data (geotagged) to analyze customers’ social interactions and preferences based on a defined area. These platforms can enable users to drag a radius around any location they choose, and scrape all kinds of data from people within that area.

Robert Kozinets, professor of journalism, is netnography’s inventor. In the 1990s, Kozinets, the Hufschmid Chair of Strategic Public Relations and Business Communications coined the term — fusing Internet with ethnography — and developed the research method from the ground up.

The Definition of Netnography

Netnography is the branch of ethnography (the scientific description of the customs of individual peoples and cultures) that analyses the free behaviour of individuals on the Internet that uses online marketing research techniques to provide useful insights.

Robert Kozinets

Netnography compiles and analyzes data about the free social behavior of individuals on the Internet. The key is that this data is collected when consumers are behaving freely, as opposed to research surveys in which consumers sometimes respond to prevent embarrassment or please the surveyor.

Buyer Personas versus Netnography Reports

Buyer persona research reports are composed of entirely objective data that are real indicators of lifestyle, product, and brand choices. Research analysts compile the reports and then create a profile of the segments of buyer personas for your product or service.

It’s an incredible tool for marketers because the data can be compiled quickly and accurately. Netnography is advantageous because companies can have their profiles compiled instantaneously rather than taking weeks or months to collect the research. That’s a huge difference from traditional research which can sometimes take months to compile and analyze. When you get that kind of research, your buyer personas will likely shift a little. Or even a lot.

So, instantaneously, you know who your most profitable customers are, what they are interested in right then, and how and why they interact with their peers.

This type of persona research delivers critical data about your most profitable customers including household income, ethnicity, pain points, goals, influences, activities/hobbies, and more. These reports may also tell you what websites or brands each persona is likely to work with and the top five keywords you can use to reach them.

A netnography report is a research report that presents the findings of a netnography study. It typically includes the following sections:

  1. Introduction: This section provides an overview of the research question, the background, and context of the study, and the research methods used.
  2. Literature Review: A summary of existing research on the topic and how the current study contributes to the existing knowledge.
  3. Data Collection and Analysis: A description of the data sources and methods used to collect and analyze the data.
  4. Findings: This section presents the study’s main findings, including key themes and patterns that emerged from the data.
  5. Discussion: This section interprets the findings and relates them to the research question and literature review. It also includes insights on the implications for the industry or specific target.
  6. Conclusion: A summary of the main findings, implications, and future research suggestions.
  7. References: A list of sources cited in the report.

Please note that the structure and content of a netnography report can vary depending on the research question and the industry it was done for.

What Are Some Ways Netnography Is Used In Marketing?

  1. Customer Research – Netnography can be used to gather data and insights about customers, including their preferences, attitudes, and behaviors. This can help marketers to develop more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.
  2. Competitive Analysis – Netnography can be used to gather data and insights about competitors, including their products, marketing strategies, and customer feedback. This can help marketers to identify opportunities to differentiate their own products and marketing efforts.
  3. Product Development – Netnography can gather data and insights about customer needs and preferences, which can inform product development decisions and help marketers create products that meet the needs of their target audience.
  4. Content Marketing – Netnography can gather data and insights about what content resonates with target audiences, which can help marketers develop more effective content marketing strategies.
  5. Social Media Monitoring – Netnography can monitor social media platforms and online communities to understand the conversations and trends relevant to a brand or industry. This can help marketers to identify opportunities to engage with their target audience and respond to customer needs.

Netnography can be a valuable tool for marketers looking to gather data and insights about their target audience and industry, and to develop more effective marketing strategies.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Netnography

AI is now playing a growing role in the accuracy of the collection, analysis, and predictions made with netnography data. Here are some examples:

  1. Automation: AI algorithms can automate the process of data collection and analysis, making it easier and more efficient to conduct netnography studies.
  2. Scale: AI can analyze large volumes of data from multiple platforms, providing a more comprehensive understanding of online communities.
  3. Advanced Analysis: AI-powered tools can perform advanced text and sentiment analysis, identifying patterns and insights that would be difficult for human researchers to detect.
  4. Predictive Analysis: AI models can predict future trends and behaviors, providing valuable insights for companies and organizations.
  5. Real-time Monitoring: AI-based tools can monitor online conversations in real-time, allowing organizations to quickly identify and respond to emerging trends and issues.

Using AI with netnography, researchers, sales professionals, marketers, and advertisers can gain deeper insights and understanding of online communities, and make better decisions based on this understanding.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Netnography report for your customers or competitors, don’t hesitate to get in touch with my firm, Highbridge.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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