“Social groups have a ‘real’ existence for their participants, and thus have consequential effects on many aspects of behavior.” (Kozinets 1998:366)


Netnography is a subset of ethnography that seeks to analyze community and culture through the comprehension of the uninhibited behavior of social interaction. It is often understood to be an interchangeable concept with “online social mapping,” as it translates many of the features of social mapping to an online community. It forms a part of the anthropology of cyberspace as it deals with the virtual ethnography of cybernetic systems – or the interrelationship between humans and technology.

Relevant Characteristics

Computer-mediated communication is increasingly becoming more of a tool for the consumer making decisions about purchases and lifestyle choices. Individuals use online mediums to exchange ideas and construct a collection of seemingly objective information sources. This data is related freely and expressed openly. The grasping of conversations and connections can provide useful insights through

“Method Made Easy”

  • Research plans and question developednetnography 2.jpg.gif
  • Data provided by mining social media (Social Networks, Bulletin Boards, Websites, ect.)
  • Data analyzed to provide consumer insights by the use of software tools (CAQDAS)
  • Results presented


  • Sociocultural online spaces mapped
  • Naturalistic perspective on branding and consumer innovation
  • Holistic view on marketplace and consumer choices
  • Understanding of the molding of online space into user’s own image


  • The term ‘virtual community’ suggests that these communities are less real than physical communities
  • People may not be who they seem to be
  • Loss of certain social cues due to reliance on primarily textual discourse
  • Ethical concerns over the “private” nature of online information
  • Ability to translate ethnographic fieldwork to online interactions (Clifford 1997:185)


Within Netnography, as opposed to the individual person serving as the unit of analysis, the social act becomes key. It stresses the cultural context of online data. This can be seen as a departure from an ethnographic representation (Kozinets 2006:279). Qualitative data analysis – including coding, data linking and data display – can easily be translated by software solutions such as MotiveQuest or BuzzMetrics.

Online Resources

Kozinets, Robert
2012 Netnography: An Overview (Schulich MBA class, Social Media Marketing taught byRobery Kozinets). Accessed October 6, 2012.

Mention Map
N.d. Mention Map. Accessed October 6, 2012.

Further Reading

Budka, Philipp and Manfred Kremser
2004 CyberAnthropology-Anthropology of CyberCulture. In Contemporary Issues in Socio-Cultural Anthopology: Perspectives and Research Activities. Khittel, Stefan, Maria Six-Hohenbalken and Barbara Plankensteiner, eds. Pp. 213-225. Locker: The University ofMichigan

Wilson, Samuel M. and Leighton C. Peterson
2002 Anthropology of Online Communities. Annual Review of Anthropology 31:449-467


Boellstorff, Tom
2008 Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Clifford, J.
1997 Spatial Practices: Fieldwork, Travel, and the Discipline of Anthropology. In Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. A. Gupta and J.Ferguson, eds. Pp. 185-222. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

Kozinets, Robert
1998 On Netnography: Initial Reflections on Consumer Research Investigations of Cyberculture. Advances in Consumer Research 25:366-371.

Kozinets, Robert
2006 Click to Connect: Netnography and Tribal Advertising. Journal of Advertising Research 46:279-288