What Is Digital Ethnography, and Why Should You Use It?

September 18, 2023

Ask the Expert, with Dean Browell, Chief Behavioral Officer at Feedback

 “We want to know if there’s a gap between what they’re saying when you’re courting them from a survey standpoint, versus what they’re actually doing out in the wild.”

 // By Jane Weber Brubaker //


How well do you really understand your target audience? Whether that’s patients, prospective employees, donors, or any other stakeholders you want to reach and influence, it’s easy to make incorrect assumptions about why they behave the way they do. In the digital realm, social listening tools help organizations hear what people say online, and analyze whether the sentiments they express are positive, negative, or neutral.


Dean Browell, chief behavioral officer at Feedback

What if you could take it back a step — before a technology platform makes assumptions about where people interact online — and listen to what people say when they’re being their most honest and transparent. Maybe it’s Facebook or X, but more than likely, they share the highlight reel of their life on those social media sites and don’t bare their souls.

But if someone has a serious health concern, or simply wants to join a tribe of other people at the same life stage in an online community, they are far more likely to say what’s really on their mind.

That’s where digital ethnography comes in. It’s a research technique that gets to the heart of the issues and provides listeners with truth — behavioral data — that enables them to respond appropriately, armed with the right assumptions.

Read our interview with digital ethnographer Dean Browell to learn about the process, what it reveals about unprompted online behavior, and how the insights gained can uncover new strategic opportunities.

This content is only available to members.

Please log in.

Not a member yet?

Start a free 7-day trial membership to get instant access.

Log in below to access this content: