Texting is an amazing and powerful platform for research because it gets you into people’s existing flow using tools they’re comfortable with–it’s why we made obvi text. However you go about it, there are some things to consider before you get started.

We should be instant experts on using texting as part of a digital diary study, right? Well, we’ve found that using texting in research takes a bit of practice. 

When we’re researching from our desks and behind a computer screen, it’s really easy to slip into “professional” mode. Remember when you wrote a gem like this into your last deck: "The moment that matters for green tea drinkers in the morning daypart is ..."

You know what the professional you sounds like in text messages to normal people? Like an alien robot that is randomly messaging corporate lingo. 🤖Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are 7 tips to do texting-based diary studies like a pro human! 


You are texting real people. In real time. Wherever they are at that moment. Be friendly, respectful of their time, and don’t be creepy. That’s it.

Tip #1: Use normal language. It’s not a survey.

Don’t program it like a long survey meant to be completed on a big screen. You want your participants to feel like they’re texting a friend.

Tip #2: Ask fewer, better questions. A good one: why.

Again, it’s not a survey, and they’re on their phones. Don’t ask 5-part questions. Ask a good one, and ask for an explanation. Give them space to respond!

Tip #3: Leave out buzz words. Save those for your boss.

We all use made-up but important industry words in our work. Just don’t do it in text. Save it for the presentation.

Tip #4: Keep it short. Don’t write an essay.

This seems obvi, but texting is all about short, easy-to-understand conversation. Don’t go overboard on your assignment length or complexity. 

Tip #5: Ask for media, including emojis. They’re on their phones, it’s easy!

There’s no better medium to ask for an emoji plus an explanation! As for photos or videos, they’re also fair game. 

Tip #6: Be respectful of their time. Don’t drown them in DMs.

Be selective if and when you DM participants. They have busy lives, not to mention they haven’t signed up to have on-the-spot 20-minute in-depth interviews with you.

Tip #7: Don’t be creepy.

Context is everything. Double check your language to make sure the meaning is clear and don’t ask questions you would not ask face-to-face.


Not So Good

  • Show us your cup of tea.
  • Does your cup of tea satisfy you?
  • How much does it satisfy or not satisfy you?
  • Which of the following benefits do you think most contributes to your satisfaction level?


  • Send us a photo or video of how you take your tea, and tell us all about how you make and enjoy it!