obvi recently announced 100% text-only diary studies. What does this mean for your research? For starters…

  1. Anyone with a cell phone that can text (hey T9!) can now participate. Or those with smartphones with broken cameras. For smartphones, emojis still work. 💪
  1. No broadband necessary. Those with limited or no wifi access can participate. Videos are incredible windows into people’s lives, but they eat bandwidth for breakfast...and lunch...and dinner.  

  2. It’s personal...and quiet. If you’re researching sensitive topics, text provides a more private communication channel. Participants may not always have the private space to share more personal thoughts through video (especially right now!).

Now let’s talk about a few ways to get the most out of your texting only diary study. I’ll use a fictional project: an exercise machine company is looking to get into apparel and wants to explore sentiment around workout clothing. (It’s the same one in our product demo, btw)

Write your assignments as texts, not as survey questions.

This is the most important thing to remember—your questions will get the best response if they feel like actual text messages, not a chatbot. Use being a real live human to your advantage!

Good: “Where did you buy your last set of workout clothes, and what did you get?”
Bad: “Which of the following stores do you shop at for apparel? [long multiple choice list]”

Get personal.

Text is super intimate. Because we’re so used to sharing our lives with each other through text, it can offer a way to ask questions that might be more difficult to ask in person.

Good: “What’s the grossest part of your workout clothes? How do you tackle it?”
Bad: “Which of these represent the worst problem for you?” [list]

Ask a well-timed, individual follow-up question.

Used sparingly, a specific follow-up direct-message to a participant personalizes the experience more and shows them that you’re listening. Don’t do this all the time unless you’ve agreed upon it in advance. Be attentive, not annoying.

Good: “Interesting! Where’d you hear about using vinegar in the wash?"
Bad: “Where’d you hear about using vinegar? How long ago was that? What brand do you use? How much does it cost? How much do you use?..."

When we created obvi text, this is truly what we imagined: remote research that’s personal, and natural, like real-world communication. There’s so much you can learn from how people communicate in text that you simply can’t learn from any other format.

Follow these tips to make your remote research feel more natural for your participants...and for you, too.