Leveraging WhatsApp for insightful Diary Studies: A practical guide

Jayne Parfitt
March 1, 2024

As user researchers, we constantly seek innovative methods to delve deeper into the lives and experiences of our users. Diary studies serve as invaluable tools in this pursuit, offering rich, real-time insights into users' behaviours, thoughts, and emotions. Leveraging popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp for diary studies presents a unique opportunity to engage with participants in a familiar environment, in a timely and cost effective way, while gaining valuable insights. In this blog post, we'll explore the merits and expert tips for conducting a diary study through WhatsApp, addressing when to opt for such a study and providing a practical guide to kickstart your exploration into this impactful research method.

Merits of conducting a Diary Study via WhatsApp:

Naturalistic Insights: Participants engage with WhatsApp in their daily lives, making it a natural environment for sharing thoughts and experiences without disrupting their routine. This approach significantly bolsters completion rates, addressing a key drawback of traditional diary studies characterised by high dropout rates.

Real-Time Data: WhatsApp enables researchers to capture real-time data, providing immediate insights into users' behaviours and reactions as they occur.

Rich Multimedia Content: Participants can easily share a variety of multimedia content, including text, images, videos, and voice messages, enriching the data collected during the study.

Global Reach: WhatsApp boasts a vast user base across the globe, allowing researchers to conduct studies with diverse participants from different geographical locations and cultural backgrounds.

Convenient Communication: The platform offers convenient communication features such as group chats, broadcast lists, and message forwarding, facilitating seamless interactions between researchers and participants.

Cost Effective: Traditional diary studies often incur substantial expenses due to the need for customised tools. By leveraging WhatsApp, this financial barrier is eliminated, making diary studies more accessible and budget-friendly for teams. With no added costs, WhatsApp offers a streamlined and economical approach, empowering teams to explore this option without financial constraints.

Struggling with research capacity?

Get 10x more research done with Askable, without the hassle

Let's chat

Mastering WhatsApp Diary Studies: Expert tips

Download the Desktop App: Maximise efficiency by utilising the WhatsApp desktop app. This allows easy access to set questions from other work applications, streamlines organisation with multiple chats, and enables seamless multitasking. Additionally, during data analysis, the desktop app significantly enhances productivity.

Beware of the Limitations of Voice Entries: While voice entries offer convenience for participants, be mindful of their limitations during data analysis. Transcribing and analysing voice entries can be challenging, impacting the efficiency of data processing. Consider supplementing voice entries with video based options for smoother analysis.

Keep Tasks Short: Maintain participant engagement by keeping tasks concise and focused. Short tasks facilitate easier completion and encourage ongoing participation. Engage participants further through follow-up questions as needed to delve deeper into specific topics.

Periodically Prompt: Sustain participant engagement by sending periodic prompts throughout the study duration. Regular prompts help maintain interest and motivation, ensuring consistent participation and a richer data collection process.

Encourage Authenticity: Foster an environment where participants feel comfortable expressing themselves authentically, encouraging open and honest sharing of experiences.

Provide Prompt Feedback: Utilise the real-time nature of WhatsApp by responding promptly to participants' entries with feedback and follow-up questions to maintain engagement and deepen understanding.

Enhance Your Study: Complement your diary study by conducting one-on-one follow-up interviews with select participants. This personalised approach allows for a deeper exploration of specific areas of interest, unlocking further insights and actionable outcomes.

The familiar environment and convenient communication channels of WhatsApp facilitate quick and meaningful interactions between researchers and participants. From prompt follow-up questions to sharing rich media like images, videos, and screenshots, every exchange is effortless and insightful

Scale your research with Askable

Run end-to-end research with Askable and get to insights 10x faster

Contact sales

When to opt for a Diary Study:

In a diary study, participants longitudinally self-report data, spanning from a few days to potentially a month or more, providing insights into their experiences and behaviours over an extended period. Here are some scenarios where a diary study could be particularly beneficial:

  • Understanding daily habits and routines
  • Exploring long-term behaviour change
  • Capturing in the moment experiences
  • Exploring sensitive or stigmatised topics
  • Tracking changes over time

How to conduct a Diary Study via WhatsApp:

Recruitment: Include a question in your screener to identify and recruit participants who are active WhatsApp users and represent your target audience.

Consent: Obtain informed consent from participants, outlining the purpose of the study, the expected time commitment, and how their data will be used and protected. (If you are using Askable, this is covered!)

Onboarding: Provide participants with clear instructions on how to participate in the diary study, including guidelines for creating and sharing diary entries on WhatsApp. When inviting them to WhatsApp, ask them to save you as a contact for the duration of the study.

Study Duration: Define the duration of the diary study, specifying the start and end dates for participants to submit their entries.

Data Collection: Encourage participants to create and share diary entries regularly throughout the study period, capturing their experiences, thoughts, and interactions related to the research topic.

Analysis: Analyse the data collected from participants' diary entries, identifying patterns, themes, and insights that emerge from their experiences shared on WhatsApp.

Reporting: Compile the findings into a comprehensive report, highlighting key insights, actionable recommendations, and real-life anecdotes gathered from the WhatsApp diary study.

Dive into Diary Studies with Askable

To get started on recruitment, you can use Askable’s market leading panel to recruit participants for your diary study. Additionally, Askable Plus researchers can run the entire study for you.

Jayne Parfitt

Askable Plus Researcher

Jayne is passionate about tackling customer and business challenges using design thinking and a human-centered design approach, with mixed methods research playing a central role. With over 15 years of experience in marketing, customer experience, digital product, and design leadership roles across various industries, Jayne has a strong track record in both discovery and delivery and brings a wealth of expertise and insights to her consulting work.

Latest articles

View all
By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.