Using messaging apps in audience research: An approach to study everyday information and news use practices


Messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are an essential part of people’s communication practices, but have thus far received only little attention as a tool for data collection. In this article, it is argued that using established messaging apps in audience research can help to better make sense of everyday information and news use practices. Being already integrated into most smartphone users’ daily routines, providing easy-to-use solutions for the sharing of rich and context-sensitive data as well as an instant feedback channel, messaging apps make the documentation of one’s information/news use a familiar and convenient experience for participants that can easily be incorporated into their day-to-day life. Drawing on insights from two research projects focussed on young adults’ information and news use practices, it is illustrated how messaging apps can be utilized in qualitative and mixed-methods diary study designs. Reflecting on methodological and epistemological issues, the advantages and challenges of using messaging apps in audience research are discussed from the researchers’ and the participants’ perspectives.



Digital Journalism