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Scout Messaging 101: The Short and Sweet of it

The do's and don'ts of prodding research participants in your projects.

Words by Kyli Herzberg, Visuals by Thumy Phan

Working with mobile participants through the "digital wall," researchers fret when a scout sends off-base entries or works on their own timeline. Whatever a scout’s reasons for lagging, you need your data, and deadlines loom. Now what?

First, remember our participants are just regular people. Often, they need guidance. Through trial and error, we’ve learned that “prodding, correcting, and questioning” participants are to remote research what “facilitation” is to a focus group.

Second, know that dscout has a tool for that! You can message scouts through the Manage area of the platform. Here’s how to use messages to get the results you need, when you need them.


Scouts have the best of intentions. Scouts may fall down on the job because of everyday commitments, but sometimes, subpar performance can be traced to confusing instructions or a misunderstanding of due dates. We’ve all read directions incorrectly before, right? Remembering that scouts are real people, not just icons on the digital platform, helps us maintain an empathetic and respectful tone. Do your best to stay sweet and upbeat.

Ask yourself

Was there language in the instructions that led the scout to misunderstand what I wanted? Would I send this text to a teammate that sits right next to me?

Bad example

Hi Sandy. You misunderstood the instructions, we wanted videos about your favorite CANDY, not any type of food. We need you to redo your entries.

Good example

Hi Amanda, Unfortunately, I think we got our signals crossed a bit about video content. In your next videos, do your best to submit your entries about your favorite CANDY, not any food. You’re doing great otherwise, keep it up!


On the flip side, if you don't remind scouts to stay on track, there's a chance they'll forget about their mission. Don’t wait until the deadline is imminent. And send kudos! Try to give virtual high-fives and fist bumps when scouts are amazing. Who doesn’t like to get a pat on the back for a job well done?

Ask yourself

When is the last time I reached out to scouts about this mission? If I were a scout, would I remember when/what kinds of entries I need to submit?

Good example

Happy Saturday morning! Don’t forget to finish submitting a total of 5 entries by midnight TONIGHT in order to complete this mission and get an invite to M3. Have an awesome Saturday, hopefully full of shopping with technology :)

Bad example

This mission will close in 30 minutes, so if you haven’t gotten your entries in yet, it’s now or never.


Downplaying an issue or deadline will leave scouts overly assured that they can submit things on their own timeline. Don’t beat around the bush. Be clear in what you need them to do, or they'll continue to be confused, or be frustrated by vague instructions.

Ask yourself

Is it obvious exactly why they’re being contacted, and how to proceed?

Bad example

Hey Ryan! Your entries are amazing, we love them! We love what you’re saying in your videos and open ends, everything is great! Remember, more details is always better! Thanks!

Good example

Hey Ryan, Thanks for getting started in this mission! We like your ideas so far, but please do your best to fill the entire 30 seconds of the video and write in complete sentences, so we get a full idea of what you're talking about. We appreciate your hard work on this!


Share information that gets the point across without sending them into a stupor. Don’t overcomplicate things with extra language. Too much muddled information, while well meaning, is often overwhelming and deters scouts from reading it all. Screen real estate is limited, so make it as short as possible while also communicating your point.

Ask yourself

Will they need to scroll (and scroll, and scroll) to read the entire note?

Bad example

Hi James, Thanks for checking in! We're happy to give you an extension until tonight to get in your entries in. We’re working on analyzing the mission data we got from everyone else right now, so try to get everything in by 6PM. If you can’t, 9AM tomorrow morning would be okay, too. The more entries we get tonight, the better, so if you have time, submitting one or two tonight would help us out a lot. Remember, you’re introducing us to different go-to snacks in your cupboard. Get creative and don’t give two different snacks the same name! Please let me know if you have any questions, thanks!

Good example

Hi Barry, Thanks for checking in! We're happy to give you an extension until tonight to submit 6 entries. Please let me know if you have any questions, thanks!


Know that most scouts have told us they take pleasure in answering big questions, sharing their opinions, and doing a generally awesome job.

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