Follow brands and communities with BBM Channels, now available in open beta

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BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has come a long way since its inception as a pin-to-pin messaging service for BlackBerry smartphones. Today it’s evolved to become a real time engagement tool offering text, voice, and video chat as well as screen sharing capabilities. It connects friends, family, and colleagues across international borders as a true communication and collaboration tool. With millions of active fans of BBM worldwide, continued growing integration from the developer community, and the new opportunities with BlackBerry 10, we’re just getting started.

What is BBM Channels?

Today we’d like to introduce BBM Channels; a new way to connect you to your social network and communities of interest. We see BlackBerry Messenger as a platform with endless opportunities for growth and for connecting individuals and groups to what they’re passionate about. BBM Channels allows you to connect to the communities, personas, and brands that you love – in real time.

Choose which channels you’d like to follow, and as a subscriber you can receive, comment, and share timely updates that allow you to stay on top of your interests and communities. Essentially, BBM Channels gives you the immediacy of an instant communications experience but with access to a much wider community.

BBM Channels

You also have the option to create your own channel – a great opportunity for large groups, brands, businesses, non-profit organizations, sports teams, and you to reach fans and followers. Simply setup a channel profile, add in a description and welcome message, upload an image, list contact information, and other optional information. Owners of a BBM Channel are able to manage and share content from both a BlackBerry smartphone and from a web-based administration console. You can customize your channel in a variety of ways, not the least of which is choosing to allow community forums threaded into the newsfeed or enabling one-on-one chat between owners and subscribers.

Connecting on BBM Channels

Once you register for the beta and download BBM 8, you’ll notice a new tab in the interface for BBM Channels. You can join a channel by browsing the carousel or using a keyword search, or through a channel’s PIN number, or QR code. Once subscribed, you’ll be able to see posts, content, and offers from your subscribed channels. You can also comment on posts, hit the Like button, and share interesting updates with friends. Here’s an overview of the new features:

  • Create a channel – Create, edit and publish in an instant and there are no limits to the number of followers you can have. Manage your Channel from either a BlackBerry device or from a web management console.
  • Discover channels – Check out the BBM Channels carousel to discover new channels. BBM contacts can share Channel invites within a BBM chat, and they also can be added via Channel PIN or QR code.
  • View – View profiles for each BBM Channel you choose to follow.
  • Subscribe – Subscribe and receive timely and relevant updates, giving you instant access to news, deals and events and choose to receive notifications when new posts are available.
  • Participate – Participate and engage in conversations with your favorite communities by “Commenting” and “Liking” posts from channels you subscribe to. Even chat one-on-one directly with certain Channels*.
  • Monitor engagement – Easily use built-in measuring tools to assess and monitor follower engagement and interaction

Why BBM Channels?

BBM has over 60 million monthly active subscribers, and on any given day 51 million of those individuals are each using it an average of one and a half hours. This is an incredible level of engagement and represents a significant opportunity for you to get the word out there about your business, community, or cause. We focus on the mobile needs of people, while other social networks are desktop-first. Our BBM customers are sending and receiving billions of messages each day – and over 50% of those messages are read within 25 seconds!

We’re continuing to innovate with BBM and explore new ways that it can be leveraged as a real time network of closely monitored conversation and communication.

What’s new with BBM version 8 for BlackBerry OS 5 through 7 and BlackBerry 10 smartphones?

  • Enhanced Navigation – BBM 8 offers tabbed viewing for quick and easy access to contacts, chats, groups, recent updates and BBM Channels.
  • Enhanced Profile – BBM 8 allows you the option to share your enhanced profile information with BBM Contacts – such as your birthday, gender and location.
  • BBM Channels – Connecting you to your communities of interest.

Join the open beta!

BBM 8 with BBM Channels is currently in open beta for BlackBerry OS 5 through 7 and BlackBerry 10 smartphones; register now by heading over to www.blackberry.com/beta.

How will you use BBM Channels? Share in the comments below and discuss on LinkedIn.

About Luke Reimer

@Luke_Reimer is an Enterprise Marketing Manager at BlackBerry helping to design, launch, and manage enterprise marketing programs - particularly concerning content across digital mediums. Beyond spreading BlackBerry goodness in enterprise communities, you can find Luke cooking up a storm, out on his motorcycle (when Canadian weather allows), or digging into a good science fiction book.

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