How BBM Channels Are Leading the Convergence of Social and Mobile Media


BBM ChannelsMass marketing — reaching the largest number of people possible — used to mean national TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Not anymore. Today, mass marketing is increasingly happening through mobile and social media. BBM Channels combines the best of both.

BBM Channels is a social networking feature inside your BBM app. A BBM Channel is like a Facebook page or a Tumblr blog in that it’s a place to post messages and pictures, and also interact with people. But because it lives inside BBM, Channels is all about facilitating conversations, helping you directly connect with brands you like and chat with others about topics that interest you.

Keep ’em Separated

At its heart, BBM is a mobile messaging app, a tool that allows you to securely connect with colleagues, friends and family in real time. BBM has also evolved to become something bigger: a platform where consumers and companies can directly engage with each other in the mobile economic ecosystem.

BBM is both these things, and Channels helps keep the two functions distinct. No one likes ads showing up in their chats, interrupting conversations. And, when engaging with businesses and brands, most of us would rather participate in a two-way conversation instead of being on the receiving end of a one-way broadcast.

BBM is #1 in Engagement

Of everyone who uses BBM, 72% of them use the app daily, as I mentioned in my post about monetizing BBM. That metric is an industry standard called daily active users, or DAU. And BBM’s number beats that of both WhatsApp and Facebook. Among social mobile apps, ours is reputed to rank highest — and that’s valuable to know.

High engagement is one thing; network effect is another. The “network effect” simply means that a network is more useful when more people use it, and it absolutely applies in this case. Think of any social media you use. With just a few people, it’s not so interesting. But once the whole office, your entire family or your school class is posting, it’s much more compelling.

The same is true for BBM, and Channels are helping it grow into an even more useful network. They provide a direct marketing opportunity for blue chips, big brands and small businesses. As the underworld boss Eddie Temple quipped in the movie Layer Cake: “The art of business is being a good middleman.” Granted, he was talking about illegal drug dealers, but the general principle holds true. BBM Channels can play a middleman role, facilitating business in the mobile ecosystem by providing a platform companies can readily use to engage with customers so they don’t have to build their own apps.

For Example…

  • Sports teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs (C0009053A) and Fútbol Club Barcelona (C0027665E) post news about draft picks, player trades, upcoming games and other team news, inviting fans to weigh in and talk smack.
  • The Gaming Report (C00015A31) community connects 78,000 gamers from all over the world, posting news about PlayStation and Xbox games, and hosting conversations about them.
  • Magazines Triathlete (C002CE00E) and Rolling Stone (C0043760A) post photos and link to breaking news and popular online content.
  • Airlines Virgin Atlantic (C00120AC7) and Garuda Indonesia (C0014CC61) promote services and special deals.
  • Amazon posts a “Deal of the Day” for Canada, the UK and the US.
  • The channel for Shaun the Sheep (C00124C49), a kids’ cartoon character, features fun holiday-themed photos, updates and links to video content for fans of the TV series. On Pancake Day, fans shared the special ingredients they’d be adding to their breakfasts.

And it’s not just businesses and communities. Individuals start channels too. One of the most popular is BlackBerry Photography (C00016D81), where you can globetrot in pictures captured all over the world using BlackBerry devices. The Misadventures of a Comic Nerd (C000E21B6) channel chronicles the interests and exploits of “a regular guy that loves the Comic Book Culture.”

Start your own channel to post photos and updates for friends and family, or to connect with people who share your interest in a particular topic. When you join a channel, you can like, comment and chat.

From Advertising to Mobile Commerce

The focus today is sharing information and advertising. In the future, Channels should be able to take you directly to a transaction and facilitate payment. Because of our rock-solid, industry-leading security, BBM is perfectly suited to become a social mobile commerce platform. We already integrate with iTunes, Google Play, and the Windows Phone store through the BBM Shop for sticker purchases. Now we’re looking to expand our one-click payment options by adding PayPal and “Login and Pay with Amazon.” Stay tuned for more on that later this year.

Today, BBM Channels can connect you to people and topics you care about and brands you like. Tomorrow, it’ll be handling financial transactions, making getting what you want faster and easier. And it won’t interfere with your #throwbackthursday photos.

About Matthew Talbot

I am the Senior Vice President - Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry. I have extensive International Management, Sales and Marketing background in Mobility and Cloud technologies, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Content in both a “Start-Up” and Public company environment. This includes stints as a senior executive at SAP, Sybase, Mobile 365 and others.

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