So after much hubbub, MyBlackBerry™ has launched and is feeling the love from the BlackBerry® smartphone community. Now that we’ve fully jumped into the Internet’s social waters, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at how MyBlackBerry got started and where it’s going. There’s no better person to ask than MyBlackBerry’s Community Manager (and my boss), Becky Young.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am part of RIM’s social media team, that works on everything from the Inside BlackBerry blogs to the Facebook fan pages, and of course MyBlackBerry. Our daily lives are full of listening – a lot of listening! And then we try to take what we learn from listening and incorporate that into the building of our social programs.
For MyBlackBerry I am the project lead, supported by Rodney on the technical side and Rob on the marketing side, and of course quite a few other RIM employees who help us keep the site together (app teams, accessories teams, support services, IT…the list is HUGE!). My main role is to make sure we stay true to what people using social sites expect. It was quite a shift in thinking from “how do we design a site to tell people about BlackBerry smartphones” to “how do we design a site to help BlackBerry smartphone users talk to other BlackBerry smartphone users.”
What was the genesis for MyBlackBerry?
It has really evolved from where it began. The catalyst was mostly seeing web 2.0 and using web 2.0 tools in our everyday lives outside of RIM. With MyBlackBerry we wanted to do two things: create a place that is all about YOU and YOUR BlackBerry smartphone (not everyman’s BlackBerry smartphone – but yours) and connect this place to the largest BlackBerry smartphone community in the world.
The largest BlackBerry community in the world?
Well, when we started this project there was this dark cloud looming over our heads that said “but why will people join? They belong to enough communities already.” Not only that, but we have a vibrant user community spread across other social sites, so why would we go and create yet another place for BlackBerry smartphone fans? Our solution was to tear down the walls and bring all of our communities together. For people happy being a fan of our Facebook page, that’s fine. They can still be plugged in to the community discussion, and that’s what makes the community powerful. It brings people together from all over.
Were you surprised by the overwhelming interest in MyBlackBerry when it was first revealed? What do you think triggered that?
I was delightfully surprised by the interest. When the initial story came out in July that there was a site called MyBlackBerry, I think much of the interest came from the fact that no one really knew what it was, and only a handful of people had invite codes. Speculation of what it really was I think really contributed to the interest. We’re really looking to use that interest to drive the development of the MyBlackBerry community forward.
What kind of BlackBerry smartphone user is going to participate in the MyBlackBerry community?
When we were developing the site we knew it had to be open to non-BlackBerry smartphone users too, because all people use social sites differently. Some people just like to read or watch other people’s contributions, and we didn’t want them to miss out because they weren’t really the type to sign up for social sites. In terms of features, the people we developed the site for are the very active social media users: people who love to share their opinions, show off the special tricks they use on their BlackBerry smartphone, and spread the word about a new application they’ve downloaded.
Will we ever see BlackBerry smartphone rumors on MyBlackBerry?
MyBlackBerry isn’t trying to be like the other BlackBerry smartphone websites on the Internet – you know which ones I’m talking about. MyBlackBerry is about connecting BlackBerry smartphone users.
Explain the decision for the three main discussion areas (Applications, Tips and Tricks, Accessories).
We listened. And listening told us that BlackBerry smartphone users seem to like discussing applications, personalization (accessories for now, but we’ll be making some additions in the near future) and simple tricks. Being added to BlackBerry Messenger contacts also seems like a biggie, but there isn’t much you can discuss around that.
Even though it has just launched to the public, what is your favorite part of MyBlackBerry so far?
The discussion thread called “Introduce Yourself.” I love it! I love that the community came up with this.
When will we see MyBlackBerry launch outside of North America?
There is a lot involved with launching the site to other countries, especially when we have to consider all of the different languages to support. But we will be expanding, so stay tuned.
What’s in store for MyBlackBerry in the future?
This is only the beginning. The greatest thing about a community is that you can have a wish list of features but wonder if they’re the right ones. And then the community starts a thread called “Feature Requests” and you go “Oh, hey, look, I knew we were on the right track!” And like I said at the beginning, we’re listening. Some people were expecting more initially from MyBlackBerry, and that’s ok, because our intention was to start small and then work with the community to build what they want in a true web 2.0 fashion. It’s onward and upward from here.
Will you be my MyBlackBerry friend?