Happy Birthday BBM Channels! Why It Is My Favorite Social Network


bbm channelWhen I wake up in the morning, there are four things that I regularly check: my BlackBerry Hub, the weather, my schedule and BBM Channels. Twitter used to be on that list, but my social engagement, as well as my interests, tastes and perspective on what’s important, have all changed drastically. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t become a mobile hermit, looking to niche out a social media hovel for me to peer at the rest of society from afar (wow, does that ever sound bleak!).

Still, life changes have affected what and who I want to connect with. I don’t need to follow multiple accounts all reporting on the same topics, or to scroll through the same memes posted over and over again. Instead I count on BBM Channels, which just passed its third birthday, to help me filter through to real content, making it a more personal experience and the voice I’m looking for.

I’ve subscribed to Channels owned by individuals, communities, businesses or brands – and even created a couple of my own. I like a lot of things about BBM Channels, but here are the things I like most.

Navigation and Access

One thing I really like is the “app within an app” feel from having Channels within BBM. From BBM, I can access the Feeds, and I can filter entries even further by tapping on the Channels tab. I can quickly scroll through all posts, from the most current on down, and if something catches my eye, I tap it to expand or interact with it. The Discover tab lets me view a hand-picked selection of Channels of various genres. I can also look through reposts on the channels I currently subscribe to; perhaps the channel owner has discovered a Channel that I would also find entertaining.

While Discover shows me what other Channels have to offer, I spend most of my time under My Channels. I like its grid view, which produces a colorful, sometimes animated collage of the avatars and icons of each of my subscribed Channels.

If a random thought crosses my mind, chances are that someone has created a Channel for it. “Search Channels” under the menu enables me to find related Channels by keywords.

Social Media at My Pace

Sometimes days go by without checking my social media feeds. By that time, I’m either stuck scrolling through a slew of tweets or updates, or I potentially miss out on insightful contributions from others. BBM Channels feels much more forgiving of my tardiness, and I never feel out of touch, even with the most active of Channel owners.

If I want to be alerted when a preferred Channel posts an update, I can mark it as a favourite; that way I receive a notification each time a post goes live. Since BBM Channel notifications are available in the Hub, I get alerts about pertinent news, much like I do when I receive direct messages, chats, retweets or favourite tweets.

PRIVBetter Interactions

Most of the Channels I subscribe to allow people to leave comments on their posts. I can post a comment, and other people can reply to my comment to begin a conversation without risk of disclosing our personal information to one another. I enjoy keeping my anonymity and not being barraged with BBM invite requests, while still engaging in conversations with people I don’t know. Some Channels also offer the option to initiate a chat with the Channel owner, which I haven’t yet done on my own Channels, partly because I’m concerned about how much time I would have to respond. If I turn on the option, I think I’ll like using BBM Channels’ ability to set a personalized chat schedule, which allows owners to control when subscribers can connect, enabling them to decide how to moderate their activity and availability. I can determine an interactive experience that is mutually beneficial, without taxing my already busy schedule.

It’s All About Me

This might sound self-centered, but there’s a sliver of truth to it. BBM Channels is an easily managed means of posting, or microblogging. My posts vary based on my schedule, theme or mood. Reponses also vary based on the topics. I can ask a question in hope of getting a response or advice, share a story to spark a debate, or provide insight into who I am and what I do. I can control what I want to say, and I can delete posts I no longer find reflective.

One of my favourite features can be found on the BBM Channels website, outside of the app. I can schedule my posts for a specified date or time – enabling me to pre-write an announcement and release it the second it becomes public knowledge.

Engagement trends allow me to see visits, subscribers, likes and comments, and how they increase or decrease over time. This gives me a window into how well my account is being received without the need for a third-party service.

Channelling My Social Media

As I’m still dual-wielding a BlackBerry 10 device and the PRIV, I’ve taken to managing one Channel per device and enjoy the BBM Channel experience on each. I like following individuals, developers and brands, from Diary of a Joyful Girl [Channel Pin: C00019893] to Time [C003B8788] to Emberify [C002FEE57]; they’re all part of my life. Whether you create your own Channel, or just use it to gain information about topics that interest you, I think you’ll find BBM Channels a great addition to your social media footprint. What are your favorite channels?

About Ryan Blundell

Ryan has been involved in the wireless industry for well over a decade; currently managing technical communication, interaction design and content strategy for a Canadian wireless provider. He has previously been published on Innovation Insights, Business 2 Community, Everything Zoomer and CrackBerry.com. You can follow Ryan on twitter @ryanblundell

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