Using BBM as a business tool

 

Uchenna Innocent

The BlackBerry Messenger, popularly called BBM, is one of the world’s most used social networking chat applications. Following its introduction to the Android and iOS operating systems in 2013, BBM is believed to be the most widely used mobile messaging platform after WhatsApp in Nigeria.

As of June 2014, BBM has about 85 million monthly users worldwide (WhatsApp has about 600 million monthly users as of August 2014) according to http://www.statista.com. It has since made mobile marketing and keeping in touch with clients, customers and (potential) business partners easier.

The majority of active BBM users deploy the social service mostly for business communications, advertising/marketing, publicity/promotions. In fact, you would hardly find a small business or start up that doesn’t have a BBM PIN on its contact details.

There are a couple of ways in which we can deploy BBM in communicating with our contacts. These include Personal Messages, Display Pictures, Broadcasts, BBM Channels, and Personal chats.

However, avid BBM users need to apply some decorum while deploying the platform in business communications.

Personal messages: Personal messages are simple status updates. It could be up for as long as you want and doesn’t infringe on the privacy of your contacts. PMs are more effective if updated often (could be with same content) as contacts are notified of updates made.

Display pictures: You have heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. You can update your profile with pictures or images that are relevant to what you do or sell. For instance, a fashion designer can update his/her DP with latest designs and craft. This will keep your contacts updated with your works and would easily contact you when a design catches their attention. A clear and attractive DP goes well with a perfect PM; something like, “check out my latest design! It is affordable…”

Broadcasts: BBM broadcast is believed to be the most effective method of communication on this social service. This could be true if used the right way and not “abused” or “over-used”. Often times people abuse it. Have you ever put off you phone or data for about three hours and when you come on you are welcomed by the annoying sound of incoming pings or messages and when you open it you find out one contact has sent about three to five BCs within the few hours of being offline? I bet most times you don’t bother reading all the messages (that’s if you read at all). As a general rule, a simple well timed broadcast is most effective.

Personal chats: I know you are thinking “I have many contacts, how can I possibly keep in touch with all of them by personal chat?” well, you can’t. So what do you do? Know your contacts by monitoring their PMs, BCs or updates in general. Then you could relate with them based on their interest, wants and/or needs.

BBM channels: BBM Channels are more interactive ways of communicating without having to infringe on the privacy of your contacts like with the use of BCs. It is more of a two-way communication process and not a one way broadcast. It works more like a feed where your contacts can subscribe and be in touch with your brand, product or service. This way, interactive conversations can be held and you are sure to reach an interested audience, since they subscribe to the channel themselves.

A simple guide:

Respect your contacts

Never ignore a message on purpose. It is impolite to read and ignore messages from your contacts. Besides, refrain from sending broadcasts (BCs) to your contacts at odd hours of the day. For example sending BCs at 1am informing your contacts of a product, service, business, brand, event is uncalled for. Monitor and know the most active periods on your list and key in to that period.

Also, if you send more than four BCs a day, then you may be tagged a pest by your audience. The fact is, your contacts become less interested in reading your BC messages. In some cases your chat is ended without even being opened.

Don’t be monotonous

Yes, your contact knows you sell shoes, but your messages must not always be about shoes. Be creative, tell them something else. Even TV stations that are free-to-air can’t and won’t bombard you with one programme or advert through the day. Make people anticipate your PMs and BCs.

Feel free to delete anyone who would always complain about your BCs or PM (that’s if you really do apply some sense of decorum). You do not need “bad vibes”. Water and oil can’t mix. It’s a misconception that the number of your contact is proportionate to sales or reach. Have as many contacts as you can manage, No less or no more.

Maintain relationships

We all have something to sell. It doesn’t matter if all you do with the BBM is share your thought, idea or religious beliefs as an individual or group, that’s still selling. So, keep to the rules. I know you use your BBM basically for sales, that doesn’t mean whenever someone says “hi”, “hello” or “good day” your first response should be “what would you like to buy?” That’s a turn off!

Do not forget you are dealing with individuals on a more personal level on BBM, so make them feel and have that sense of belonging. Ask them how they are, about their day, what they do, etc. As possible as you can have or/and form a relationship with your contacts.

Keep it short and simple

Keep this in mind: we are in digital media age. We are faced with more information in one day than our grand fathers could ever be exposed to in one year. This, invariably, means that we have more information and lesser time to process it. So prevent bulky or lengthy messages. Go straight to the point, give out less and people would want more.

With the help of social media sites and applications, doing business has become more interesting. You can explore these platforms and find out what works for you and your business, and gives you the edge in the competition to survive.

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