BBM Channels and Feeds Offers a Better Social Media Experience

The newest BBM Beta changes BBMC and Feeds, and I am so happy about it.

I’ve written more than once about using BBM as a social media platform. There are a few reasons for that. First off, I love BBM. It’s my most used app, and as I often repeat, it’s the first thing I check in the morning, and the last thing I check at night. When BBM introduced Channels, it made it much more than a chat app. It laid the groundwork for being a social media platform. But for the average user, it just wasn’t there yet. The latest BBM Beta update seems to be getting universal praise as being one of the best we’ve seen in some time. And a large part of that is due to changes we’ve seen in BBM Channels and Feeds

I mentioned the average user before, because the very basic feature set in Channels was exactly what I wanted. I’m old enough to remember Myspace. I’m old enough to remember when Myspace added all those features that made the platform almost unusable. I remember heading to a friends page, and waiting for all the graphics, GIFs, music, backgrounds, and what I will simply call junk, to load on the page. And then I remember when Facebook became public. And we all went running to Facebook because it was so simple. So basic. So clean. Just the information we wanted, without all of that… junk. And then, it happened. Facebook became filled with junk. But with Facebook, it’s not just that now you essentially need a map to traverse a profile page, it’s not just the junk, it’s what is happening in the background that is truly scary. It’s what’s happening with our information, and where our privacy has gone, that we should be really worried about.

I left Facebook last year, and have never been happier. We even deleted the UTB Blogs brand page. It has made no difference to the site. I’m happier without it, and I’d suggest to everyone else to do the same. But I haven’t left social media altogether. I still use Twitter, although much less than I used to. I like the format of Twitter. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s a timeline that you scroll through. Sure, we all have a profile page, but the amount of personalization we can do is minimal. A picture and header. What a lovely concept. There’s no games. There’s no multitude of menus and options which are probably being used to throw you off the path of what the company’s true purpose is. There’s no junk. I prefer it. Or used to. Before politics came into play.

Twitter has recently come under fire from both sides of the political aisle. One side for censoring them. The other side for not censoring the other side enough. It’s really quite disturbing when thinking about what this means for our future. But even if you do your best to scrub anything politically related from your timeline and who you follow, you’re still affected. Your timeline is no longer a timeline. Nothing is delivered to you in chronological order anymore. The people you follow are graded by the various algorithms, and the people which Twitter feels is more important for you to see, are brought to you first. Some aren’t brought to you at all, and you need to go looking for them. If you actually head into their discovery section, you will find that it is predominantly telling you who they would most like you to follow, and who they would most like you to hate. Twitter was a wonderful concept, short status updates, a few images, all presented chronologically with no judgement. That has changed dramatically, and I have a feeling I won’t be sticking around much longer.

But I still like social media. I like the concept. I just don’t like how it has been handled. And there is one social media platform out there that I feel gets it right, however it is still small, and truthfully, still missing a lot of features. It’s on it’s way to being a great platform, if we can get more users on it, and if we can get the users that are already on it to start using it as a social media platform. That platform is of course, BBM. The latest BBM update has brought some new features, and changed a few features, that are quite inviting to those of us that do use it as a social media platform.

The biggest change, is making two items more uniform. Two items which had very different purposes before, are almost indistinguishable now, and it is a dramatic improvement. Those two features are BBM Channels and Feeds

Prior to this change

BBM Channels were introduced as a social media platform within BBM. They were an extremely simplified, mobile only, micro-blogging platform. Users can create multiple channels, can make them public or private. A photo can be added, and a short amount of text, and posted. These posts can be viewed and shared. And that was essentially it. Many of us instantly took to the platform within the messenger. BBM Channels is where this website grew out of. But features were lacking, and never seemed to come. The platform hasn’t seemed to really grow, and there are many abandoned Channels out there. In any event, Channels offered us a way to follow, and see posts in a chronological format. But you had to actually go to those channels to see posts.

Feeds was a slightly different beast. We have one Feed, that is attached to our BBM ID. We can post status updates to that Feed, and photos. Much like Channels. However whatever we post, our contacts can see in their own Feed. What was very nice about Feeds, was that it also showed you posts from the channels you followed. But it also showed you a lot of… junk. For instance, every comment made to a picture in a group which you’re a part of. If you’re in a group that likes to comment on photos, this would really junk up your Feed. And in my case, it really made me not utilize the feeds as I was hit with a lot of what I don’t want to see.

Beta Changes

With the latest BBM Beta, we are seeing some real changes to both BBM Channels and Feeds as to their visual appearance. The appearance has become much more streamlined and modern, and BBMC and Feeds now look identical. If you are looking at your Feed, it looks the same as if you’re scrolling through your favorite BBMC’s posts. This was a bit of a shocking change at first, until I realized the implications behind this.

Further, there is some new functionality added to Feeds. Most notably, that we can now upload video directly to our own Feed. This is something which people have been asking to happen for a long time, on BBM Channels, and we now have the ability to do it in Feeds. Wait? Why is this in Feeds and not BBMC then? I have an idea as to why.

But first, my biggest complaint about Feeds has been addressed. They have been simplified. The junk is gone. We won’t see picture comments in our feed anymore. Now I’m not sure if this is because BBM chose to remove them, or if it’s because the way pictures and comments to those pictures have changed in the new BBM groups, but whatever the reason, I am quite happy with the result. Feeds are now clean. I see my contacts updates, and my subscribed BBMC posts all in one clean, uniform way, and most importantly, in chronological order.

Scrolling through Feeds looks exactly like scrolling through Channel posts.

The Future

These are some huge changes for users in this latest update. Things that we’re excited about, and some things we wonder about. There are of course things we want to see, and hints found that make us believe they are coming, but first, let’s address some of the items I alluded to before.

If BBMC and Feeds look the same, what are we supposed to use?

Both of course! This is precisely the area I am most excited about. It addresses something which I have been calling for, and does it in a way which should make even the most private BBM user happy.

In social media platforms we have friends or followers or whatever that platform tends to call them. If someone “friends” you on Facebook, then now you’re friends. They show up on your feed, you show up on theirs. And you can message each other. On Twitter, you can follow others, but if they follow you back, suddenly they can direct message you. Boo! Who want’s that? I certainly don’t.

I have been wanting a way to “follow” on BBM. After all, we have these Feeds where we can drop updates, but we want people to see them right? As it stands, only your contacts can see them, and if they’re a contact, that means that they can message you at any time. I wanted a way to follow someone’s posts without making them a contact. And that has been delivered by unifying the look and delivery of BBM Channels and Feeds.

Think about it this way, posting to your BBM Feed is for your friends. They can start a chat with you about what you post. They can like what you post. If you have made a comment on a BBM Channel, and have set your Feed to public, others can see your posts to your feed, but that is basically it.

BBM Channels should be used your public posts. People can search for you, people can see what you post, people can comment on those posts without starting a direct message conversation. And if you wish to allow them to converse with you, you can simply turn that option on, and turn it off when you want.

There is now a division between a public post, and a post for your friends. And those posts will all show up in the Feeds of those people which they were meant for. I would suggest every BBM user, head out and create a personal BBM Channel now. Treat it as you Twitter or Facebook page. Channel those items that are meant for the public to see. And use Feeds for those items which you want your friends to see. And if by chance, you are a super private individual, that never has anything they wish to voice publicly, that is easily obtained as well by not having a Channel, and setting your feeds to private. But if you do that, I’m here to say you’re  just no fun.

Why can I post videos to Feed but not to BBM Channels?

Well, we know our community. And we know how rumors get started and spread, and I’ve already heard that this spells doom for BBM Channels. With out community, we always tend to think any change spells doom for something. But I don’t think so. I don’t think so in the least.

We know that BBM Channels are very successful for BBM in their primary Indonesian market. I don’t believe channels are going anywhere. We know that Feeds are being positioned as the centerpiece of BBM. By giving us the ability to post videos in Feeds first, perhaps this is a way to get users more interested in using Feeds? I know my Feeds have exploded with activity in the last few days. People that I’ve never seen posting to Feeds are now doing it. This may be a strategic move to introduce people to posting to Feeds that weren’t before. Or it may just be that Feeds are higher on the priority list. I don’t know for certain, but I can surely see either of those being a reason. Will we eventually be able to post videos to BBM Channels? I imagine so. Especially after seeing how people are loving being able to post them to their Feeds.

What still needs to happen

We all have certain things we want to see happen in future updates. Video has been long called for. Only recently I’ve heard people asking for the ability to live stream. But there are a few things I think need to happen in order for us to be able to use BBM as a full featured social media platform.

First among those, are the ability to @ and #, even if it’s not necessarily the exact same way that we’re used to seeing. If I want to post to my feeds and tag another user in it, I need that ability. If there is a topic I want to address a post to, I need the ability to do this. This is what the @ and # do, and we surely need to be able to do this.

We also need the ability to comment on Feeds entries. We already can on Channel Posts, that show up in feeds. We need to be able to do that uniformly for status updates to feeds. There are items that people post, and I want to comment on, but I don’t want to start a conversation. I believe the groundwork is already in place for that. If you have posted to your Feeds, and someone has like that post, you will see a notification bell on the top right hand side of your Feeds screen. Click that bell and you will see your likes. Click a like, and you will see a heart, a comment bubble, and reply bubble. Those bubbles don’t work yet, but I bet we’ll see them start working soon.

The as yet unused comment and reply buttons.

Are you on the BBM Beta? Do you agree or disagree with my take on what we’re seeing? Will you be starting a personal BBM Channel so that you can post to followers? Will you be posting to your Feeds more now than before?

Let me know in the comments below.


Channels and Feeds


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.