Monday, August 15, 2011

BBM the Right Way

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is RIM’s prime edge over other smartphones. BBM is an instant messenger application included on BlackBerry devices. As long as the user has a BlackBerry service activated on his BlackBerry device, he could message anyone with the same service around the globe.

BBM uses the phone’s internet connection using either the mobile phone network or a Wi-Fi connected to the Internet. Thus, unlike SMS, a BBM user can exchange messages even where there is no mobile phone network coverage provided that there is a wi-fi access that allows the phone to connect to the Internet. Here are a few points to remember to BBM the right way.

Should I send an SMS or BBM? Starting a BBM conversation is the better option if network connectivity is not a problem. Aside from enabling faster and easier way of communication, you and your friend could also get to converse with not just words but also with pictures, voice notes, and emoticons with the BlackBerry Messenger. To add to that, it’s practically cheaper than sending multiple messages in a long duration (unless you’re subscribed to an unlimited promo).

Bottomline: BBM when available so that exchange of message is quicker; SMS when you just want to say something and is not expecting a quick response.

Adding Contacts
BBM is not like Twitter or Facebook where you add everyone and anyone, even strangers. The main purpose of BBM is to connect with family and friends and to converse and catch up, not merely competing with friends on who has the most number of contacts.

Bottomline: Introduce yourself properly when you add, so the person you’re inviting can decide if you’re to be added or not.

Voice Notes
When you get tired of pressing keys to get your messages across, the Voice Notes feature is there to act as a voicemail – this time, less the dialing and the risk that the friend you’re talking to is not listening intently. With BBM, your contact can conveniently listen to your voice note when the time permits.

However, BBM is definitely not a substitute for phone calls. Don’t be ridiculous to send a Voice Note in every BBM message. Know when to use the feature, such as when trying to make a joke or imitating a person or singing a song for which the expression cannot be sent via message.

Bottomline: Use it appropriately and timely.

Broadcast and Multiperson Chat
Know the difference of these two features. Broadcast is used to send a one-way message to contacts, just as the word is being used in news. Meanwhile, Multiperson Chat is a conversational tool for virtually meeting with multiple contacts. When you’re in a conference chat, do keep in mind that there are many people reading the messages. As such, only say what is necessary and what is beneficial for the purpose of the meeting.

Bottomline: Keep quiet when you don’t have anything worthy to share. If you get irritated, leave the conference or tell your contact that you don’t want to receive too much broadcast messages.

Pings, D and R
Getting attention from a BBM contact can be done by sending a “PING!!!” When a contact does not answer, it probably means he’s not available, not near the phone or just hasn’t noticed the Ping yet. Pings are acceptable once, but not on the second and third consecutive time.

Just the same, know the meaning of D and R. The former stands for Delivered (your message was sent to the server then to the phone) and Received for the latter (your message has actually been read by the contact). Don’t wonder why the person hasn’t responded yet, because chances are, he is doing many other things.

Bottomline: Be patient and learn to wait. Communication takes two to tango, so consider that the other person has a life outside BlackBerry or BBM.

This article is my twenty-sixth contribution to Manila Bulletin -- one of the Philippines' leading broadsheets -- published on August 10, 2011 (Wednesday) in the Tech101 Section. You can view the PDF version here.


I didn't know you could use BBM thru wifi, always thought you had to be subscribed to a blackberry service plan

I haven't tried it, but friends say that if you're subscribed to BIS in the Philippines, you can use BBM via WiFi in other countries for free. You can turn off mobile network and just use WiFi :)

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