Exclusive | It's about brand integration: BBM's Krishnadeep Baruah
BBM, one of the largest mobile social networks with over 50 million users, has been in the talking front off lately. As we all know, earlier BBM offered instant messaging for BlackBerry smart phone owners only, but sometime back BBM expanded its bouquet and offered their instant messaging platform to IOS and Android and has been in the talks about offering to Windows phones as well. The aim was to let users communicate in real time with the people who matter most.
But beyond expanding its reach and extending the platform to various networks, BBM has been seen associating itself with lots of events and on-ground activities.
Adgully caught up with Krishnadeep Baruah, Senior director, BBM Marketing, Asia Pacific to talk about the challenges and the growth strategies of BBM off-lately.
Let’s go back a few years and imagine the days when every hand had a Blackberry phone. The craze for BBM was visible, quite literally, but off late, BBM has been seen facing challenges after it expanded its bouquet to IOS and Android. Expressing his views on the same, Baruah said, "Actually to correct you, the entire phase and shift of BBM has been quite exciting for us. Having said that I meant that BBM is still quite new and at its nascent stage as it's been just few months that we extended to various platforms hence it’s too early to explain the challenges that we are facing."
2005 was the year that witnessed the launch of BBM and then people moved on to using different devices but the reason, as per Baruah, behind making it available to other platforms was their users and their need and love for the BBM service.
In terms of focus area, Baruah believes that building the product's reach and availability at different platforms; enhancing features and services of BBM to make the users experience better, richer and engaging; would be some of the key concerns for the BBM team.
Very recently BBM, was seen facing some changes in terms of making the user experience richer and better as new features like Dropbox service, voice calling and chatting, picture uploading facilities, new stickers with BB beta and much more. When asked whether revamping BBM recently in terms of adding new features was somewhere to keep up to the mark with competition, he said, "No not at all. The reason was to simply enhance our customer's experience. We are really proud of ourselves that within the span of 4 months we have been able to launch newer ways of engagement; added exciting features and especially for Indian market we have partnered with some companies like Micromax, Karbonn, Zen and Spice and have pre-loaded BBM on their devices."
With significant efforts and adding phenomenal ways of engagement and user experience BBM faced some challenges. Sharing his thoughts on that, Baruah told us that, since now there are two types of users that they cater to: one are those who have used BBM earlier and one is the category who have been aspiring to use BBM but could get a chance to use and are completely new to the service. "Hence the challenge was to make the experience of new users simpler and attractive but at the same time the challenge was also to hold back the existing users who have used BBM earlier and now are using on a different service platform", he added.
Also, BBM has recently announced BBM channels which is a new social networking feature within BBM that extends the sharing experience beyond your friend circle and makes you connect to the people, communities and brands you love and with similar preferences. It also allows the users to engage with brands and similar liking communities they love as it allows you to receive timely posts and participate by commenting on, liking and sharing posts, he mentioned.
Off lately, BBM as a brand has been doing a lot of on-ground activities with associating itself with some big properties like CEO's Got Talent, ad:tech and some others. The question here arises that whether these activities are leveraging the brand in terms of making
its presence felt? Baruah opined, "Yes of-course these activities have leveraged our brand value and presence. Also more than advertising in such properties we believe in engagement and integration. Like with CEO's Got Talent we made the CEOs build their BBM channels and fan page wherein they interact with their fans and followers and same philosophy that is of engagement goes with other events too."
Sharing his views on monetization and growth of BBM, he said, "As of now we are not looking at monetizing but we are focusing towards building our reach. Though the brand has seen and witnessed growth but more the more than monetary growth BBM experienced growth in terms of reach."
Though Baruah refused to share the percentage and number of growth but in terms of pricing and distribution strategies he said, "As of now, BBM is set to be free for download but going further down we will enhance our monetization strategies for BBM."
Well, though BBM has a lot of competition in the market but Baruah feels that competition is really important in terms of motivating any brand and feels proud to give its competition a strong fight which will help BBM to enhance itself.