BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Best Practices: Six Tips's BlackBerry black-belt Al Sacco shares tips on how to get more from RIM's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) mobile IM app, avoid common pitfalls and keep your device protected from related security threats.

Tue, February 02, 2010

CIOBlackBerry Messenger, Research In Motion's (RIM) mobile IM application that uses unique "PIN" codes associated with every BlackBerry to connect RIM smartphone users, isn't new. But due to the BlackBerry platform's rising popularity, BBM--which you can think of as a mobile version of AIM or Google (GOOG) Talk that only works with BlackBerrys -- is suddenly getting a lot of attention. And not all of it is positive. In fact, Web-security-software-maker McAfee recently posted a warning about BBM spam and hoaxes on its TrustedSource blog.

BBM Profile Screen
BBM Profile Screen

To me, BBM is a valuable tool that I use every day for immediate contact with important colleagues, associates and family members. But the app can subject BlackBerry users to unnecessary risk if used improperly or without a certain degree of caution.

Here are half a dozen BBM best practices to help ensure that you get the most of your BBM experience while avoiding any potential trouble.

Add New Contacts Sparingly

This is the most important point in my post, so I'll say it again: Add new contacts sparingly.

I know I'll catch some flak from some of you loyal BlackBerry users out there who seem to be playing a game in which the goal is to gain as many BBM contacts as quickly as possible. But the value in BBM, for me at least, is that it's not just another IM service--I have BeeJive for that.

BBM Chats 

BBM Chats List

BBM users add new contacts in a few ways: 1) You can share your unique PIN with others and have them invite you, or vice-versa; 2) you can add new contacts by sharing e-mail addresses associated with your BlackBerry smartphone; and 3) you can "scan" other BBM users' unique PIN-barcodes with your BlackBerry's camera--assuming you're using the latest BBM version (5.0).

I only connect with colleagues, family and friends who I want to be able to communicate with instantly, at any time. And when I connect with someone on BBM, I mostly expect him or her to respond to my message as quickly as possible. And I know most of them expect the same in return.

So, to the point: Do NOT share your BlackBerry PIN or barcode with just anyone; Do NOT post your PIN or barcode on your public Twitter account or any other social network; Do NOT include your BlackBerry PIN or barcode in your fixed e-mail signature.

Are you getting the idea here? Good. Furthermore, you don't have to accept all BBM invites you receive. (More on that coming up in the BlackBerry Groups section.) Don't worry about hurt feelings or bruised egos. Your BlackBerry will thank you.

On that note: There's really no right or wrong way to use BBM. But there are smart and effective methods of employing the service. Adding tons of contacts defeats the purpose of BBM for me and diminishes the app's overall value.

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