The Marketing Power of a More Human Web

What Makes the Biggest Difference? People Who LOVE to Help Others.

Some things should not be counter-intuitive, but they are.

The fact is that, despite the “muddy waters” created by “get rich quick” hucksters on the web, the web that I know and love is populated by some really good people who love to help others with their online businesses.

Yes, while it is true that the internet has many trolls and political “flames,” with this blog post, I would like to illuminate, via example, the dynamics of “the more human web.” It’s where I prefer to hang out, and it’s full of people and businesses actively creating meaningful, valuable relationships.

When Authenticity Pops-Up at You

Here’s a little story—and a new online course platform that I’ve discovered. It illustrates the fun and exciting ways that humanity can intersect digital marketing and business.

Recently, I was researching options for hosting an online course. Thanks to a referral by a new email provider, ConvertKit, that I’m using to segment and better target my various email lists, I stumbled upon the online course hosting platform, Coach.

As I arrived at the Coach website, in the usual way, I was immediately greeted by a live chat.

Because of my conversational nature, however cautiously (because these kinds of chats are not often useful), I began interacting with Spencer, the rep on the other side of the live chat. I presumed that Spencer was an agent, employed by Coach to help the sales process.

However, as we chatted, the banter was above average and his joyful enthusiasm for his online course platform seemed more authentic than I would have expected. He seemed authentically interested in helping. And then, much to my surprise, it wasn’t long before Spencer made it clear that he is one of the founders of the company.

How many founders have you seen on the front lines of customer service? I was impressed.

The truth emerged that Coach is committed to authentic engagement and exemplary personalized customer service, and their founder was walking his talk on the front lines. What more can you ask than to have a founder on the live chat, instantly ready to assist you?!? And, beyond my own instincts, the truth of Spencer’s authenticity was brought home when I discovered his enthusiasm for helping entrepreneurs via his personal blog post, “Why I started Coach: The 3 reasons I decided to launch my 4th company.” Both reasons #2 and #3 are about loving to help people.

Relationship Marketing: More Than a Buzzword

This is precisely what relationship marketing is about: The Relationship. And when it manifests organically like this, it isn’t a tactic. It’s not something that you can fake. It requires a company culture when the players genuinely care about the potential clients and how they can authentically help them. This goes WAY beyond tracking “engagement statistics.”

For me, when you find it at a company and a quality of service like I’ve experienced at Coach, I naturally want to become an advocate. Right here, right now, it’s fun for me to share with you about how this personal relationship evolved out of what is more often a mundane sales interaction.

Isn’t it only right that when you find this kind of relationship, you stay loyal to it and you tell others about it?

This concept is so simple, yet so few people actually make it a reality.

Taking Our Relationship to the Next Level

I’ve heard it said that what you focus on expands. I know the kind of web that I want. One that is built on authentic relationships. Thus, as a result, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Spencer and have begun to experiment with Coach (my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know” is already available via Coach here, and online courses on Squarespace website creation and Social Media for Social Action are in the works.)

And, more immediately (drum roll please), I’m also going a step further! Next Thursday, June 8th, Spencer will be my special guest on a Social Video Sandbox Session (my somewhat regular informal webinar-style interviews) where we will be sharing insights about online course creation. I hope you will join us and get to know both of us better!

Marketing Tip: I’m finding these kinds of live streaming video sessions to be a great way to extend relationships with members of my lists and online communities who are interested. More info and the opportunity to join us, click here.

The Real Bottom Line

It’s been a long held value and a core operating principle of mine that “business is about relationships.” When I speak and lead workshops (and also in my book), I articulate the fundamental goal of digital marketing to be “building authentic, long term, sustainable relationships.” Without that, I don’t think we are building a better world, no matter how much money we might make.

So, please be one of those people on the web that is doing good. When you do, you will find that you are part of wonderful networks or tribes of people that are doing likewise by “paying it forward.” If you’re not already working and playing in this way, try it. You’ll like it. It feels good and it works.

More importantly, this approach, in my opinion, is what makes doing business worthwhile.

I look forward to your comments please!

Video Invitation to a Breakthrough in Your Video Presence – Playshop Starts Tuesday!

As I explained in my last video and blog post, video via social media is The Next Big Thing and arguably the most powerful digital marketing strategy.

Last year, I also developed an amazing experiential process or practice called “Video Play Experiences™” that I am now bringing to you, no matter where you live, via a four-week Live Video Playshop (one hour of live video interaction per week) that starts next Tuesday, May 2nd. This post, “Social Media Video Marketing: An Experiential Breakthrough” tells the story of how I first developed the Video Play Experiences™.

Now, I want to invite you to The Live Video Playshop. The video below is your personal invitation from me. It explains more (and also shows off my new green screen and teleprompter) 😉

[callout title=”Learn More or Register for the Live Video Playshop” button=”Yes! I want to have a breakthrough.” link=”http://selz.co/4J6WP1r6G” buttoncolor=” blue” target=”_blank”]The Live Video Playshop is a 100% online experience using state-of-the-art interactive video collaboration including educational presentations, 1-to-1 video exercises and group interactions. Please join us.[/callout]

Digital Marketing Content Strategy: Why Social Media VIDEO is The Next Big Thing

Facebook Live Social Video: I Gave It a Try. Here’s What Happened.

IT ALL STARTED ON INAUGURATION DAY…

I traveled from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to protest during Trump’s inauguration and to be part of the Women’s March on Washington. I did a number of Facebook Live webcasts and the response blew my mind. One of the videos in that series (the second one below) has had well over 4,000 “views.”

How did that happen?

I got “high” with some help from my friends. Well, one friend in particular, Jeffrey Grimshaw who used a technique called “social bookmarking” that he learned from me. Go figure. 😉

Here’s our conversation recorded using Zoom Webinar and webcast via Facebook Live:

Here’s the Facebook Live video from the Mall in Washington, D.C. immediately after Trump’s Inauguration:

I’ll share more soon. For now here are two significant outcomes from this experiment:

  1. There’s been so much enthusiasm for social media action in response to Trump, including two different requests for educational programs about “Social Media for Social Action” that I’ve created a quickie website that includes those two course descriptions. Please contact me if you’re interested in a course like this in some form, in some place, or virtually.
  2. I’m doubling down on “Social Video.” It is going to become a major focus, including in some form on my Patreon channel (hint: this channel/community/tribe is a place where you can support my work if you are so moved.)

Much more to come. Stay tuned.

Social Media Strategy: So Much More than Tips & Tactics

Have you been seduced by promises of “get rich quick” formulas? If so, you are not alone. However, the truth of long term success is more of a “road less traveled.”

I wish I was here with a quick fix, but I’m not.

My experiences as a social media strategist and web marketing mentor tell me that if you want to make a real difference—both for our world and for your business—it’s going to take a commitment to a process, a journey involving experimentation and missteps, and perhaps most of all, a willingness to do some serious inquiry about why you are in this game in the first place.

Finding Marketing Inspiration

On my own journey to online marketing “well-being,” a couple of things have inspired me recently. They also inform the nature of the journey to meaningful, long term success.

The first inspiration came via a podcast that is also a Creative Live video. In this episode shown below, host and Creative Live founder Chase Jarvis interviews one of the true Internet marketing thought leaders, originator of the term “permission marketing” and author of 18 NYTimes best selling books, Seth Godin.

The part of this interview that jumped out at me is where Seth says at the end of the segment (15:51-21:09):

“We are living the most crowded creative universe in history… You are NOT entitled to ANY attention. You are NOT entitled to ANY leverage. BUT, if you dig ever deeper into the stuff that truly matters, you may EARN some attention.”

Ah, I love that phrase, “earning attention.” More noise, more content or even following some supposedly “magic” formula will not cut it in today’s marketplace.

Digging deeper in order to determine, over time, “the stuff that truly matters” is pretty much the only thing that will create authentic engagement.

In other words, if you’re not offering a product or service that is truly valuable and/or if your content doesn’t stand out as something exceptional, then it’s virtually impossible to be successful—no matter whose formula you follow. Even the most brilliant tips and tricks will not win you meaningful success.

Making Social Media Marketing Meaningful

The second inspiration that has uplifted me recently is the book, Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace.com and the “how to learn to meditate” app with the same name.

What impressed me about this book was the way that Puddicombe talks about what it takes for people to learn meditation and develop a meditation practice. I made an immediate connection to the way people try to learn social media marketing. Just like with meditation, people often give up quickly. In both cases—learning online marketing and learning meditation—people are required to become engaged in a process, take a journey. Again, no quick fixes, no “silver bullet.”

Usefully, Puddicombe breaks this process down into three stages so that people know it’s not a “one and done” kind of thing. First, he talks about learning how to approach learning mediation. Kind of like learning how to learn, but more explicitly he encourages people to think carefully about how they want to approach this kind of learning.

Then, in a second stage, he talks about how to develop meditation as a practice, how to implement it. And finally, he pulls it all together in a third stage, which is how to integrate your learning into your long term way of living.

In the case of social media marketing, this would be analogous to learning how to integrate your blogging or your social media posts into your ongoing business practices.

As a social media mentor and strategist, it seems to me that this kind of  three-stage, realistic approach makes very good sense. Especially because I see so much of what’s going on as being based on an expectation that goes something like this, “Hey, here’s a strategy (a formula etc). I’ll just sign up for this program; and before you know it, I’ll have a six figure income.”

That’s clearly bullshit, but even more than beyond those kinds of bullshit offers is the idea that we are committing to a process. It needs to become a practice. For example, Seth Godin recommends that people blog daily, and pretty much everyone says that meditation or exercise needs to be practiced regularly.

So, how do I recommend that you approach learning to do social media marketing?

I believe that ONLY with this kind of approach, will you be able to be who you truly are, communicate on a sustainable basis, and build the authentic long-term relationships that are necessary for meaningful success.

Inspired by Puddicombe’s approach, here’s my first draft of the three stages of how to develop a social media marketing practice:

  1. Learn How to Approach Learning Social Media & Your Messaging:
    • What really matters to you?
    • What meaningful value can you offer?
    • How is what you are doing different and an expression of your unique gifts?
    • Work with a coach or mentor to get started on the right foot, inspired by your own Authentic Voice.
  2. Get to Work by Experimenting Consistently So Content Creation Becomes a Practice:
    • Experiment in ways that nurture and develop your Authentic Voice.
    • Explore ways to enhance your value. Try blogging. Try video production. Experiment with webinars and video chats such as Facebook Live or Blab.im.
    • Develop a content calendar, a schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key.
    • Get feedback. Make requests of your audience for feedback via surveys. Develop a community or tribe of supporters you trust to give you useful input.
  3. Discovery How to Integrate Content Creation into Your Business Processes:
    • Allow content creation to evolve into a team effort.
    • Create alignment amongst your team—virtual or otherwise—so that your online marketing efforts are sustainable, easy and fun.
    • Establish business systems, “playbooks” and processes so that the high quality of your content can be maintained and continually improved.

The Marketing Road Less Traveled

As Robert Frost famously wrote:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My commitment is to your success, not just more money (that too), but most importantly the invaluable opportunity to make our world a better place.

May all of your success be well-earned with the icing on the cake of enjoying the journey.

I welcome and appreciate feedback via my various social media accounts. I look forward to hearing from you.

Finding Flow, A Higher Purpose & The REAL Bottom Line

Attraction Engine JL via PaperThere’s more to New Marketing than the traditional bottom line.

When I speak and lead workshops, I use terms like “New Marketing” and “Humanistic Marketing” to differentiate what is truly alive online from what is all too often useless noise. In my view, the “Alive Web” is empowered by the people power. I experience this humanity as the heart of social media.

This is clearly different than content where the focus is how to make more money. This difference is important to and underscores the dimensions of what I do that are most important to me. And, from a marketing perspective, this is a meaningful dynamic that leads to authentic engagement, meaningful value exchange and real relationships.

And, I think it’s also worth noting that all that noise and manipulative selling is what gives the ideas of marketing and engagement a bad name.

In this post, I want to focus on the “what’s most important to me” part; but, I’m not doing that just for me. If you are in my Tribe (and I’ll get to that), it is very likely to be what’s most important to you too. And, that is actually my point.

As my hand-drawn “Attraction Engine” iPad sketch shown to the right indicates, I’m a believer in the power of enthusiasm, authenticity, and leading with value. Those are the ingredients that lead to the kinds of meaningful connections that are beyond the more traditional marketing creative’s superficial positioning and messaging.

An Awakening & Authentic Truth-Telling

I realized in conversation with a dear friend today that I need to reach out specifically to you all, My Tribe, more often. I need to do this in order to expand my work in the direction that I want it to evolve.

The truth is that despite my own enthusiasm and the real value that I know I provide, like the rest of humanity, I can personally fall off the social media marketing communications track. I get derailed by my own resistance. We all know this truth: Resistance happens. And it’s important for me to name it by telling the truth about it when it happens.

My blog doesn’t lie. This is my first post since late January. Yikes!

Stepping into the Light

Thus, this new blog post (and the new content which will follow) represent the beginning of another reinvention or refocusing of my work and offerings.

Yes, I will continue to share about innovative social media and video marketing strategies, tips and insights; but the real fuel for what I consider to be meaningful success is my authentic connections with other like-minded people. I find those to be more important and valuable than I can express. So, while I’ve always been about better communications rather than just being about the exciting new technologies (as much as I love them too), I’m refocusing on the real bottom line.

The real bottom line for me is making the world a better place. I’m clear that that doesn’t come from more “noise,” nor fresh eye-candy, no matter how well crafted, no matter how efficiently delivered with the latest technological innovative automations, etc.

Successful communications (at least by my definition) connect people in meaningful ways and thus lead to collaborations and/or authentic relationships where real value is exchanged.

Are You In?

Tribe Circles by JL via PaperMy personal intention is to shine in a way that inspires and supports others to shine from their soul, reflecting their own Divine Purpose. (FYI, I’ve never spoken this spiritually in a business context.)

Ease and grace ARE present as animating forces when you allow them to be, but the necessary resting in and allowing of the “Sounds of Silence”—the slowing down and deep listening, the actual prayers for guidance—can be uncomfortable and require the development of a new skill. I’m working on that. Are you? If so, how can I support you? I’d love to hear from you about this.

Thus, what I am putting more front and center in the services that I am offering—albeit through my online marketing communications support—is fundamentally NOT about the “stuff,” i.e. the technology, nor the material success. It’s about the connections, the communities and the relationships. Truthfully, that’s the kind of abundance that I care about and value most.

Playing with My Tribe in Order to Truly Thrive

This expression, “Play with My Tribe to Strive” jumped out in another conversation recently, and it kind of summarizes what I’m talking about here.

First of all, I want to play. In a business context, what that means to me is that when I’m at my best and offering my greatest value, I’m having fun, playful, joyful and free. That’s the kind of relationships I want to have. Personally, professionally, and via social media. Wanting to have fun every step of the way is a quality I’m looking for in my ideal clients as well as in friends (both virtual and otherwise.)

Secondly, I know that what I’m doing and where I’m coming from won’t appeal to everyone. That’s GREAT! I’m interested in nurturing my relationships with authentic members of my “Tribe.” What I mean by that is an informal extended network of people who are also aligned with these same values (see above), who want to play together, i.e. collaborate joyously and communicate for mutual benefit and the highest good of all.

The thriving part then emerges through the soul-nurturing flow of acting in alignment with Spirit/Higher Power/Love/God (or whatever you want to call Her/Him/That).

I love the expression that some NBA players use: “Let the game come to you.” This approach is not about “making things happen.” It’s about opening, softening and allowing something even better than we can imagine to unfold. In my experience, when that Game comes to you, not only are ease, flow and fun readily available… “Resistance is Futile!” 😉

Are you in?

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts, encouragements and/or suggestions. Thanks!

Social Media Video Marketing: An Experiential Breakthrough

The absolute highlight of my live Playshop, “The New Rules of Business & Social Media Success,” presented last Monday with my coach and colleague, Andrea J. Lee, were interactive, smartphone-enabled exercises that I called “Video Play Experiences.”

A few of the participants learning to shoot social video during our Playshop.

Our Playshop’s Video Play Experiences.

These interactive exercises—illustrated by the photos in this post—opened up a whole new avenue for me to empower people to make their own videos. This delightfully surprised me and participant feedback ranged from real “ah-ha” moments to “getting over the hump” (i.e. overcoming fears of video’s challenges). Almost everyone came away with the feeling, “I CAN do video!”

 

The results of these exercises were a two-way breakthrough:

  • They was a real eye-opener for me in terms of how I can help people with these all-important skills and
  • They showed us all how doing more video (a requirement, in my opinion, in today’s social media environment) is just like any other skill: if you work at it like a practice (not unlike the practice required to learn to meditate, to hit a golf ball, or play a piano, for example) that you can make real progress, step-by-step, and the progress is rewarding in its own right.

A Unique Experiential Sequence

Susan Shloss of Susan Shloss Bookkeeping Services, http://shlossbooks.com, during a Video Play Experience.

And, these results were not only about video technology. One of my mantras is that “it’s about the communication, not just the technology.”

What emerged, as I was designing this day in collaboration with Andrea, was a unique sequence of exercises that not only let the participants stretch their technical capabilities, but they got to stretch their emotive abilities as well (as shown to the right by Susan Shloss of Susan Shloss Bookkeeping Services.)

During the course of the day, we did three (3) Video Play Experiences:

  1. The first was “A Rant.” I helped the participants to get emotional by directing them to do a video clip where they expressed their strong feelings about something. I modelled this for them in front of the room by ranting about how much I detest “get rich quick” internet marketers who claim to have a “magic formula.”
  2. The second Video Play Experience was a Vulnerability Exercise where I asked them to speak to the camera about something very personal, as if they were sharing something intimate with a life partner, a family member or very closer personal friend.
  3. Finally, in the late afternoon, I asked them to talk about “How I Serve” so that they could bring it all home to the kinds of value that they authentically deliver through their businesses.

Suzannah Rose, realtor from http://LivinginMarin.com reviews her video exercise.

The result was a kind of experiential learning that exceeded my expectations and clearly added significant value to the day.

A Valuable Digital Take-Away

Workshop exercises are often hard to remember and can quickly become ephemeral memories. Not in this case.

The fact that virtually every participant owned a smartphone meant that they were recording these exercise on their own devices. Because they would obviously take these home after the Playshop was over, the recordings are right there for them so that they can review them and continue to learn. The recordings, thus, inherently provided a record of the work that they did. So valuable! (Can you see the appreciation on the face of Suzannah Rose, realtor from Living in Marin in this picture?)

Another New Idea Emerges

Two participants who are also coaches, David Drake of http://narrativecoaching.com and Linda Curtis of http://honorableclosure.com engaged in video play.

One of Andrea J. Lee‘s favorite teachings is that “Anything worth doing is worth doing in community” and that added to the value of these exercises. (To the right are two participant coaches, David Drake of Narrative Coaching and Linda Curtis of Honorable Closure.)

The way that these Video Play Experiences played out was expressed through the enthusiasm of the participants for the exercises themselves, so much so that by the end of the day they invented the idea of Video Parties!

Now, as a result of their engagement and creativity—a true community collaboration—I’m thinking of both the possibility of follow-on “Video Party” evenings as well as a possible online, virtual Video Playground. Sound good?

I’d love to hear from you if you are interested in either of these, or if you have other ideas?

For sure, I am excited by the participant enthusiasm that we all experienced together, and, I am personally looking forward to more Video Play Experiences of every kind. 😉

Bringing Business Inspiration & Marketing Motivation to Mill Valley

Every small business person that I know sings a similar song: “I’m overwhelmed!”

Furthermore, for most of us, whether you are an entrepreneur or founder of a small business, the “rules” seem to keep changing. These days, there’s more to having your own business than just figuring out how to make money. For example, motivation matters and the whole meaning of “marketing” has changed. And that’s just for openers…

That’s why I’m honored, delighted and (no exaggeration) super-excited to be bringing my beloved friend, the extraordinary business coach, author, and leader, Andrea J. Lee to the SF Bay Area for a one-day workshop called “The New Rules of Business and Social Media Success.” She and I will be co-presenting an uplifting, informative and highly interactive “Playshop” that will include everything from decision making and relationship building to creating online video and social media marketing. All of this will be live and in-person on Monday, January 25th from 10am – 5pm in Mill Valley. You can register here. And, I even created this special video invitation just for you 😉

 

Please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever.

I look forward to seeing you there!

[callout title=”The New Rules of Business and Social Media Success” button=”I Want to Learn More or Register” link=”http://www.combridges.com/event” buttoncolor=”blue” target=”_blank”]An Inspiring, Highly Interactive, Experiential Playshop: Monday, January 25th, 10am – 5pm, Mill Valley, CA, USA[/callout]

What Pooping Unicorns Won’t Tell You About Video Marketing

It’s a New Media, New Video World.

Video is a communications technology that is changing everything. I ought to know. I have been thinking, writing and speaking about the digital video revolution for decades, literally.
This blog post includes the following content, all of which is designed to give you a fresh perspective on how digital video is changing our world:
  1. A very successful viral video (with pooping unicorns) that I think is exemplary
  2. The link to the audio recording of my Commonwealth Club presentation on “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”
  3. The SlideShare of that same presentation so you can click along as you listen
  4. The recording of a Blab video interview session that I did with Nick DeMartino, former head of the AFI Media Lab and Hollywood new media insider that provides additional insights and resources

1. What Pooping Unicorns WILL Teach You About Video Marketing

Stellar creativity, an approach that grabs your attention right from the start, and crisp, on-target writing (for example, “the stool for better stools”) make this marketing video a true stand out.
There’s no question that this video works amazing well. The close to 9 million views at the time of this writing, place it head and shoulders above almost every marketing video of a similar length in terms of performance and reach. And, it’s fun to watch, which is obviously a big part of why it’s working so well.


But the pooping unicorns video WON’T teach you about the ways that authenticity, human connection, relationship building are at the heart of video marketing. To me, that’s the important stuff; and you will find more about those kinds of things below.

2. Audio Recording “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”

[testimonial author=”Gerald Harris, Chair of Science and Technology Forum for the Commonwealth Club”]”Jon, great job! I want to personally thank you for a brilliant, engaging and thoroughly informative presentation at the Commonwealth Club of California.”[/testimonial]
It was my sincere pleasure to speak at the prestigious Commonwealth Club of California in late October. People have asked me for the audio recording. Here’s the link with the slides below that. The Club controls the recording so the only way to listen is to click this link and listen on their site:

3. SlideShare of “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”

If you’re in a hurry and just want an overview of what’s covered in my talk, or if you’d like to enhance your listening to the audio recording, here’s the exact slide deck that I used during the talk, via SlideShare:

4. My Video Interview: “Future of TV, Video Delivery & Digital Media” with Nick DeMartino

Nick DeMartino has been a video innovator for decades and we’ve shared information and a friendship that spans his whole career. It was a pleasure to spend more than an hour with him via a Blab.im video chat discussing, among other things, some of the trends that I illuminated in my Commonwealth Club talk. This interview includes lots of resources as well as insights. For your reference, most of the URLs discussed are in the YouTube description. Enjoy!


I’m confident that all of this information will tell you lots that the pooping unicorns could never express, no matter how creative they are 😉

I look forward to your feedback either directly via our contact form or via the social media links above.

And if you are ready for support with your video marketing, your social media strategy or your web presence, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you and to answering any questions that you may have.
Thanks for reading and/or listening and/0r watching 😉

Having a Blast on Blab: Learnings from the Launch of My New Social Media Video Show

I’ve been doing social media since the beginning of social media and I’ve never had a more uplifting experience of community and connection than the one I’ve had getting to know the new video conversation platform called Blab (http://Blab.im).

I created this graphic to promote last Friday's Blab session and shared across all of my social media accounts.

I created this graphic to promote last Friday’s Blab session.

Getting Started with Blab

Last Friday, I did my first regular Blab show ([email protected]) and it was surprisingly easy to do and successful. Word spread by social media, and we had people join in late in the show who said that they had heard buzz that we were “killing it” and that they should check it out. Unexpected delight. 😉

We had about 280 viewers who watched live at sometime during the 90 minutes we were on, a pretty steady audience of 60 or so more during the webcast; and, as of this writing, this program has now had over 308 viewers counting the Replay on Blab.im. And, as you will see below, I’ve also posted the recording to YouTube and thus the exposure continues to grow.

Those are just some of the reasons I’m excited.

Spontaneous Community

Part of the reason for this success was that I was honored to have author/speaker Joel Comm (“Twitter 3.0” and other books) as my featured guest. It was Joel who first told me about Blab… Well, actually I got the info from a post of his on Facebook. Joel has become kind of Blab Ambassador. If there’s a Blab “star,” Joel would be on the short list of “nominees.”

Then, to my surprise, as the Blab progressed (may I remind you that this was a live session), I was delighted to have blogging business veteran Darren Rowse join us (see image below). Darren is better known as Pro Blogger and has been a social media marketing thought leader for years. Others who just “happened by” included social media strategist Carlos Gil and digital marketing expert Pam Brossman who both offered some really useful insights and tips (a taste of which are included below). That’s the kind of spontaneous community “happening” it was and which the Blab platform fascilitated.

A Truly Transparent Company

Another guest that contributed a lot to my first Blab show was Brittnay Metz who is a Blab spokesperson and I guess you could say evangelist. For example, she’s the one who sends out emails to the Blab members, but she also spends a fair about of time on Blab itself participating, answering questions, taking feature requests, and generally monitoring and supporting the user base.

Brittnay told us, for example, that the company was really committed to staying at only 30 employees. She also talked about the fact that Blab’s engineers are going to be developing very sophisticated video analytics.

Positive Impressions of An Emerging New Video Technology

Both from what Brittnay said and from my own experience, it’s clear that Blab is making sure that their software really works. I’ve experimented with lots of video conversation platforms, and especially considering this is an early “beta,” Blab seems extremely stable. But Blab’s biggest strength is ease of use which, of course, is a very big deal.

All you need is a Twitter account and you’re in with full participation priviledges. Blab is also totally free as they grow their user base and there are no plans for a “premium” version on the horizon. In some ways, I think Blab may be the example of the “Instagram business model.” (Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1Billion.) I imagine that Blab is going to be acquired by a much larger company at some point, but when I asked Brittnay about this possibility, her response was a quite grounded. She said, “What makes you think we want to sell?” I left it at that.

blab-screen-labels-v2
Minor Limitations, Major Advantages

The only significant limitations of Blab’s video implementation that I’ve found so far are that it does not work in the Mac Safari browser (because of the video format that Safari uses) andthere’s a mobile app for iOS, but not yet for Android. The best web browser for Blab is Chrome and the desktop version is more full-featured (as shown above).

Some of the features that I like most are the fact that it’s a conversation environment with four interactive video windows. It’s easy for people to come and go. The host has the ability to accept or reject “visitors” at his or her discretion, and most hosts are quite welcoming. We had people coming and going all through our program.

Powerful Twitter Integration

Blab derives its external social media power through its integration with Twitter. And that’s a big part of what makes Blab powerful as an audience or relationship-building tool. Blab engages users via Twitter with the build-in “Tell a Bird” feature that’s to the left of the video windows (on the desktop version). It’s not only a good way to share what you’re doing, but it actually demonstrates a kind of freedom to interact that is not possible on Facebook because on Twitter “friend requests” are not required in order to interact.

Chat, Recordings & More

Blab stays highly interactive as well with a very lively chat stream that runs along the right side of the four video windows.

After you host a Blab session, you get both an mp4 video file and an mp3 audio file of the recording. These files are available for you to download and can be posted anywhere (for example, on YouTube, SoundCloud, or wherever). The video recording doesn’t have the screen names nor the chat stream. You can see the difference between this version and the embed code version that’s also provide via embeds that I’ve included below.

Compared to Google Hangouts, in the production sense, Blab is less robust. For example, at this time (although Brittnay told us that this is coming at some future time), Blab lacks screen sharing. Likewise, the spiffy lower-third ID’s that are part of Hangouts are not on Blab, but you do automatically get labeled during the live sessions with your name and Blab ID (for example, mine is @joncombridges).

As a work around for the absence of lower-thirds, people have gotten into using apps like ManyCam and CamTwist Studio (Mac only) in order to put graphics into their video frame. In fact, Joel was doing was doing just that all during our program.

I also think it’s worth noting that, in some ways, Blab’s ID feature is substantially better than the lower-third Hangouts feature because it’s interactive. For example, if you like what someone is saying, you can simply click on that ID to follow them on Blab. There is also a link to their Twitter profile so you can follow or list them there as well. The Blab ID also let’s you address them directly in the live chat stream. You also can click on the lower right of any video image to give the speaker “props.” So, what Blab may lack in snazzy production features, it more than makes up for with ease of use and authentically interactive tools that enable real people to have real conversations, in real time.

What About Lead Capture?

One of the questions that I asked Joel and the others during my first Blab Show was about lead capture, or lack of those kinds of features in Blab. For example, I use Google Hangouts within the WebinarJam “envelope” in order to do lead capture when I do webinars because I want to be able follow up with the people who attend my programs via email. What I’m learning is that Blab is something completely different.

What Blab delivers, possibly “in spades,” is a completely new way to get exposure. And what’s really important is that that increased exposure is delivered via video so people can really get a sense of you and your expertise or value.

I’m finding that I’m making new friends with my fundamental practice of “Leading with Value” and that’s the most dynamic and perhaps the most important part of Blab. Blab really is about relationship building and making authentic connections. People are doing this on Blab in a way I haven’t seen before on any social media network. I really think it’s worth checking out.

A Video-Powered Way to Increase Your Visibility

As someone said during the program, the Blab experience is very much analogous to being at a party and meeting people. So in that sense, for marketers, Blab is  like a new form of the classic free intro call.

One other important dimension of delivering expanded visibility is, as Carlos recommended and I’m demonstrating below, via YouTube. In the future, I’m also going to upload the audio to SoundCloud. In addition, there are people who are using Blab to record podcasts by taking the recording and distributing it via iTunes and so forth. Bottom line, Blab is a new way to get the word out.

That having been said, I watched a Blab the other day that featured Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner and he talked about specifically getting enrollments for some of their conferences via Blab. Thus, Blab can be used as an on-ramp both to build your visibility and also, in at least some cases, to make specific offers that then people move down your engagement funnel.

I’m recommending Blab because I’m finding it to be a great way to meet and connect with people. There’s no doubt that in only a little over a week, I’ve made new friends; and, equally important, I’m definitely having fun. Blab is so engaging that it’s literally becoming an addictive kind of social media experience for some people and in that way it’s a great social media environment to be swimming in.

I’m really delighted to have the opportunity to keep this kind of energy going, and I hope to see you (literally via Blab video) next [email protected] (PT).

Useful Resources:

For the Convenience of Comparison
Please Find Below Two Versions of This Same Program, My First “[email protected]” Blab Program. The first is the embed provided by Blab and the second via upload to YouTube—are provided below for comparison.

Blab Embed:

YouTube Embed: