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:

Blab: The New Social Video Streaming Platform ROCKS!

This is a quickie post to let you know about a surprisingly good new video streaming conversation platform called Blab. I just did my first Blab session and had 39 viewers from around the world. The recorded segment is embedded below. I was joined on-screen by video participants from Brazil, Argentina, and Philadelphia. 😉

I think this application is more user-friendly for multi-user video than anything I’ve seen (Spreecast, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.) It is also way better than Periscope or Meerkat because it’s two-way. Those video streaming tools are really only one-way.

Blab now has a mobile app as well as desktop. And, now that I think about it, it’s not only two-way, it’s up to four-way, four simultaneous video participants. And that’s nicely complemented by a fully functional chat stream where you can paste URL’s and animated GIF’s as well as very nice Twitter integration.

One of the people who jumped in, Richard Berger, had this to say about our conversation:

[testimonial author=”Richard Berger, English Teacher”]”In just those few minutes my awareness of new social media/video streaming/website development was exploded, and now you got me “back at the drawing board”, thinking of applications for my teaching work. Thanks again!”[/testimonial]

Here’s my first session which was a spontaneous “Ask Me Anything” about websites, social media marketing, video, etc. Pretty dang fun! Please click “Watch Now” button on the image below to watch this Blab session, and feel free to scroll ahead to see the multiple participants. And, please let me know what you think. And stay tuned for a special Blab next week with Twitter Power author, Joel Comm, at 4pm PT on Friday, August 28th. Thanks!

This Week’s “3 Geegy Amigos” Tech Talk Show via Google Hangouts

3geekyamigos-logo

We had fun today and I think there’s lots of useful information for you, as we live recorded this week’s episode of our new tech talk show, “3 Geeky Amigos” (live almost every week, Tuesdays at 3pm PT). We learned a lot including how to do lower-third graphic titles inside of Google Hangouts On Air and talked about everything from iPhone apps to Gmail’s upcoming interface update, Moz.com to free WordPress training, Internet marketing (of course) to social analytics software and even a little bit of Twitter’s Vine video app. Note: All of the links that are mentioned in this edition are right there for you in the YouTube video’s description. So click on the video title in the embedded video below if you want the links. Audio-only version also offered below, just in case that’s more convenient. You can even download that one.

Enjoy and we’d love your feedback!

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/96188513″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

New Experiment: Weekly Tech Talk Google Hangout with “3 Geeky Amigos”

3geekyamigos-logoOf course, we are all always learning; and another “always” is that I’m always telling myself (and others) that I need to do video on a much more regular basis.

I’ve also been attracted to the streamlined production efficiencies offered by Google’s Hangouts On-Air which not only provides a nifty and unique interface for group video chats, but a seamless integration with YouTube so that when you choose to record your Hangout, the “On-Air” part auto-magically posts the recorded video conversation to YouTube.

I’m also lucky to have some wonderful, knowledgable (OK, fellow “geeky”) friends who are excited to join my in this high tech video playpen (or I guess the tech term is “sandbox”). In this case, my co-hosts are Taylor Fogelquist of Active Ingredients and Peter Klein of Empower Your Brilliance.

The result is a new weekly tech talk show that we’ve dubbed, “3 Geeky Amigos.” You can join us live at 3pm PT every Tuesday afternoon (except June 18th). We’d love your feedback. Please tell us what you’d like us to explore. What would be most useful or interesting to you?

Here’s the first episode embedded below. It’s more of a “rehearsal” than a “premiere.” I’m confident we will keep getting better and better as we find the flow of this new media environment and get YOU involved. 🙂 And, we hope you will also join us this Tuesday at 3pm PT.

Podcast Channel Broadens with More Corporate Podcasters (IBM)

This podcast thing is getting interesting enuf 4 me to be planning something coming “real soon”… stay tuned; and meanwhile I guess there’s momentum to consider Apple’s “next generation radio” as an interesting channel for corporate marketing communications. The latest entrant: IBM. And nobody ever got fired for copying IBM, or was that for hiring Microsoft 😉 Read more about the corporate podcast offerings of IBM and others.

Apple’s Approach to Podcasting Appropriately Promoted by Pogue (NYTimes)

The New York Times’ excellent Mac-friendly technology columnist, David Pogue has further illuminated the podscape by agreeing with my comment below… awright he says a whole lot more and says it better… illuminating how the elegant integration of podcasts in Apple’s iTunes 4.9 has moved this new form of audio communication (Next Gen Radio) a whole lot closer to the mainstream. I was particularly tickled to read about how Microsoft folk are using the term “blogcasting” so that they don’t have to reinforce the iPod’s stranglehold on all things Pod. The title, In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream, may be a bit overstated; but, IMHO, his article is a mighty fine read. Well done as usual, Mr. Pogue.

NBC & A Podcasting Reality Check

I don’t think I’ve posted yet how impressed I am with Apple’s easy-to-use integration of the ability to subscribe to podcasts right within iTunes 4.9, but just the same I’ve been skeptical about podcasting’s ability to become (as Apple says) “The next generation of radio.” My thinking being somewhat along the lines of the comments by Mark Cuban referenced in an earlier post (below).

However, I have to admit that I was surprised to happen to catch the end of tonight’s rerun of today’s Meet the Press and find Tim Russert (with some embarrassment) promoting that program’s new podcast. (Of course, this is also a reflection of increased web competition between broadcast networks… see post below re CBS.)

Bottom line, this media moment reminded me of the old days (5 or so years ago) when I’d see a commercial web site’s URL on TV and took it as confirmation that the Web really was becoming an important medium. Maybe podcasting will become important too? Maybe it really is the happy media marriage of Tivo’s “any time you want it” with the iPod’s (and any other portable digital media player’s) “any place you want it.”

Whadda you think?

Podcasting: A more sober view (and more)

Who woulda thunk that wildman NBA Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would be the one to provide the most sober overview of the podcasting trend I’ve seen, but he did. Also, of interest to blog fans, Cuban announced the reincarnation of his blog-oriented search engine (formerly IceRocket, now BlogScour), not to mention a fun bit of Dot-Bomb memorabilia about the day 7 years ago when Broadcast.com went public. As always, Cuban continues to be, IMHO, a pioneer of interest on the digital frontier. Just lay off those reality shows, Mark.

Podcasting update from Steve Jobs & Washington Post

Here’s are some current stats and perspective from Steve Jobs re podcasting as reported by the Washington Post.

Jobs Reveals iTunes Tuning into Podcasts

I admit to being a Steve Jobs fan, so you won’t be surprised that I think he’s making (yet another) smart move by incorporating podcasts into this summer’s update to the iTunes software. Why not make his killer app more sticky? Makes sense to me. Or to quote Apple (and Pixar)’s master of promotion, in his usually under-stated manner, “Already millions of people are subscribing to these podcasts, I think this is going to send it into orbit.”

More info from SFGate.com including coverage of comments by Bill Gates & more