VIDEO AID IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS – How Software Providers Are Helping Us Connect & Communicate

Coronavirus has truly changed everything. ​
​We are all in this together.

As online video software provider, Loom said, “Inaction Felt Wrong.” Or, as Chris Cuomo said recently on CNN, “sitting on the sidelines is not an option.”

​In this episode of Video Mojo, I shine a spotlight on three online software companies who are examples of companies who are doing what they can (based on their company’s culture and values), especially in support of educators who are teaching online, using video, for the first time.

About Video Mojo

​Video Mojo is a weekly video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration on the “bleeding edge” of digital video & social media.

Resource Links from this episode:

If you want to check out ConvertKit as an email marketing platform:
https://app.convertkit.com/referrals/l/cb9d89ab-194a-4937-b1c4-7027fd850bf2
(affiliate link) Please let me know if you have questions.

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

VIDEO AID IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS – How Software Providers Are Helping Us Connect & Communicate

Hi there and welcome to Video Mojo!

My name is Jon Leland and this is a video blog and podcast where we combine timeless marketing principles with the bleeding edge of video communications, social media, and digital marketing.
So we’re living in strange and interesting times. But it is an area where video can make a difference and help to connect us all, as I’ve been talking about week after week; human connections through video. This is an episode about how video software providers and an email software provider are really providing support for people to be able to take advantage of the fact that we’re staying at home and working at home. Many people are really cutting down on all kinds of travel and person-to-person interactions, so we want to make more of these human interactions. And when we make human interactions, it really becomes a matter of empathy, caring and wanting to make a difference. That’s why there’s this beautiful theme here between video connection and people making a difference in making offers.

Today, I want to shine the spotlight on three different software providers that are doing offers to help support people in this time of need.

Loom

The first one is Loom. I have actually become a fan of theirs even more since the video that I did in February where I talked about 4 video tools to help improve video fluency and connection. The folks at Loom have dramatically illustrated how this changed, because of the coronavirus and people working from home, is impacting the amount of video that we’re all using. They posted these charts both from China and from Italy showing how increased use there is where people are being most negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

The first thing that I want to say about Loom is I really love their culture and the fact that they felt in the presentation video on the page where they announced their response to the coronavirus they said “inaction felt wrong.” I really salute that spirit, and I feel the same way. I really think we need to be there more than ever for each other even though we can’t be there in person.

The other thing I want to say about Loom is that when I did a video in February about four tools I talked about Loom and I found that I have become even more of a fan of their platform since then. One key advantage is that when I record Loom videos they’re instantly available on the web. Some of the other platforms require you to upload the video within the application. For example, on Snagit, I have to wait for it to upload. It’s great the way it gets shared quickly, but with Loom it’s instantaneous.

In terms of the coronavirus, they’ve extended the terms of the already free version of Loom. It used to be that there was a limit of 25 videos when you had the free platform, it’s now unlimited through July 1st. And for everyone they’ve made the platform half cost. It was $10 a month for their pro platform, it’s now $5 a month. I recommend checking out Loom in any case because the free platform is quite powerful. And the most important part of their offer is for educators. Anyone in an educational institution a teacher, an administrator, or whatever they can get the Loom platform at the pro level for free forever. Not just the July 1st temporary offer.

Bomb Bomb

The second platform that I want to talk about in terms of a response to doing more video with the coronavirus is Bomb Bomb. They talked about rehumanizing your communications. I think if you’re a teacher and now need to teach online, part of that process is going to be the interactions that you might have done in office. Things that you will do now by email. Bomb Bomb is a very sophisticated application for doing video in email, particularly with Gmail. Normally it’s relatively expensive, starting around $30 a month per user. But for educators, it’s now free and they did not put a time limit on it. So if you think that you would benefit as a teacher delivering your communications as close to face-to-face that you can get. Really making eye contact with your students and doing that by email, this offer from Bomb Bomb is worth checking out.

Now I will put one caveat. I experimented with Bomb Bomb and in addition to the cost, there is a learning curve. It is an application. You could manage an entire class’s email list within the Bomb Bomb application and follow up with each student and have all of that readily available. So that’s something that I think educators might want to check out.

Convertkit

The third thing that I wanted to talk about is Convertkit. Convertkit is an email platform like MailChimp. Though, there are a lot of things that I like about it better. One of the things is their culture and that they specifically designed their platform and market to creators. What Nathan Barry, the CEO, has done is to create a “Creator Fund” and has funded it with $50,000. They’ve already gotten close to $150,000 as of a couple days ago and I’m sure it’s going to go beyond that. They are getting tons of applications but as we all know a lot of people are taking some very serious financial hits because of what’s going on with the coronavirus. So they’re creating a fund for creators who need help with their rent, health expenses, groceries, and those kinds of things.

People do really care. I really applaud these software companies that are doing something about the situation that we’re in. More and more I think we’re going to be learning to be video savvy and connecting via these kinds of video communications.

I look forward to your feedback. Thanks for any input that you can provide, for sharing, for subscribing, and all that good kind of support. I look forward
to seeing you next week!

Improve Your Video Connections with These 4 Recommended Video Software Tools

Are you looking to up your video communication skills?

Whether you are using video for marketing, to share software tips with those you work with, or to share valuable information via social media, you have choices to make in order to find “the right (video) tool for the job.”

​I’ve got recommendations! The episode of Video Mojo (video below) will help you by offering a quick overview of four video software tools that I have used to create casual, but informative videos, especially for clients and colleagues.

Click above to watch this week’s Video Mojo video blog & podcast episode.

The first three apps are particularly useful if you need or want to share your screen, including if that screen is sharing a presentation. The fourth video software tool is particularly useful when you want to make a more powerful video connection via email. Links to all four video apps are below (FYI, none are affiliate links.)

​About Video Mojo

Video Mojo is a weekly video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration on the “bleeding edge” of digital video & marketing.

Resource Link from this episode:

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

* Video Launch Pad: https://go.combridges.com/video-launch-pad​
* YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/jonleland​
* Video Blog Home: https://www.combridges.com/blog​/
* Podcast Home: https://anchor.fm/video-mojo​/
* On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/video-mojo-jon-leland-tips-strategies-for-better-world/id1489867374?uo=4​
* On Spotify Podcasts: https://open.spotify.com/show/1ORM2qja8iMWM9ykwvhaXk​
* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joncombridges/
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/joncombridges​/
* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/combridges.fb​/
* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonleland/

Thanks!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Improve Your Video Connections with These 4 Recommended Video Software Tools

Hi and welcome! 

My name is Jon Leland and I’m a digital marketing strategist and the host of Video Mojo, a weekly video blog, and podcast that connects timeless marketing principles with the bleeding edge of video communications, technology, and marketing. 

So today we are going to talk about four applications that can really help you get more fluent in the language of video and increase the power of the connections that you make via video. As you may have heard from other episodes of this video blog and podcast I’m a big advocate of the practice of video. I am passionate about learning by doing and experimenting, but most of all getting yourself out there so you develop the video muscle. These are four applications that can help you do just that in order to make better connections with the people that you are working with or that you want to influence. 

I will include all of the links for the applications that I’m talking about and some other resources throughout the description.

Loom

The first application is called Loom. Loom is very popular because of its simplicity and also because of its free level robust application. It operates both as a Chrome plug-in and as a desktop application. I’ve only used it as the Chrome plug-in because I find it really convenient. When you use Loom the limitation is that you do not have many customization options. Your talking head video will be a small circle in the lower-left corner. You then will be able to share your screen and show people what it is that you want to communicate about. We use it frequently and I’ve seen it used to explain things that are going on within software or websites. It’s very powerful and relatively easy to use. 

Snagit

A step up from that is Snagit, which is a kind of a Swiss Army knife of video tools. It has both the ability to do still frame captures as well as various forms of video interaction. It introduces the sophistication of being able to switch back and forth between a screen share and the full live-action video talking head. I got turned on to Snagit by Steve Dotto of Dottotech. He is a resource that I recommend and I’ll also include a link to his video review of Snagit for a lot more detail. Snagit is a paid application. It is a one-time fee of about $50 unless you get some kind of discount. It will give you a more sophisticated ability to produce videos where you’re switching back and forth while recording but NOT in post-production. 

Wistia’s Soapbox

I really like the third tool, Wistia’s Soapbox. Wistia is a video hosting application that I do recommend to get away from the YouTube noise that happens when you host videos on YouTube. For example, on my landing pages for the video launchpad, I have embedded videos that will not recommend other YouTube videos by using the Wistia platform. Soapbox is an application that Wistia has developed and is also accessible by a Chrome plug-in. It has a really clever post-production editing interface. You record once and then in this editing interface you have the ability to switch between the live talking head and the screen share as well as a  third view which is one-third talking head in two-thirds screen share. So if you’re doing “mini-tutorials” soapbox is a pretty cool application that will enable you to produce a kind of presentation that looks like you’ve used much more fancy editing software that has a nice combination of the live talking head human presence and the screen sharing. 

BombBomb

Then if you want to move up to the next level BombBomb is a really cool application, particularly if you’re doing a lot of email outreach and you want to move to a more sophisticated level. For example, if you are a real estate marketer that wants to stand out above the crowd in how they communicate with their prospective customers, BombBomb integrates with email like nothing else that I’ve seen. The way that they do that is when you record a BombBomb video for somebody the first two seconds is an animated GIF that can be embedded into an email. In fact, they have a whole email integration for outbound marketing. That means the learning curve is higher and the cost is definitely higher as it’s a professional application. But it will give you the ability to communicate via email and really make personal messages that can attract and engage in a very powerful way. 

So there’s a quick overview of four tools that you can use to increase your video muscle. You know, it’s a practice. It takes determination and perseverance to stay with it. Each one has a learning curve starting with something like Loom (it’s simpler), and walking up the ladder to something like BombBomb (it’s much more complex). Whatever you do I really encourage you to get out there, make yourself more visible, and do the kind of engagement that these kinds of video tools enable. 

Thanks again for your kind attention. I really do appreciate you being here and I’ll see you next week!

Hey Podcasting! Meet My Video Blog – A Content Marketing Distribution Innovation

What?!? You turned your video blog into a podcast? Yes, I did! 😊

If you want to know how and why I did this, please watch this video:

This Weeks Power Briefing, Hey Podcasting! Meet My Video Blog.

What I did is: To get started, I stripped the audio off of a few of my video blog episodes, successfully put the Anchor.fm online app to work, and my video blog—now named “Video Mojo”—is now available via all of the major podcast distribution platforms. Here are a few links, in case you’d like to listen:

Join Us for a Free “Beyond Storytelling” Video Session

I’ve added a new service: Free Video Sessions. This is new way for us to connect as a virtual community, and for me and my friends to offer you complimentary support. You might think of these as a kind of “enhanced” Ask Us Anything experience. Basically, there will be a short interview followed by open Q&A so we can interact and be as helpful as possible. There’s no telling what might happen.

The first Free Video Session will be next Tuesday, December 17th at 11am PT / 2pm ET via Zoom Video. My guest will be my soul-full friend, the inspiring and empowering, Michael Kass, who takes storytelling to a more meaningful level. We are calling this session, “Beyond Storytelling” and it’s a chance to truly enliven your online communcations… well, all of your communications!

Yes, I will record this session and distribute via the podcast, video blog channels, and these emails; but if you have a question, problem or challenge that you think Michael or I might help with, think of this as an opportunity to get free coaching in a virtual group setting. Register Now for Free Here

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Hey Podcasting! Meet My Video Blog.

Hi there, and welcome. Welcome to Video Mojo which is my short-form podcast and video blog about making more meaningful online connections for a better world. 

Today’s subject is “Hello Podcasting! Meet My Video Blog.”

Connecting Vlogging & Podcasting

As some of you know if you watched earlier episodes, one of my axioms is “It’s Not HOW to Distribute the Content that you Create, It’s HOW ELSE to Distribute the Content that you Create.” And I’m reporting success in walking my talk in that regard, because the video blog that I’ve been doing on YouTube, I’ve also been putting on Instagram TV, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth. It is now also a podcast; and it’s available on Apple Podcasts (the iPhone app), available on Spotify, and on all the major podcasting applications.

I had this idea: I know that there are a lot of people distributing podcasts on YouTube, and I decided to follow the example of some people I admire. Derek Sivers is a great author and entrepreneur who founded CD Baby. He does a short-form podcast that’s just a couple minutes. Likewise, Naval Ravikant, who’s a VC financial guy, also does a short-form podcast and puts it on YouTube. They both do the very short form kind of podcast like this one. 

One difference is that they don’t do video. I originate with a video, do the video distribution, and have made the bridge the other way from YouTube and video into podcasting. I think that’s kind of innovative. I’d love to know your point of view about it. But the point is that it makes this content more accessible. As long as I’m producing content, it makes sense to have it out there. 

A Great App for Podcast Distribution

I do have an application tip that I want to share with you. I’ve made the podcast happen through a free application called anchor.fm. They did a great job! All you need is a title, a description, and some cover art. They’ll let you do some very simple cover art (within their app), but we created a custom graphic for Video Mojo. They literally took care of the rest at no charge. So I really recommend this app. It is a big time-saver. 

Free Video Sessions

I also want to tell you about an exception because occasionally I will do long-form episodes of this podcast and video blog. Those (longer episodes) will come out of some free public open group sessions. I’m calling them “Free Video Sessions.” The first free live video session is going to be with my good friend Michael Kass, who is an amazing storytelling expert. In fact, he takes storytelling to a deeper level of authenticity that I find inspiring and valuable. We’re calling the session “Beyond Storytelling” because we’re really going to talk about how to approach storytelling in a way that is not about transactions or selling stuff, just like I’m not selling anything here. It’s a free conversation and we’re not going to be selling anything in that free session either. 

It’s going to be Tuesday, December 17th at 11:00 a.m. Pacific and 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The link is here on the screen for you. And please join us by registering. You’ll get the recording if you register or it’ll be available via the podcast a little bit later. 

So, thanks so much for your kind attention. I love sharing this information with you. Questions are welcome. Comments and feedback at any time. Thanks again we’ll see you next week!

My 6 Favorite Digital Marketing Apps. Webinar Video + Free PDF

Researching, testing and figuring out “what’s the best app for that?” is part of my job.

I also LOVE sharing information and being helpful. Recently I hosted a video webinar where I shared the six digital marketing apps that I use daily for myself and for my clients. I’m writing this blog post to share this webinar video recording with you.

Also, please scroll down, because there are links below to the apps themselves as well as to other resources that I mention during the webinar. Enjoy!

FYI, the initial presentation with demos and info about all six apps is about 30 minutes in length. It is followed by about 15 minutes of edited Q&A.

Get Yours: Free PDF, 6 Recommended Digital Marketing Apps

Leland combridges marketing app infographic small

This PDF has Jon Leland's recommendations for his six favorite digital marketing apps in one easy-to-read, one-page reference doc. Get yours now.

To watch the video webinar where Jon Leland explains these recommendations, click here.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

For your convenience, here are the direct links to the applications that I talked about during this webinar:

Squarespace for Websites:
Blog Post: http://www.combridges.com/small-business-website-design…/
My 15-minute (recorded) webinar on Squarespace https://youtu.be/eOjMgce2E2A

ConvertKit for Email:
Affiliate link: http://mbsy.co/convertkit/76357
Blog Post: http://www.combridges.com/email-marketing-conversations…/

Canva for Social Media Graphics:
https://www.canva.com

Soapbox for Low Budget Video Production:
http://www.wistia.com/soapbox

Zoom for Video Webinars:
http://www.zoom.us

Thinkific Online Classes:
https://thinkific.com
https://combridges.thinkific.com/

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you via any medium you choose including this contact form or via any of the social media networking links at the top of this page.

Thanks for reading and/or watching! 🙂

Think Websites Are An Expensive Pain? Now There’s Small Business Relief via Squarespace

“Simpler is Better.” Website Design Can Be More Fun & Efficient When You Go Beyond the Complexity of WordPress and other platforms.

While my team and I still design and develop larger WordPress websites, I have found the Squarespace platform to be a faster, more fun and more client-empowering way to help small businesses create elegant, totally mobile-friendly websites that have all of the functionalities that a small business needs.


As some of you may know, I did a streaming video webinar earlier this year (see YouTube clip above) that explains in the first 15-minutes why I’m recommending Squarespace over WordPress for websites for smaller organizations.

I’m writing today because my streamlined, three-hour 1-to-1 Get-It-Done Squarespace Website sessions are becoming more popular; and, for me, more fun.

Learning from Real Life Website Design Experiences

Recently in one of these “1-to-1 Get-It-Done” Squarespace Website sessions where I collaborated with a local chiropractor and friend, Robert Adamich, we actually produced his entire website (short of a couple of blog posts) in just one of these three-hour sessions.

To be clear, this is not always the case. That’s why I book these, not as projects, but rather as sessions, i.e. a three-hour commitment to get as much done as possible, including developing the site’s content structure, integrating some content, teaching how to use Squarespace, and developing the site’s unique look and feel using one of Squarespace’s modern design templates.

Here’s what Robert had to say about this process:

“My work with Jon Leland of ComBridges produced amazing website results in far less time than I could have imagined! Prior to our “1-to-1 Get-It-Done Squarespace Website Session,” Jon provided me with relevant tools and questions so that I was prepared and ready to go. Then, in only three-hours, we crafted a 7-page website that I absolutely love. Jon was fun to work with and creative sparks were flying. Then, at the end of the session, when we launched my new site, it was literally a dream come true. The icing on the cake was that I left with enough training and familiarity with Squarespace that I can now manage and edit my own website. THANK YOU, Jon!”

— Robert Adamich, AdamichChiropractic.com

Personally, I absolutely LOVE the opportunity to contribute what I think is extremely high value as a writer, marketing consultant, information architect, and Squarespace trainer, all in one action-packed session.

The results are tangible and the clients have all been very happy.

My calling is to be of service, and there’s something very satisfying about this Squarespace powered format. I hope that it’s obvious that I am much more than just a website designer. What I love about this process is that I get to bring all of my talents into these sessions and have clients walk away with all or most of a new website, as well as with an empowering orientation to the power and ease-of-use of Squarespace.

Here’s another example, another real life Squarespace website client experience:

“As a do-it-yourselfer, I questioned why I hired Jon. Was it just so I would get started on my project of updating my website? That alone would have been worth it, but Jon’s services went way beyond my expectations. In the space of three hours, he not only provided me with a tutorial on using Squarespace; but he also helped organize, with my input, the framework for the revised site, as well as providing a good start on several important pages. It was amazing! I wasn’t overwhelmed with the behind-the-scenes tech or design stuff, and I felt empowered to continue on my own when we finished. Thanks, Jon!”

— Gia Combs-Ramirez

I welcome your questions and I’m happy to do a 15-minute “discovery session” with anyone, anytime, so that you can get a better sense if this approach (or one of the other website design approaches we offer) is right for you. Please contact me in order to arrange your free discovery session.

Or, If You Want a Complete Website…

In other cases, I do the entire website as a Squarespace project for a project fee. For example, this was the case with a website that I did recently for a South Lake Tahoe law firm. For this client, I also delivered Internet marketing services including SEO and Google AdWords in order to attract new leads and prospective clients. In fact, as they say below, their firm has already booked new clients as a result of our work together:

“Jon Leland and ComBridges went above and beyond in building my firm’s website. Jon built us a very professional, attractive website while patiently taking the time to explain how to manage the website in a way that was easy to understand. It was obvious that Jon has a lot of pride in his work and was committed to boosting my firm’s business through our online presence. His hard work and our investment in our website has already produced positive, tangible results by bringing us many new clients.  I’d recommend Jon and ComBridges to anyone.”

— Scott Souers, Attorney, William B. Cherry & Associates

How Do You Know Which Approach to a New Website Is Best for You?

We have a three-column chart that provides a better understanding of the difference between these two approaches to building Squarespace websites.

Or, please check out my portfolio of Squarespace websites.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Squarespace Website Quick-Start Webinar: Free. Next Thursday.

If you’ve been challenged getting a website done or you think they’re too expensive, I have some good news for you.

Next Thursday, December 17th at 10am PT / 1pm ET, I will present short 15-minute webinar on why I’m preferring Squarespace websites for small businesses. During this presentation, I will concisely share my knowledge and insights about why most of my clients are now benefiting from the streamlined production, stress-free hosting, elegant templates, built-in mobile-friendliness and other benefits of the Squarespace online website software platform. Click here to register or learn more.

Squarespace Website WebinarMy Mission is To Help You Get a Grip on the High Performance, Low Cost Squarespace Website Software That I’ve Come to Know & Love

If you’re interested in learning more about how Squarespace and/or if you think this information might help you to have a more elegant website and an expanded web presence more quickly than you may have thought possible, I would love to help you by sharing what I’ve learned in the hope that you will benefit. I promise to quickly and clearly explain why this is the website development strategy (Squarespace) that I’m recommending these days.

Squarespace has really changed things at ComBridges recently because now, thanks to the ease of use of this platform, I’m able to do websites a lot less expensively; and, it’s more empowering for the clients to be able to make their own website changes and updates. It also solves the today’s requirement that everything on the web and in email be mobile-friendly. Squarespace does that “out of the box” will ALL of its modern templates. My clients also like that they don’t have to worry about hosting and the associated technical headaches… and on and on.

Bottom line, our clients are happy, and you might be interested in learning more about why this is working so well. Click here now to learn more.

This Is What I Do

As many of you know, I am an online marketing mentor with a real passion for connecting the dots for small businesses. I call it spanning the Grand Canyon gap between people and technology. One of the biggest things that’s happened to me in my business in the last or year or so is doing more websites using Squarespace rather than WordPress.

All the information about this online event is here on this page, including a personal video invitation and bullets that explain more about what I’ll be talking about.

I hope to see you there.

When you click this link you will see more detailed information and be able to register. The live session includes a chat-powered Q&A. The recording is included when you register.

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:

Major Website Design Learning: Squarespace Makes It Fun Again

Our new Squarespace website design options—both a done-with-you process and lower priced projects—have taught me important lessons while also helping me to help clients better and to enjoy my work more.

[testimonial author=”Will Lopes, owner, William Patrick Design Builders”]”The future of website design is here! Squarespace in the able hands of Jon Leland was a revelation. He guided me through a re-design more quickly, elegantly and affordably than I imagined possible. Now, I have a modern, good-looking, mobile-friendly website; AND it’s on a platform that empowers me to have FUN evolving it by myself. I couldn’t recommend Jon’s unique approach more highly.”[/testimonial]

william-patrick-buildersI think the testimonial above says a ton!

As I’ve continued to experiment with Squarespace as a more cost effective and easier to use platform (vs. WordPress) for small business websites, I’ve not only learned lessons about the need for clarity in differentiating these fresh approaches; but, even more importantly, I’ve uncovered new ways of serving clients that are both better for them and more fun for me.

Not “One Size Fits All”

I recently did a “1-to-1 Get-It-Done” Squarespace website session with Christine Fischer via Skype. She lives in Spain and conducts Truffles Tours there.

While Christine appreciated her experience as “fun” with results that she said are “functional and elegant,” she also gave me some valuable, “constructive feedback.” sitka-servicesShe told me that she wasn’t completely clear when we started that the 1-to-1 Get-It-Done package was just a session and not a complete website project.

I was really glad that I took the time to listen to her feedback and I’ve already incorporated her suggestions by positioning the “1-to-1” offer more distinctly, as she suggested. I explained on the “1-to-1” offer page that this session is a way to build a “foundation” for your website and be empowered to move forward on your own. That much I can promise. A complete website in three hours, I can not promise. 😉

I took that input, updated the offer page and then went a extra step by creating a new 3-column chart that’s now featured on my website’s “Website Design Services” page.

A New Chart to Visualize the Differences

web-design-development-options-chartNow, hopefully, thanks to this chart, people can quickly and easily understand the differences between the various ways that we are now serving up new client websites.

Truthfully, for me, doing this chart was also useful because I’ve been experimenting by developing this offers and they needed to be more clearly articulated.

Now, as these new approaches to website design and development have become successful in terms of completing both sessions and projects (please see our new Squarespace website design portfolio page for examples), and, as I’m seeing 1-to-1 Get-It-Done clients complete their own websites, my whole experience with Squarespace has become more and more satisfying.

In fact, it’s become downright enjoyable!

And that’s the bottom line: I love sharing my expertise and being hands on. Doing these projects and sessions have given me a new way to be helpful and one that is empowering for clients. Yay!

Yes, Squarespace has made web design fun again.

Webinar Video: Internet Marketing Success in 4 Easy “Booster Rockets”

Webinar via YouTube: Internet marketing... success

Last week, we recorded a live webinar as part of the re-launch of New Marketing University (NewMarU.com). I entitled it, “The 4 Booster Rockets of Internet Marketing Success” and we covered four key areas that are high leverage for any small business that wants to expand the effectiveness of its online marketing, including why these strategies are important and an overview of how we approach them.

The good news, if you are just passing by, is that I felt that this webinar was such a valuable introduction to how ComBridges approaches these kinds of innovations in Internet marketing as well as a taste of the kinds of useful information that will be available more and more via NewMarU.com, I decided to post this recording free and open to all on YouTube with no email registration required. In fact, this 45-minute video webinar is embedded below on this page so you can just click and enjoy it right now. 😉

In case you want to know what’s covered without watching anything, we discuss the following four strategic Internet marketing tactics:

  • Lead capture and lead nurturing along with the need to design a sales funnel process
  • Truly interactive Facebook Pages that go “beyond the Like”
  • Authentic engagement and what makes video content marketing more effective
  • Cost effective small business mobile apps to reach the rapidly increasing number of website visitors using smartphones and other mobile devices

All this and more in only about 40 minutes plus Q&A. Please check it out and comment, here or on YouTube. And if you want more, click on the “YouTube” logo to subscribe to our YouTube channel or register at NewMarU.com. Thanks! We look forward to hearing from YOU.

Mobile Apps and Mobile-Friendly Websites for Business: 
The Next Big Thing in Internet Marketing?

Shortly after Internet accessibility via mobile phones started to take off, marketers started to encourage businesses to build mobile versions of their websites. But there is always a gap between innovations and those who follow up in order to take advantage of the latest technologies.

mobile-friendly website with responsive WordPress theme

ComBridges’ new mobile-friendly website design uses a responsive WordPress theme

But, now that there is a meaningful volume of web visitors checking out every website (yes, even yours!) via mobile devices, spanning this gap is becoming more of a requirement. And yet, there are still a very significant number of businesses who don’t have mobile-friendly websites. The really bad news, particularly for those who are falling behind, is that the gap is widening between those who are meeting the demand for mobile-friendly web communications and those who are not. The good news is that there are a new generation of business communication tools arising in the form of apps and new kinds of websites that make meeting this need increasingly accessible. Illuminating these trends with specific examples is the purpose of this blog post.

The Mobile Web is Exploding

These changes are unquestionably dramatic. While the Web was born on desktop computers, it is obviously no longer simply a desktop medium. By May 2012, fully one tenth of the world’s web traffic was arriving on your digital doorstep via mobile phones and tablets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the “developing” world that is truly leading the charge. In those countries where cell phones have long outnumbered landlines, more than one-half of web use is now coming via mobile devices. This demand for mobile delivery is now forcing the issue and providing further fuel for the shift in how websites are designed. In this environment, for a company to ignore the need for the mobile-friendly delivery of its Web content not only limits that company’s engagement opportunities because they are essentially “dissing” a significant segment of their audience. In the US alone, mobile is now estimated to be about 15% of web traffic. Bottom line, this form of resistance to change (or upgrades) will also exclude that company from a significant component of how the next billion people will get online.

Chinese woman with iPad

Photo by Robert May, April, 2013

Not Your Father’s Website Design

Web development for the mobile age itself is advancing quickly. One of the latest innovations is called responsive website designs. Because responsive designs automatically adjust their layout to suit the device being used, they offer a relatively simple solution that can eliminate the complexity of having to create a separate mobile-friendly version of your website. But this means that those—like my company recently—must invest in a redesign in order to keep pace with the mobile revolution. But that’s not all. The pace of change does not slow down. It accelerates.

Span the Gap with an App

Now, at least for marketers who are committed to the leading edge of engagement with social media savvy users who love their mobile devices, a responsive design may not be enough. Mobile apps are yet another important innovation because they combine the emergence of ever-expanding Web access via mobile devices with the ability to communicate directly, in a native form (i.e. within the mobile medium) via customized business-specific functionalities from Facebook feeds, to special offers, to location-based components.

A recent article by SmartMediaTips on mobile statistics points out that over 50% of an individual’s time spent on a smartphone is spent using apps. In 2011, smartphone users downloaded 17.7 billion apps, and this number is expected to increase to 108 billion by 2015. As a result, more than 300,000 apps were developed in the last 3 years. In a sense, apps are the new websites (just like “60 is the new 40.”)

The good news is that some newly developed Web-based SaaS (software as service) resources are make building basic apps far more accessible and affordable than previously imagined. The result is a new trend in mobile marketing: the development of business apps that can be used by companies of virtually any size. Of course, many large, enterprise-level businesses have already jumped on the app bandwagon, including banks, Starbucks, Google, and even Walmart’s new checkout app. Now, there are mobile apps for the rest of us.

Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

A business mobile app means that your website can be programmed to offer mobile users an interface for your website and social media content that is all the more friendly, not only with a vertical layout that fits a smartphone screen, but with an interface that features icons (rather than web-style text links) that are also a natural for the touch of a screen. Thus, an app offers more than a responsive website design. An app gives your business a mobile presence that can put local or social media interactivity in a more prominent position. In particular, an app allows your loyal customers and followers to retrieve content, like audio podcasts or video commentaries for example, that are more conveniently accessed while on the move. Likewise, Facebook posts and tweets, which are commonly accessed via mobile, can become part of your business app’s featured content.

One logical strategy is use the app to make your social media marketing and content marketing outreach more accessible. For example, when individuals are standing in line at the bank or at the grocery store, with an app at their fingertips, they will much more easily be able browse through your Facebook posts. In fact, they are certainly more likely to visit your Facebook Page while on your app rather than from Facebook’s own app where they are far more than likely to be distracted by their family’s photos, etc.

Likewise, if you host a contest, offer a coupon or some other form of promotion, those who get involved with your app can much more quickly check contest updates from an app and receive automated notifications (with permission of course). The app makes waiting for your responsive website to load, asking the user to find the contest page, then wait for that page to load, etc. seem prosaic. An app simply makes any interaction with your web content immediately available with a simple touch of an icon, rather than forcing a web page and more complex navigation through the smaller screen.

Learning from Experience

Small Business mobile app example

ComBridges’ Facebook Feed in our test mobile app

By way of example, as a boutique web design and marketing agency, our company, ComBridges used to have a mobile-friendly version of our website that was visible via smartphones. This was developed using a WordPress plug-in called WPTouch Pro. Recently, we have redesigned and relaunched our own site with a responsive WordPress theme.

What opens up the opportunity for a small business like ours (and so many others) to have its own app is online software services like Conduit.com’s Mobile. While these apps do require a small, additional monthly hosting fee, they are easy for developers like us to implement. So much so that some do-it-yourselfer small businesses could even build apps on their own. It’s a work in progress, but if you have a smartphone, you can preview our first generation mobile app via any mobile device at combridges.conduitapps.com.

You will notice that what you see on our app looks very different than what you see on our website. It’s designed for mobile interaction. In fact, thanks to Conduit, much of the content is automatically derived from our Facebook Page, Twitter feed and more. As you can see, many of our social media pages are featured along with easy options for contacting us, including click to call functionality.

Greeting the Mobile Future

According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of individuals who own smart phones keep their phone within reach 24/7. And 5.1 billion of the 7 billion people on earth own a mobile phone. With these numbers in mind, why wouldn’t every business want to make it easier for their customers, blog readers, Twitter or Facebook followers to engage with them via a mobile app?

Another benefit is that if you develop your business app now, before the gap widens further, you may well be seen as an innovator. At the very least, you will prove yourself smart enough to get an early jump on the next wave of mobile marketing strategies, rather than letting the gap widen between you and your competitors, as well as between you and your customers.


Jon Leland is author of “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts that Every Business MUST Know” and is the president of the boutique web design, video and Internet marketing agency, ComBridges.com. He was assisted in this article by Tara Hornor who also writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company.