How to Create Authentic Connections: Video Production Insights for Website Videos

Anyone doing online marketing faces the challenge of how to engage and inform visitors, while also communicating clearly enough that people get the intended message. Without the human face of a home page welcome video, most websites miss a crucial opportunity to engage with authenticity.

At the end of the day, at least in my opinion, there’s no point in digital marketing, if you don’t make an authentic connection with website visitors. Given the fact that website visitors, in general, have the “attention span of a gnat,” the power of video has become paramount. (For more on this, I produced this video in 2010 that’s still relevant: Why Online Video is Now a ‘Must Have’ for Internet Marketing)

Videos Starring You Are Essential

One of the best ways to grab people’s attention is video.  I am fond of reminding people that a video is starring you, has the added advantage of making a virtual human connection that only a human face and voice can deliver. Video does this quickly and in the exact way that brief home page visitor encounters require.

For more on why a human face should be in videos and not just hidden behind a whiteboard animated video, I recommend Wistia’s recent post, Your Business’s Videos Should Include Faces. Here’s Why.

The authenticity of human connection in video is one of the main reasons that I’ve been promoting video for years. I love opportunities that help my clients tell their stories by producing “welcome to my website” videos. Recently, I’ve produced two of these videos for clients. I’m offering them here as examples of how to do this, including some detailed production insights.

Helping an Expert Witness to Testify

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Mark Levy, a forensic psychiatrist whose firm provides expert testimony for legal matters. His new company website for Forensic Psychiatry Associates Medical Corporation, fpamed.com, needed a new video for its home page. Mark was clear that his earlier “do-it-yourself” effort didn’t represent him in with a professionalism that reflected his services. This collaboration took the form of a low-budget video shoot with my Canon DSLR camera.

As you can see in the video above, Mark is an excellent speaker; however, one issue with his earlier video, was that it ended up being a bit unfocused. Without wanting to toot my own horn too loudly, I was pleased to be able to add value, as a director and performance coach.  I’m not just a cameraman who sets up the camera and records “pretty pictures.”

In this case, I felt more like a “crafter of communications” because I guided Mark in ways that ensured his video had a structure, a beginning, middle and end. Now, he has a website welcome video that includes an engaging and direct welcome message and a call to action at the end.

Beyond YouTube for Online Video Delivery

Another capability that I provided and applied to Mark Levy’s videos was optimizing them for YouTube search. Behind only Google, YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. If you aren’t already aware of this fact, let it sink in. Many small businesses consider SEO optimization for their website, but most don’t think about optimizing their YouTube video clips to be found in search. This is a very common mistake and often overlooked by a video novice.

In addition to YouTube for attracting new viewers and potentially new website visitors, for Mark, I also recommended and implemented video hosting on Wistia.com so that when Mark’s video clips are embedded in his own website, they can be customized to match his website’s colors; and, more importantly, so that YouTube doesn’t have the opportunity to “steal” traffic away from Mark by pushing other psychiatrist’s videos to his viewers at the end of his clips.

Bottom line, Mark’s website is his own “owned” virtual real estate. Why let YouTube leverage it for their objectives? Owned media is a thing and we should all maximize this kind of control on our own websites as much as possible.

Wistia’s call-to-action and other integrated features within the video are more robust and attractive than YouTube’s. Because of this, videos look more seamless as they are integrated into websites.

Giving Wistia a try is easy given that their free introductory level includes three videos hosted on their video delivery platform. Beyond that, it’s $99 a month. This pricing may not work for every small business, but I recommend it for companies that have a serious commitment to video marketing. The image to the right is how this video looks embedded in Mark’s home page.

A More Scripted Approach & Cool Piece of Video Tech

I would also like to share a second video client case study. The second home page welcome video that I produced recently was for physical trainer, Adam Hirsch of adamhirsch.net. A significant difference, in this case, was that before the video shoot, Adam and I collaborated on a script.

Truth be told, while Adam is extremely knowledgeable about his expertise with physical training, his expansive perspective of this subject can also result in him being a bit verbose. Because of this, we needed to find a way to help him be more concise, especially given the online environment where, as I mentioned, holding people’s attention is at a premium. By collaborating on a script, we were able to co-create a straightforward and concise description of what Adam offers.  

However, this creates a different challenge. I didn’t expect (nor was there time) for Adam to memorize and deliver this script like a professional actor. So, while Adam’s new home page video was also shot with my Canon DSLR camera, we used a nifty little piece of technology in the form of a small affordable teleprompter that uses an iPhone for the scrolling text.

Another example of how advanced small electronics are becoming, the Parrot Teleprompter costs only $115 (plus shipping) and fits virtually any video camera. I loaded the written script onto my iPhone before the shoot, and used the voice-activated PromptSmartPro ($19.99, free version also available) so that the text scrolled right along with Adam’s pace of delivery. No teleprompter operator required.

Not only was the hardware a small fraction of what it used to cost, personnel costs were also significantly reduced. The use of a teleprompter, when appropriate, has become remarkably accessible!

I believe the result is a clear presentation, well-articulated and precisely-focused in a way that would not have been otherwise possible. Take a look and see what you think.

At Your Service

Bottom line, I approach online marketing as relationship building. The quality of communication, when done well, enables authentic connections to be built via whatever medium is at play and regardless of what technologies are used.

Sure, innovations like Wistia video hosting and the Parrot Teleprompter help make this happen, but there’s no substitute for quality content and that’s what we do.

I believe that the human beings who are such a crucial part of every forward-thinking organization or business needs to be “front and center,” right from that first nano-second that a web visitor spends on your website. After all, if you don’t engage with them in a personal way, right away, you will lose them.

Please let me know if I can help you or your organization. Thanks!

 

Digital Marketing Apps: My 6 Favorites. Video Webinar Recording and Free PDF Download.

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: Download the 6 Apps PDF

Leland combridges marketing app infographic small

No need to try to remember or take notes, 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.

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! 🙂

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

Six Key Strategic Priorities for Better Online Marketing in 2017

It’s a New Year, and the online marketing landscape is ever-changing. So I took to the video “airwaves” to share what I think are the six most important areas where your efforts online can bear meaningful “fruit.” Watch now:

I am putting the full text of this video below for your convenience. If you’re interested in considering being part of my Tribe, my Patreon channel is now live here: http://www.patreon.com/jonleland

My Recommendations: Six Online Marketing Priorities for 2017

Happy New Year everybody, and welcome to a brand new year of online marketing. My name is Jon Leland and I’m an online marketing mentor and strategist, and I’m committed to your success online. I’ve got six priorities that are my priorities and they might well be yours for the new year. Let’s get to them.

#1: Consistency

I have to tell you that this has not been my strong suit in the past, but everybody says that this is what you have to do, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m going to be walking my talk this year to be consistent, to do weekly videos, to do regular blog posts and to continue a strong online social presence. Without consistency it’s too hit and miss and you don’t establish a real connection with your audience. That really is a key priority.

#2: Intimacy vis Mobile

We all know that websites need to be mobile-friendly these days, and responsive design has been a main thing for a number of years, but I’m saying you need to be more than mobile-friendly, you need to be intimate. What I mean by that is really thinking about the mobile experience as a primary factor, not just to have Google rank you better but because more than half your visitors are now visiting on some kind of mobile device, and your experience, what you’re communicating and how you’re communicating in a mobile environment, is really a primary factor in how you’re connecting with your audience. Get it together in mobile. Get your website truly mobile-friendly in you could say an intimate kind of way.

#3: Video Proliferation

I’m sure that you’re aware that Facebook Live has become a big thing, but I’m surprised how many people think that online video is still just YouTube. You need to upload your videos native to Facebook, run-and-gun videos on Instagram. Video is everywhere, and not just at the top of the funnel either. It’s frequently thought of just as something that you attract people into your funnel, but at every stage of the funnel you really want to have video be there and create this kind of one-to-one, eyeball-to-eyeball connection that’s possible with video. Think about video through your entire funnel. Think about video on every platform, and do it more often, the way I’m starting to do now.

#4: Be Agile

With mobile technologies, with the ability to shoot video on a smartphone, you can do video anywhere, anytime. I also mean be agile with your websites. I’m doing more and more Squarespace websites because I can do them quickly, I can collaborate with clients, it’s far less complicated than a lot of other platforms. That kind of do things quickly, do them simply, do them well. Don’t turn them into big elaborate game-stopping productions like the way print brochures used to be, or even that websites used to be. Keep it simple, be agile, keep moving, keep creating.

$5: What Happens Next?

A lot of people talk about you get Facebook likes; what happens next? How do you actually engage? I’m thinking about it as a strategist, that conversions are really where the rubber hits the road. Not enough people think strategically in terms of that intention. How do you move from whatever you’re doing in terms of content, from whatever you’re doing in terms of being creative, move that through the channel, move that through the funnel so you truly engage, truly create authentic relationships, and at the end of the day have conversions that you can literally take to the bank?

#6: Build a Tribe

Number six is probably the closest to my heart. I really am going to be engaging with community. I’m going to be creating a Patreon channel. I’ll put that in the description in YouTube or in Facebook or wherever I upload this video ( http://www.patreon.com/jonleland ). Those of you that have heard me speak or have done any of my workshops or playshops know that the bottom line as far as I’m concerned is creating authentic, sustainable relationships. It’s not just about selling stuff, it’s about creating community, about generating a tribe. I’m trying to be as valuable as I can be for free. I want you to give me your feedback, tell me what you want to hear more of. I look forward to your comments and feedback. I hope you’ll become part of my tribe, my virtual community, and I really encourage you to build your own.

And, In Conclusion

I’m wishing you the happiest, most successful 2017 possible. May all of your marketing bear real fruit and may you keep going and keep generating and have fun every step of the way. I’ll be back with more. Thanks for 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.

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. 😉

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 😉

Live SF Event: The Future of Digital Video & Social Media at Commonwealth Club

YOU ARE INVITED TO A SPECIAL LIVE EVENT IN SAN FRANCISCO

Video-Future-Commonwealth-ClubSome things really do “change everything.” Video is one of those things.

Please join me Wednesday, October 28th at 6pm at San Francisco’s prestigious Commonwealth Club as I illuminate the game-changing mega-trends brought about by the digital video revolution.

As many of you know, I’ve been writing and teaching about The Video Web and the digital video revolution for literally decades. On Wednesday, October 28th, I’ll be unveiling a brand new presentation on the powerful new forms of digital video as they are literally playing out through social media and real time streaming media. Our media landscape is literally being reconfigured.

This will be a powerful and empowering event and I hope you will be there. I’d love your feedback as well as your participation.

To register, please click here: http://bit.ly/videofuture

 

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: