Oct 12, 2015 • Jessica Jones
Ready to join the bleeding edge of social media (or at least read about it)? One of the newer platforms that’s starting to gain some traction is Blab, a site so new that it’s still in beta. Blab is a video-based platform, but what sets it apart from other video-based social media like YouTube or Vine is the real-time social aspect. A Blab is a live conversation that can have up to four participants at once, splitting the screen into quarters so that viewers can see everyone involved.
<figcaption id="caption-attachment-3674" class="wp-caption-text">Blab - where video and the radio star are one and the same!</figcaption></figure>
Blab is intimately connected with Twitter; in fact, the only way to sign up for Blab is through your Twitter account. Viewers can look for you on Blab by searching your Twitter username - so make sure that you’re comfortable with your Twitter followers seeing and hearing anything that happens on Blab!
When you start your own blab you become the host, with the power to start and stop the Blab and to accept new participants to your Blab - or to remove them. A very recently added feature is the ability to designate a co-host if you would like to share the moderation responsibilities. If your Blab has an empty seat - i.e. currently has fewer than four participants - audience members can request to join. Viewers who aren’t a part of the Blab can interact too, using a chat feature that allows them to discuss the Blab, ask questions of the Blabbers, and express support of individual Blabbers by giving them feels, the Blab equivalent of likes.
Part of the positive buzz surrounding Blab right now involves the engagement of Blab’s staff. Since Blab is still in beta it’s especially important that the needs and opinions of its users are heard - and it seems as though the staff is taking that very seriously. The staff blogs frequently about Blab’s progress and to give tips about using Blab, and they’re not just hiding behind blog posts - they’re actively joining in on Blabs, getting directly involved with their users. This level of direct participation from the staff definitely bodes well; even if Blab doesn’t become a social media behemoth it seems like exactly the kind of format that’s likely to gain a steady, loyal user base.
So what’s Blab like right now? It’s a mixed bag, which is partly a result of it still being new and rough around the edges, but part of the appeal of such a wide open video chat format is that there will always be an element of “every day is anything can happen day.” When you visit blab.im you’ll see the Blabs that are on air currently, and they can range from more polished, professional business-related Blabs to … significantly less slick Blabs. I watched a scruffy fellow rooting around under the bed in his fairly messy room for some unknown object while ranting about the evils of corporations while, in the other occupied Blab seat, his shirtless co-host lounged on a sofa with a glazed expression. If you get a bit of a kick out of voyeurism you’ll find plenty to entertain you here.
Okay, so Blab is the frontier of video-chat-meets-social-media - is it a tool that could be useful for your business? Possibly. Obviously there are plenty of businesses out there that wouldn’t really have anywhere to go with a format like this - and plenty of others that simply wouldn’t want to take on the risk factor of opening themselves up to such an unpredictable platform. For businesses that are open to the idea, though, Blab has a lot of potential.
The thing that you want to avoid is turning your Blab into a commercial. Not only is that not in the spirit of Blab - and unappealing to potential viewers - but being sales-pitchy on Blab is likely to get you some negative attention from Blabbers. When your viewers are live-chatting in response to your content - or maybe even sharing the camera with you - your Blab could go pear-shaped pretty quickly if you’re not prepared to handle it.
This brings up another crucial element to using Blab for business - make sure that whoever is in front of the camera is up to the job. This is the internet’s version of live television; there are no takebacks, and these are real people you’re talking to. If you don’t have a plan to deal with difficult questions then this might not be the format for you. If you wouldn’t be comfortable with someone representing your business in front of the mike on a radio show with call-in questions, don’t put them on Blab.
If, however, you’ve got a great representative, someone witty and quick on their feet who loves the idea of interacting directly with viewers in an unpredictable environment and wants to get out there for your company, there are endless possibilities. Topical Blabs where you host discussions about subjects relevant to your industry. Informational Blabs where you present educational material and invite questions and further discussion (there will always be discussion - this is not a lecture hall; never prepare for a Blab as though you will be the only voice speaking). Talk show style Blabs where you interview specific guests. Sit down with your staff and do some brainstorming - I’m betting it won’t take you long to come up with some great ideas for Blab content.
One of the great things about Blab is that there are plenty of ways to get your show in front of your audience, even those who didn’t happen to be on Blab while it was airing, or who aren’t using Blab at all. As a Blab moderator you have the option to record the show, and at the end you’ll be given a link to download either an mp3 or an mp4 of the Blab. This means that you can upload your Blab (or part of it, if you choose to edit it down some) to your YouTube channel and then share the video to your other social media venues.
No, Blab is not for everyone, not by far. Blab is unpredictable and spontaneous and involves an element of risk - if it doesn’t sound like fun to you (or to the staff member you’re thinking of putting in charge of it) then you should probably skip it. Just pushing a product on Blab isn’t going to get you anywhere - to gain followers and connect with your audience you need to have a real passion for talking to people. If you’ve got that, and the idea of Blab appeals to you, you might really benefit from claiming territory on this new frontier. Let us know if you give it a try, I’d love to check out your Blab!