Using blab For Marketing

It’s pretty new, so it’s possible you’ve not even heard of it yet. blab is a new live-video streaming network that I only became aware of a couple of weeks ago. I subscribe to tons of blogs about social media, exactly for this purpose: so that I’ll know when something new comes around.

There are new things coming around all the time, but there have been a few over the last few months that are feeling like they are catching fire, and all of them have been live video streaming networks.

blab

Blab.im is live-streaming video that allows you to include up to 4 people in your chat, including yourself. It also combines a live chat feature on the right-hand margin, so anyone watching can ask you questions.

In many ways, blab is an extension of the new live-streaming video services of Periscope and Meercat. Those ones only allow you to do a single live-stream; just yourself, and, if you can get someone else in the shot, them as well. But you just have one camera. People can ask you questions via text, and you answer them live online.

blab allows you to have a live-streamed conversation between up to 4 people, and they don’t have to be the same 4 people. We did one the other day with Steve Dotto and Vicki Mcleod, and we left the fourth “seat” open, so that people could jump in and ask questions.

Here are my thoughts after doing my first one:

  • tell a little bird blabThe technology works pretty well. I’ve been frustrated a lot with Periscope. Many of the times I’ve tried to do one, the technology has failed in some way. With blab, we had a few problems with sound (echo), but that was the main issue. Other than that, the image was great, and we were all able to see and hear each other quite well.
  • blab is connected to Twitter. This is always, always, always a good thing. Like Periscope, when you start a  Blab, it sends a tweet to all your twitter followers encouraging them to join. There is also a feature in Blab (on the left-hand side of the screen) called “Tell a Little Bird” that allows anyone on the chat to tweet about it. Great for pulling in viewers.
  • It’s not limited to an app. While there is a blab app, it works just as well, or maybe even better, on your computer. There are advantages to this. I was able to look stuff up in the middle of the chat, without having to run off. Plus, the bigger screen advantage…
  • Scheduling and Push Notifications: You can schedule blabs in advance, which is a great advantage over many of the other live-streaming apps. If you have the app on your phone, you’ll also get push notifications every time someone you follow is starting a new one, or any time someone mentions you in a blab chat.
  • You can give “ups”. Like Periscope (who uses hearts) you can give praise or cred, or whatever you want to call it, by clicking on that person’s quadrant.
  • chat feed blabYou may need to dedicate one person to monitoring the feed. Our chat feed got a bit crazy, as we had 30 or so people watching and asking questions and interacting. It’s a great idea to dedicate one person to monitoring this and bringing up people’s questions so they don’t get lost.
  • You may not have answers to things. Here’s the problem with doing a live-stream, any live-stream. People are probably going to ask you questions you don’t have the answers to. There may be gaffes and snafus. This is all part of live-streaming. It’s live.
  • There’s no “private” version so far. You can’t use it for personal use–it’s public all the way.

How can we use blab for marketing?

  • Interviews with experts: you can host your own TV show, of sorts, by interviewing an expert in your field. If you are a clothing boutique, you could interview a stylist about next season’s trends. You can then have one or two seats open for people to jump in and ask questions. This has numerous applications: beauty, lifestyle, cooking and food, home decorating, exercise….
  • Customer service: you could host a blab where your customers can jump on and ask you questions in real time and you can answer them and solve their problems.
  • AMAs: you could host an “ask me anything” with a local celebrity, or even with the executives of your company.
  • Contests and real-time events: get your fans or clients involved by including them in the action! Watch real-time as three competitors attempt to see who can hold tree pose the longest, who can do 15 pushups the fastest, etc…

Have you tried blab? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Intstagram’s Top Hashtags [Infographic]

It’s been a big couple of weeks for updates to Instagram.

With 1 Million estimated monthly unique visitors, Instagram is, beyond doubt, a force to be reckoned with.

There was quite a hoopla a couple weeks back when Hootsuite announced that you could now “schedule” posts to Instagram. It caused quite a rukus, and my hope was, after I read the article, that Hootsuite had done some kind of special deal with Instagram that allowed them, exclusively, around Instagram’s very tight API. This turned out to not be the case. Yes, you can schedule your Instagrams on Hoostuite. Kind of. Actually, what you do is upload your photo and write your description, then Hootsuite reminds you at the time you set to post it. You then log on to Instagram and complete the post. Sad Trombone. No different, as far as I can tell, than using an app like Latergramme.

In more exciting news, Instagram announced yesterday that you can now upload Portrait and Landscape images. This actually is a big deal, because in the past, it was square, square, and nothing but square. Now, when I’m shooting photos on my phone, it’s not a huge deal, as I just switch my camera to the square photo option. However, I sometimes shoot on my DSLR, and then upload those photos to Instagram, and in that case, I’d find myself using an app that “squarifies” my photos, like Squaredy. Well, no longer! I’m happy to delete that one.

Now, here’s today’s Infographic. You’ll remember this post from a while back: Top Instagram Hashtags for Food Bloggers. This one is a more general version of that.

Just to note: using a popular hashtag has pros and cons. Yes, there are more people searching that hashtag, but that means that there is also more competition for it. Additionally, don’t use hashtags that are not related to your post. Using #me, for example, on a photo of a donut, might be misleading, so I’d avoid that. My last note: I know they are popular, and they will get you likes and follows, but I avoid any hashtags that put me in a position where I am compelled to like someone else’s stuff back. I’m too much of a control freak for that!

Want a few more excellent Instagram tips? Check out this recent (and very funny) article from Vogue.

Now, here are Instagram’s Top Hashtags (as determined by their sheer volume):

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Graphs.net.

Reflections on Digital Detox

“Online” is my life. It’s not strange for me to spend easily 8 hours of my day on my computer, then go to work and teach other people (on computers). There are some days I spend 12 hours online–in social media, or on my computer–writing, updating, emailing.

It’s all good. I love my work, so no complaints. But this spring has been especially intense and very, very busy.

So to say that it was a relief to get off of my computer for a week or two is a big understatement. The last 10 days, I have been at at remote cabin on a lake on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no electricity. There’s no wifi. And my phone, at the very most, had 2 bars of service at any given time.

One of the great things about my job is that I can work anywhere there is a wifi connection, as long as I have my computer. I love that. But sometimes I just don’t want to work, y’know?

Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?
Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?

So, yes, I took my computer with me to the Sunshine Coast. I could hotspot wifi when needed, and one day I went into town and worked at a Starbucks for a couple of hours and got a bunch of stuff done. But during the time I was there, I only turned my computer on about 5 times–and a couple of those were to download e-books so I’d have something to read.

I kept my phone on “airplane mode” most of the time, as constant push updates drain the battery, and I wanted to have to tap into the solar- and gas-generated electricity as little as possible. I’d check in to FB, Twitter and Instagram a couple times a day, and text my son, who was staying at his Gramma’s on the Island.

My days were basically filled with three things: reading, eating (and associated chores), and swimming. That was it. There was no schedule. No rules. Just get up when you feel like it, drink coffee, nap, eat, swim, read, go to bed when you feel like it.

It wasn’t a 100% digital detox, but it was as close as I get.

It was a very interesting experience. I have alarm bells in my head that go off every 15 or 30 minutes if I haven’t checked my email or my Twitter or my Facebook. Like many of you, I have my face in my phone all the time. If I’m waiting in line, I’m checking Instagram.

So, it was weird, at first, to fight that urge to look at my phone all the time. But then I started to get used to it, and then something strange happened. Facebook started to feel trivial. Yeah, there was stuff about Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison, and Donald Trump. But it all started to feel immaterial.

A second odd thing that happened was that I stopped talking about my life on social media. I must shamefully confess that yes, I post stuff on there to make my friends jealous. I’m a food blogger, I love to travel, and I love to share my experiences with my friends online. They post stuff, I feel envy, and vice versa. And, even though I was in a beautiful place, cooking beautiful meals and having great experiences, I didn’t feel compelled to share them on Facebook. I wanted to keep them for myself. Or maybe, I wanted to really experience them, rather than experiencing them through the lens of my camera. I did a lot of just sitting and looking, rather than sitting, looking, taking photos and sharing them on Facebook.

It was great. So relaxing. And chill. Really, exactly what I needed.

I’m back now, and it feels weird. As weird as it was to be off of social media, now that I’m back where I could be all the time, I’m not really that interested. Last night, I went to pick up sushi (the one thing I really really missed while at a place where there were no restaurants), and, instead of checking out Instagram or Twitter while I waited, I sat outside and people-watched. It was kind of nice.

I don’t consider myself to be a slave to my iPhone. I always have tried to use it mindfully. But it’s easy to get reeled in.

If you feel like you’re a slave to your phone, here are some tips for a modified digital detox:

  • Set a timer. Get on to FB and Twitter for 15 minutes, then get off when the timer dings.
  • Turn off all push notifications, or at least turn off any beeps. On my phone, I have badges only for notifications. I like to be able to determine when I want to check, not when my phone commands me. I only have sound notifications for phone calls and text messages (which could be related to work or my son).
  • Turn your phone on silent at night, or put it on airplane mode. Read before bed–not on your phone!

Here are some tips for a digital detox by friend Vicki, who does one yearly. She does the real deal, not a modified one like mine!

Have you done a digital detox? Let me know in the comments below!