Photo of an owl for the Blab story
Image courtesy Steve Wilson

Dearly Departed update: Blab no longer exists. 🙁

Think of Blab.im as Meerkat or Periscope except for public video chats featuring up to four people instead of one. Blab is the new live video streaming hotness, as you can see from the amount of buzz it’s generating.

There were 126,355 tweets using the #Blab hashtag during the past month, according to Topsy:

Chart: Tweets Mentioning Blab - August 2015-September 2015

And, as you can see from the following Google Trends chart, searches for Blab spiked dramatically in August:

Chart: Search Volume For Blab - July 2015-September 2015

Like Google Hangouts on Air, Blab allows anyone the ability to live-stream a public video chat. Unlike Google Hangouts on Air and like Meerkat and Periscope, Blab is super easy for anyone to use.

All you need is a browser and a working video camera attached to your computer for using it from the web or you can use the iOS app from your smart phone.

You use your Twitter login information to create an account and Blab then takes your username, photo and bio information from Twitter to create your Blab profile. So, where my Twitter account is Twitter.com/derickson my Blab account is Blab.im/derickson.

Since Blab connects to your Twitter social graph, it will also automatically find any of your Twitter connections who are also using Blab so you don’t start out all sad and lonely with zero followers and no one you know who is using it.

Finding Blabs

You can tune in to currently-broadcasting Blabs from the On Air tab on the service’s home page or in the app, likewise you can find upcoming and previously-broadcast Blabs in the Scheduled and Replays tabs, respectively. You can also do keyword searches or use tags to find Blabs that interest you. Just click on a show’s thumbnail image to start watching.

Screenshot: Blab.im Home Page

Hosting A Blab

Hosting a blab is nearly as easy as joining one. Click the Start a new blab button and you’ll get the following screen where you can write your title, apply up to three tags to make it easier to find, and start the Blab right away or set a time to broadcast in the future.

Screenshot: Host a blab screen

Schedule your Blab far enough in the future to allow yourself plenty of time to market it.

Screenshot: Blab Scheduling Screen

Once you’ve scheduled your Blab, an episode page will be created with a prominently-displayed countdown clock till the show starts. The page uses your name and the title of the show in the page URL structure and uses the title of the show in the page’s HTML Title tag, to help with search optimization. Visitors to the page can subscribe, tweet a link to the show, and leave comments.

Screenshot: Blab Episode Page

Use the Tell a little bird button to tweet your link and be sure to promote your Blab in other social channels, blog and newsletter. When you start the show, be sure to click Record if you want to allow people to watch the Blab after the fact and if you want the video file and embed code to use.

During the show, viewers can comment on the side, follow your Blab account, and give you Props, which is the equivalent of a Like or a Thumbs Up. You can also invite viewers to join the Blab.

The Replay recording features only the video of the participants but not the Twitter usernames identifying each individual, nor any of the visitor activity such as the giving of Props or posting comments.

Here’s a screenshot of what a live show looks like on the mobile app:

Screenshot: Live Mobile Blab

And here is a recording of a Blab I did with my podcast co-host, BL Ochman, who recently wrote about Blab.im for AdAge.

6 Ways Individuals Can Use Blab

Blab is a great tool for quick, informal video chats that individuals can use for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Simply discussing a topic for which you have an interest
  2. Bloggers can use it to expand on a recent post and interact directly with their readers
  3. Journalists can use it:
    1. To discuss their beat in general,
    2. Or a particular story or series,
    3. To tease an upcoming broadcast segment,
    4. Cover breaking news,
    5. Or interview subjects to create video for a story
  4. Authors can use Blab to offer themselves as an expert on the topic of their book
  5. Podcasters can use it for engaging with listeners
  6. Industry thought leaders can host an Ask Me Anything session

6 Ways Companies & Brands Can Use Blab

While brands should consider Blab in beta (for which it is prominently labeled on the site), tread lightly and consider it an experimental vehicle at this point.

It is about six months old, so we don’t know whether Twitter will pull out the rug from under them like it did with Meerkat, for example. Even if they do, I think the four-way informal live video chat format is here to stay, whether it’s Blab or a competitor doing it. That said, brands can likely find value in hosting Blabs for:

  1. Interviews with internal experts
  2. Live coverage of brand events or conferences
  3. Behind-the-scenes footage for
    1. Product launches
    2. Media appearances
    3. Employee volunteer activities
  4. Attracting talent
  5. Virtual press event
  6. Engaging with industry influencers

Use your imagination and I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty more uses for this exciting new communications tool.