…and other live video streaming apps
So what’s the hottest platform for getting your message across online? Right now, the platform that offers perhaps the most opportunity is live video streaming. It’s a concept that has been around for a while but only recently has it started to mature thanks to innovative new apps and the hardware and networks to support live streaming.
The big companies aren’t here yet, which means that “the little guy” has an exciting opportunity to take advantage of the platform. It’s trendy, it’s hip and it has some unique features and possibilities that can help you to market your products in entirely new ways. At the same time, it offers excellent ROI, being relatively simple to set up while still providing a lot of return.
So, where can you learn about such a new marketing platform? You’re looking right at it!
Here’s what you’ll learn from this guide:
- The benefits and challenges of live video streaming
- The most prominent apps and platforms for getting set up
- Lesser known options for video streaming
- How to ensure you get lots of viewers
- Tons of ideas for video content
- How video streaming compares to regular video marketing – advantages and disadvantages
- How to create a synergistic campaign using other marketing activities
- How to create high quality videos without spending thousands of dollars on equipment
- How to monetize your streaming activities for maximum returns
- Where video streaming is going and what opportunities to look out for in future
- And much more…
If you want to stay one step ahead of your competition, if you want to make the absolute maximum advantage of an exciting new marketing opportunity, if you want to engage with your audience in a whole new, exciting way… then keep reading!
Why Go Live?
While the savviest of internet marketers and technologists will no doubt be well aware of the growing status of video streaming, this is nevertheless still a relatively new field and an area that many marketers won’t be well acquainted with yet.
Look for advice on marketing a website, a brand or products online and the advice will normally be to use:
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Even video marketing…
But ‘live video streaming’ often doesn’t get a mention. It’s just too new at this point and as such, it’s not yet on everyone’s radar.
If it’s not that well known though, then surely it can’t be that big a deal… right?
In fact, the statistics and figures paint a very different picture of video marketing and demonstrate it to be very much on the forefront of marketing at the moment.
For instance, did you know that there are over 10,000,000 user accounts on Periscope? And if you add up all the footage on that app, it comes to over 40 years of footage already. Not bad for a company that was only launched in March 2015, with just 23 employees!
That tells you that Periscope is already massive but also that it’s very much climbing. If it’s had that many new subscribers in that short amount of time, imagine how many it will have in a few years!
Certainly Twitter sees the potential of this platform; the company bought the app shortly after for the princely sum of $100 million. Twitter are generally pretty good at predicting market trends when it comes to social media… Today Meerkat is in the top 100 apps in the App Store, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Facebook, Microsoft Office and Angry Birds.
Periscope has 2 million active users everyday, is enjoyed in 25 countries and is generally one of the most exciting up-and-coming platforms available. In its first month of launching, it was receiving over 60K Tweets daily.
And it’s not all about Periscope either. Meerkat actually launched around the same time and by the end of its first month it had 120,000 users. YouTube has also been on the act and when it streamed coverage of E3 in 2015, it managed to pull in an absolutely massive eight million viewers in just 12 hours (E3 being ‘The Electronic Entertainment Expo’ – a big gaming tradeshow). Twitch is an app that focusses on streaming games footage and has 12 billion users at the end of 2014. Blab has also recently launched in Beta and is already grabbing headlines with its unique take on streaming ‘live conversations’. While it might be quite small right now, its engagement is fantastic: the average user spends 65 minutes a day watching content through the tool!
Talk about raw potential. In other words, all the smart money is on live streaming continuing to grow at this exponential rate. It could well be as much a part of everyday life as social media in a few years.
And now is the perfect time to get involved. This is a platform that isn’t yet saturated with marketers. Right now, there’s a good chance your niche is empty or at least not completely overcrowded. With the right marketing message you can easily stand out and put yourself ahead of the pack.
Even if it never takes off beyond its current popularity, it’s a cheap, risk-free way to market that requires nothing more than a mobile phone.
What is Live Streaming? How is it Different From Video Marketing?
Before we dig any further, let’s look at what precisely live streaming is and how it’s different from conventional video marketing. What’s the lie of the land right now? Who are the major players?
Of course the central concept behind live video streaming is fairly straightforward and simple to grasp: it simply involves streaming video footage live as opposed to pre-recording footage and uploading it.
This is a little like video conferencing then, except it’s only one way. Your audience can tune in to watch what’s going on and in doing so, they can gain live access to whatever you’re filming.
What Are Live Streaming Apps?
What’s really caused all this commotion though is the introduction of the big live streaming apps that we touched on earlier. These apps include Periscope and Meerkat (Blab to a lesser extent – more on that later).
What they bring to the table that sets them apart, are the ability to comment on the videos as they play, to ask questions, to ‘like’ the feeds and to follow users as they might on social media.
These are very much smartphone apps however. This means that the footage is going to be filmed on a smartphone, which doesn’t lend itself to the highest production values. And neither of course does the fact that it’s live and therefore unedited. Mistakes are likely but that’s part of the charm when footage is being streamed.
But really that’s part of the charm and professional quality is beside the point.
YouTube Live Streaming meanwhile is slightly different and offers some distinct advantages and disadvantages. For instance, YouTube of course gives you access to a much larger audience – but it’s ironically considerably harder to reach a new audience. In order for people to find your live stream, they’ll either need to be subscribed to your channel, or they’ll need an ‘invite link’ in order to find your content. Periscope and Meerkat on the other hand, allow people to instantly find your content by just browsing content.
YouTube Live Streaming can be useful then when combined with something like an advertising campaign, or conventional video marketing – this is what we were saying earlier about using synergy between your different marketing techniques. Periscope though makes it likely that you’ll potentially get followers for every video you broadcast. And it’s so new and exciting that truth be told, it doesn’t even need to be good…
Then there are the others. Blab is an interesting live streaming app that focusses more on conversations rather than ‘general’ video. Blab is all about watching ‘conversations that matter to you’, though there’s nothing stopping you from using it for different things.
Twitch meanwhile is specifically for streaming game content – something that is surprisingly popular on YouTube as well. Twitch has a strong social element and a massive user-base, though its utility as a marketing tool is relatively small. If you’re creating games-related content though, then you simply must be on Twitch.
And finally there are the other related platforms that aren’t quite live streaming but are more like distant cousins. For instance, the ability to send short videos with a large audience almost instantly via Snap Chat has been likened to Live Video Streaming and has its own unique marketing potential. Meanwhile, while there’s no video involved, a live ‘AMA’ on Reddit shares much in common.
In this book, we’ll be looking predominantly at Periscope, Meerkat and Blab (in roughly that order…). These are the ‘big’ platforms that have everyone talking and that are dedicated to livestreaming in its most concentrated form. These are the platforms that most people think of when discussing video streaming and they are the most comparable platforms with the most in common.
What’s the Appeal of Live Video Streaming?
Meerkat describes itself as being the ‘closest thing to teleportation’ and in many ways, it has succeeded in that aim. If you’ve never used a live video streaming app before, then it’s highly recommended that you give one a go. You don’t have to create any video content yet: just follow the instructions on how to set up, pick yourself a platform and start looking at the content that other people have created.
What you’ll find is that it really does feel as though you’re getting a strange insight into the lives and routines of people across the world. And what’s more, by commenting on what they’re doing you’ll feel as though you’re able to actually communicate and play a role in their lives. This is particularly true on Periscope that has a particularly voyeuristic feel in terms of the content that is regularly shown.
In minutes, you can be following someone down the street as they walk through Paris and you can comment to say you like their hat. This is a small thing, but it’s the next logical step in bringing us that little bit closer together and making the world that much smaller. This is the next logical step for the likes of Facebook (which now has its own video chat function by the way) and it’s almost bound to catch on soon as a result.
There’s also just something very exciting about participating in something that’s live. When something is live, you feel as though you’re getting privileged access to footage that won’t be around for ever and you feel as though anything could happen. This is why viewership of something like a sitcom goes up a large amount when viewers know that the episode is being aired live.
From a marketing perspective there’s lots to be excited about, but there’s also lots to be excited about from a pure ‘progress’ point of view. And the more people jump on board and get excited for something, the more opportunity it will have for marketers.
We’ll talk more about the future possibilities of live video streaming but right now there’s already a ton to be excited about and a lot that can be done with this platform.
For instance, imagine that there’s a huge event such as a launch party, a rally, a sporting event or a just a big house party. Lots of people who attend that event then all stream the same event live through their phones and this then allows anyone who happens to on the platform to watch that event from countless different angles and from the eyes of countless different people. People can comment and discuss the event live as it’s happening and the person filming can answer questions.
It will only take for there to be some huge event streamed like through Periscope for countless people to be attracted to the platform. Bleak though it is to think about, imagine something like 9/11 or a tsunami being filmed through one of these tools. The ability for it to change our lives and to create more empathy for our fellow residents of Earth is huge.
This could even be used as an organizational tool. Imagine security at an event being able to use Periscope to communicate with one another and to instruct each other where to go. A live feed would allow backup to swarm in on any position that was facing a lot of trouble.
Likewise, the tool could be used by families to stay in touch with their loved ones across the world. It could be used by celebrities to stream their red carpet events and to give their fans a real inside behind the scenes view as to what’s happening in their lives.
For users, Periscope and Meerkat really let you ‘teleport’ to anywhere in the world. Enjoy looking at places on Google Maps? Imagine being able to see the pyramids through the eyes of a stranger on their holiday. Or imagine being able to experience what it might be like for someone on the front line in a war, or for deep sea diver, or for a zookeeper.
Or of course, it can simply be used as a way to catch up with some interesting video content that has a far more interactive appeal. Imagine being able to watch your favorite fitness vlogger review products over their morning breakfast while you enjoy your breakfast on Blab. And then imagine being able to pitch in whenever you like with your own thoughts on the matter. It’s the next step for vlogging and even for blogging.
Better yet, imagine being able to attend any concert or any comedy act just by streaming it through your phone. All this is possible with live video streaming and as more and more people realize this, apps like these are going to gain popularity and momentum. The progression of technology will only drive this further and in short, this is a tide that won’t be slowed and certainly won’t be stopped.
What’s the Appeal for Marketers Right Now?
The huge appeal of live video streaming means that more and more people are going to be signing up to apps like these in the future. This is exciting news for marketers. But what about right now? What are the advantages to signing up today and starting to build your own following?
Actually the biggest appeal right now is that it’s so new. If you log into Meerkat or Blab then you can expect to see about 6-7 videos streaming at any one time, perhaps 20 on a good day during peak hours. People are excited about this technology and they’re interested, which means that new people are popping up on the platform all the time. If you’re one of those 6-7 videos to check out, then you’re going to get viewers and new followers almost instantly. Some niches are pretty much entirely empty too. If you’re interested in being a thought leader in the fitness niche, or in the martial arts niche, then your video will often be the only one available on that topic.
And because you have the ability to really interact with that audience and engage with them, this gives you the huge ability to properly connect with the people you’re speaking to. That way, you can build real fans rather than just followers.
What’s more, if you manage to get 100 followers on Blab or on Meerkat, then this will put you ahead of the pack when the idea really starts to gain traction. This means that you can build yourself up to be huge and when everyone is doing it, no one will be able to get past your head-start.
These platforms are also perfect for influencer marketing. Blab is particularly great for this as you can sign up and join in with people who are discussing topics and you can gain exposure to their audience. At the same time, you’ll be able to create lasting relationships with influencers in your niche who may be interested in sharing your link on their blog or working together as a result.
Live streaming is also perfect for building buzz and hype around a launch and for offering something different to your viewers. If you have a mailing list and you’re thinking of launching a product, then why not discuss that product with your subscribers on Blab first? Just give them the link and you’ll be able to get one-to-one face time and discussion with that audience you’ve spend so long building! This can also make a launch event far more exciting and means that you can have thousands of people in attendance from around the world, rather than just the few people that you invited.
When you do this, you’ll be promoting your brand and promoting Blab, thereby growing the platform at the same time as growing your audience.
Something else to consider is that right now, there is a real buzz around live video streaming. Not just in terms of all the blogs and articles talking about it and hailing it as the ‘next big thing’ but also in the way that people interact with you when you’re on the site. Log onto to Periscope and start discussing a topic and you’ll find people sign up and like your content out of interest. Everything is new right now and everything is exciting.
Likewise, when you log into someone’s Blab, you’re probably get a mention by name and an invitation to join in. This is unlikely to happen when there are billions of people on the platform. This is an exciting time to get involved so don’t miss it!
The Three Big Live Video Streaming Platforms
Now you know a little more about what Live Video streaming is and why it’s worthy of your attention, it’s time to take a more in-depth look at the main players and at which one is right for you. How is Periscope different from Meerkat? How is Meerkat different from Blab? Which one should you be on? Or should you be on all of them? This chapter will answer all those questions.
A History of Streaming Apps
Over the course of this guide so far, we’ve rather labored the idea that video streaming is a relatively new marketing platform. That’s no exaggeration: Meerkat was really the first to start drawing lots of media attention to the concept and that was first announced in March 2015. This responded in a flurry of blog posts, Tweets, articles and general coverage. Everyone was talking about the many exciting possibilities that something like this opened up.
In fact Meerkat was not the ‘first’ live video streaming app of its kind by a long shot. There have been many more similar apps announced over the years. The key difference here though, is that Meerkat was one of the first to see the mainstream media coverage and general attention that it received. Others just kind of sank into obscurity and failed to deliver on their promise.
Anyway, Meerkat was poised to be the ‘next big thing’ and over 120,000 people had signed up by the end of the first month. Unfortunately for the creators of Meerkat though, Twitter realized that the company was onto something and so decided to launch their own competing app by buying the lesser known Periscope app for $100 million.
Actually, Meerkat began life as a service that was heavily intertwined with Twitter. When it first launched (previously under the names ‘AIR’ and ‘Yevvo’) you actually needed to sign in with your Twitter account.
Quickly Periscope overtook Meerkat and became the streaming video app of choice for most marketers and other businesses.
Blab meanwhile is very much in its infancy too. The company was founded by a team working on a relaunch of Bebo (an older social network aimed at a younger audience). Blab was their brainchild and two weeks later the app was born. On August 6th 2015, Blab gained some media attention after hosting a live commentary and aftershow of the Republican Debate.
YouTube meanwhile has been described by Wired as the ‘sleeping giant’ of live streaming. The company has all the pieces in place to make a real showing in this space but has yet to truly invest in the idea. That does seem to be changing though with high profile events such as the aforementioned E3 stream and a Munich vs. Hamburg game gaining mass followings.
And of course with any new field exploding like this there are going to be many more new apps trying to get in on the action. ‘YouNow’ for instance has been around for four years and claims to be bigger than either Meerkat or Periscope. The company has been known to pay its top streamers and has invested as much as $1 million into some of the biggest names. YouNow also has over 100 million user sessions per month and 4-5 million active users, so why is no-one talking about it? Likely YouNow
Features of Each
In order to choose which of these platforms is best for you, it makes sense to start by looking at the differences between them. Which is best suited to your particular marketing needs and what are the differentiating factors?
We’ll be looking at the big three for now, as these are the up-and-coming platforms that you should very much consider engaging with.
In terms of popularity, Periscope is certainly the larger platform and also has a number of celebrity endorsements (which can’t help). When the two platforms first went live, they had roughly identical numbers of broadcasters (around 20,000) live at once. This has since changed however, with Periscope pulling ahead with more downloads, streams and views.
In fact, Meerkat doesn’t have quite the traction you might initially have thought any more. To put its success in perspective, there are actually more downloads for the ‘Talking Tom for Messenger’, which is an animated cat you can use on Facebook.
Periscope’s Twitter investment also gives it something of an edge in terms of functionality and UI. When you compare the look of both these apps, Periscope certainly has the more modern, intuitive and elegant appearance. Meerkat can sometimes feel a little cluttered at times with lots of information appearing on top of the videos. The yellow colorscheme is also going to have its fans and its detractors… Periscope on the other hand, is a slick app with an attractive interface and is very much a modern piece of software.
Meerkat also has a lot less on offer in terms of navigation options. You can see a home feed of live content, including content from your followers and you can search to add specific users. But that’s about it. Periscope on the other hand lets you find people based on their location and there’s generally a lot more going on.
In terms of extra features, Periscope offers the following over and above Meerkat:
Replays: After you have streamed footage on Meerkat, it will disappear never to be seen again. Periscope footage meanwhile is stored for 24 hours on the platform, meaning that your followers can watch the streams they missed. This creates a lot more opportunity for people to discover new content.
Data: Periscope gives you a fair amount more data to look at after you have been streaming. These metrics can be used to help you hone your marketing activities in order to reach a larger audience and make a bigger impression.
Note that to use Periscope, you’ll need to login with your Twitter account. This is an advantage and a disadvantage. If you don’t have Twitter then it’s a fiddle but if you do then it’s a great way to connect with your followers.
But Meerkat does have some advantages that make it impressive in its own way. For instance, Meerkat lets you ‘schedule’ videos which means that people will know what’s coming up and will know to tune in at a certain time. At the same time, Meerkat lets you connect with users via Facebook and via Twitter.
So what about Blab? Well, Blab is a completely different kettle of fish being largely focussed on conversations and interviews. Comparing the platforms directly though, it is easy to see some interesting advantages of Blab under the right circumstances.
Periscope for instance only allows one host for each video, with broadcasts being known as a ‘scope’. Blab on the other hand lets 2-4 users host each video. Users can join broadcasts as a host to share the video with their user, and the original creator can then decide whether or not to accept that request. This is a very interesting mechanism that certainly has some advantages, especially if you’re at all interested in influencer marketing. This is a great way to get your brand seen by a much larger audience.
Another great feature? Blab’s videos remain indefinitely for infinite playbacks.
Which One is Right for You?
With all this in mind then, which of these platforms should you use? Should you use any of them? Or perhaps you should use all of them?
Of course the answer is going to depend a lot on your specific requirements and likely you’ve already outlined a few ideas as to what will work best for you.
For instance, if you’re planning on conducting lots of interviews and having discussions, then you may find that Blab lends itself nicely to your business model. Blab is also ideal for bloggers and businesses with a podcast – the discussions that Blab engenders lend themselves nicely to being formatted into a podcast format and they’re great for people who just want something to listen to while they cook or while they’re working out.
You can also use Blab as an excellent tool for influencer marketing. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact directly with some of the bigger names in blogging and in your niche and this way you can create more of a lasting impression that might lend itself nicely to further developing that relationship into a partnership.
But then again, Blab also isn’t particularly flexible. What’s more is that it isn’t particularly visual either. We mentioned that it lent itself quite nicely to podcasts and this should somewhat underscore what a backseat the footage really takes. These look like webcam discussions, they don’t take up much real estate and most of the videos consist of talking heads. Being able to talk with people face to face does make a big difference but this really doesn’t lend itself to anything more visual like a big launch event or a concert.
Blab is in beta right now too, so it’s hard to say at this stage how big the platform is ultimately likely to be. You can use it as it is and you’ll have access to a fairly large number of viewers but the platform isn’t huge at the moment either.
If you’re interesting in building relationship, creating seminars and hosting discussions, try Blab. For the more flexible form of live video streaming, try one of the other two platforms.
So if you’re going down this route then, which of the two big streaming apps should you use? Periscope or Meerkat?
Again, this will all come down to personal preference and to whichever of the platforms best suits your business model. But if we were forced to pick one of these two platforms as the bigger one for finding your audience, then we would have to choose Periscope. Why? Simply because it has a bigger viewership, more features and options and the opportunity to replay footage that you missed. Periscope seems to be on the up and up, whereas growth for Meerkat appears to be slowing somewhat in comparison.
That said, there are advantages to Meerkat. If you check out most of the content on Periscope then you’ll find that it’s more social in tone than Meerkat. This is a good and bad thing.
Look on Meerkat and you’ll find people talking about their day, talking about workout routines, discussing their favorite makeup, playing video games etc. The very straightforward lay out and the relative dearth of content seems to lend itself to a much more organized and structured approach. The ability to ‘schedule’ streams also aids with this. This platform feels more like a platform for vloggers and marketers that has simply taken regular video marketing live.
On the other hand, Periscope seems to be much more an app that people open up when they feel like sharing what they’re doing and just messing around. A lot of the content on this platform consists of people filming their morning commute to work, leaving their phone on while they’re singing on the computer in the background or even just lying and staring at the camera. There are likewise lots of videos of people walking down the street.
That’s not to say that Periscope doesn’t have the facilities to be used as a more professional vlogging platform, it’s merely to illustrate that for the moment, the content here tends to be a little more voyeuristic in nature compared with the other two options.
A good way to decide which is for you then, is to spend some time watching content on both, building a following and seeing which lends itself best to the kind of work that you intend to do. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with using both and either streaming to both simultaneously (for which you’ll need two phones/a phone and a tablet) or just alternating for a while to see where you pick up the most traction.
How To Get Started on Periscope
Step 1 – Downloading and Installing
To get started with Periscope, the first thing you need to do is to download the app. This can be found either in the App Store or in the Google Play Store and either way it should install quickly and easily in a couple of minutes.
From there, you will then be given the option of signing in with your Twitter account or with a phone number. It’s worth using your Twitter account as this will give you some initial people to view and can help you to reach a wider audience – your followers will become your followers on Periscope and you’ll be able to view the people you are following for inspiration and ideas.
Step 2 – Finding Your Way Around
Now you’re in, you’ll be taken to a map of the world. Here you can see where the various streams or scopes are coming from. Zoom in to specific regions to see more precise geography and then tap on the numbers in order to see the individual broadcasters with a brief description of what they’re doing.
You can then tap on that name in order to join the stream and you can easily comment on their videos by typing in the ‘say something’ box.
Some other features include the ability to share the broadcast or to like it.
Another way to find more content is to tap the icons along the top of the app. Here you’ll be able to find a feed showing content produced by people you’re following, or content produced by people you’re following. You’ll also be able to see the recent content they’ve uploaded.
It’s also possible to find content by ‘featured’ users. It’s worth spending some time looking around and finding content added by other users, as this will help you to understand how users are likely to find your content and what type of content is likely to be popular.
You can also swap the view by hitting the icon in the top right, this will show the feeds more like a traditional homefeed, with regularly updating images and text, alongside information about the number of viewers etc.
Step 3 – Streaming Videos
To start streaming, you simply need to tap the icon that looks like a camera. This will then enable you to start your broadcast. You might need to enable a few features on your phone:
You can choose whether you want this to be private or public.
Of course if you’re creating your video footage then you want to make sure that the content is ‘public’ so that people can easily find it.
And from there, you simply point and shoot your video as you would normally. Aim with your camera and type on the screen as you normally would to respond to comments. The only other two controls are the ability to stop video (slide down then hit stop) or to flip to the front facing camera (double tap).
How To Get Started On Meerkat
Step 1 – Installation
Getting started with Meerkat is just as simple and straightforward as getting started with Periscope.
Just find it in the Play Store or App Store and download and install.
It will be installed on your phone in seconds.
From here, you then choose to ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Log In’. As this is going to be your first time setting up, you’ll want the former option.
As Meerkat is no longer affiliated with Twitter, you’ll need to enter your mobile number to sign up. You’ll then receive a text and you need to enter the confirmation code into the next page.
Next, you’ll have the option to start following some of the most popular content creators which will include a number of big marketers like Tai Lopez and a few celebrities. You can also connect with Facebook or with Twitter in order to find and start following people you know.
Next up, you need to add your full name, username and a photo. This is all handled on one page and is yet again a matter of tapping a few options.
Step 2 – Finding Your Way Around
Finding your way around on Meerkat is simple, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because it’s intuitive and you’re not going to get lost or confused here. It’s bad because the reason it’s so easy to get around, is just that there’s so little here. You’ll find yourself on a home feed as soon as you’re logged in and that’s… it.
At the top of the feed will be content from the people you’re following, if you scroll down a bit further you’ll see more content and if you head down further than that you’ll see the scheduled content.
You can search for specific users by hitting the search icon in the top right, but there’s no way to search based on the content or to browse videos as anything other than a list.
In the far right next to the search icon is a badge which lets you see ‘leaderboards’ of the most successful users. Hit your profile in the top left and you can edit the settings.
Step 3 – Streaming
Streaming could not be faster on Meerkat. As soon as you’ve logged in, one of the top options on the page will be to ‘Stream’.
Hit this box and your camera begins to film instantly.
You then have a few options – such as the ability to choose to show a photo from your gallery on your device. This is a very useful feature because it lets you show images while you’re talking that can be used to illustrate your point like a slideshow. Similarly, you can turn on and off the camera, or you can flip the camera around to use the front-facing view.
Before hitting stream though, you first should enter something in the ‘what’s happening’ box so that people can get some context and decide whether or not they want to watch. Alternatively, you can then hit the ‘schedule’ box and then pick a time and a photo.
How To Get Started On Blab
Step 1 – Setting Up
To get started on Blab, you simply need to sign up with the app or the desktop program. If you’re on Android though, then you’re going to find one of the biggest limitations of Blab – and that’s that there’s no app in the Play Store yet.
Or actually there is a Blab app, but it’s not Blab.im – rather it’s a completely different ‘anonymous social network’ for sharing your innermost feelings. This could create something of a branding issue for Blab.IM in the future.
Desktop version: Click the Sign up with Twitter button to sign up
Luckily, there is an option to get set up with Blab even if you don’t happen to own an iPhone or iPad. You’ll simply need to get set up via the website instead, which has largely the same functionality through the browser. You’ll find this at http://www.Blab.im
App Store: Search for ‘Blab’ and download
Either way, you will again sign up through your Twitter account but it doesn’t have the same social elements as the other two. In other words, you can’t find a list of content from people that you follow, though remember this is very much in beta.
You’ve probably noticed at this point that Blab is quite different from the other two platforms.
Step 2 – Finding Your Way Around
You’ll land straight on the main feed showing your ‘On Air’ videos with ‘all tags’ by default. Here you’ll see a bunch of conversations with titles and images of the participants (which could be one to four people).
If you would like to see more specific content meanwhile, you can search by looking at the ‘replays’ or by narrowing down by tags on the left hand side. You can also see ‘scheduled’ videos by looking at the tabs along the top, similar to Meerkat.
To view a video, you simply click on that video and you’ll be entered into the live stream. Here you can get involved by posting comments, by asking questions, by sharing the video to social media or by clicking to ‘call in’. This way, you become a host (if you’re accepted) and you can join in the conversation.
Blab feels very interactive and really quite forward thinking. It’s a strange moment when you start viewing a stream and someone greets you by name and invites you to join the discussion, but it’s also exciting and has some clear marketing potential again.
Note that these videos very much look like video conferences. Whereas Periscope and Meerkat are full-screened immersive, Blab splits it’s conversations so that you can see each speaker individually. Even when you’re the only person speaking, there’s the ‘Call In’ option ever present.
In other words then, this is very much used for talking to your viewers and isn’t as well suited to, for instance, streaming a concert.
Step 3 – Streaming Videos
To start streaming, simply click ‘Start a New Blab’ in the top right. From here, you’ll be presented with a number of options including tags, the subject of your blab and when you want to go live.
Starting a Blab on your desktop
Starting a Blab via the Blab App
Tags work a little differently here than on YouTube or Twitter. You only get to choose from a limited selection which will be used as categories. People can then choose to bring up certain types of content (‘Business’ or ‘Cooking’ for instance) but they won’t search by hashtags as they might through other forms of social media.
Like Meerkat, you also have the option here to ‘schedule’ a video, which will then show up in the ‘scheduled’ tab. This then allows people to pen in the date in order to come back to see your content and it promotes your channel. What’s more, it means that there’s more of your content out there for people to find which means they’ll be interacting with your brand that much more.
Preparing For Your First Live Broadcast – Presentation And Equipment
Now you have a good idea of what live video streaming is, you know the three big platforms that are available and you know how to get set up with each of them.
The next question is what you’re going to do with this!
When you first head onto Blab or Meerkat, you’ll likely find that it’s actually quite scary to hit that ‘record’ button. As soon as you do this, you have a live feed of whatever you’re doing, going out to the entire world. This can feel very strange and you might find yourself feeling somewhat ‘on the spot’ as you try and think of the kind of content you can make.
This is live too, so any mistakes you make, any fumbles you make, are going to go out live as well. Oh and people can comment on those mistakes in real time. Great!
This is super daunting, so if you’ve ever been camera shy before, expect to feel that pressure a lot more strongly now. The good news though, is that unlike YouTube, the audience you’ll be going out to are going to be very supportive and friendly. As we discussed earlier, this is still an exciting platform and still a new one and there’s a real sense of camaraderie that has been lost on YouTube (which is famous for its mean comments sections).
Note too that people aren’t expecting world class quality with the very highest production values. A lot of what’s on Periscope in particular consists of people lying on the couch staring at the camera, or just walking down the street. This is hardly Spielberg! So don’t worry if you struggle to come up with ideas or if your footage looks a little rough around the edges – it’s part of the charm.
That said, you still probably want make your content as good as it can be. Before you jump in then, you can do a little prep work first…
Preparing for Your First Video
A great idea before you start is to spend some time on these platforms looking at how other people operate. Try to get a feel for the way that the most popular uses present themselves and the kinds of content they create. If you emulate them, then you will likely enjoy a similar amount of success.
Better yet, try to spend some time on Blab. As mentioned, anyone can join in with a Blab at any point (as long as they’re accepted) and if you do this then it provides a great way for you to experience going live without having all the pressure on your shoulders. Log in to a topic that you understand, accept the invitation and then engage in a conversation. In doing so, you’ll be able to practice how best to present yourself and how to speak in a relatively low-pressure situation. The person who started the Blab will be the host and thus it won’t be your responsibility as such to ensure that everyone is entertained.
Some general pointers for going in front of the camera though are to:
- Speak slowly – Most of us speed up when we’re nervous without realizing it. Speaking slowly makes you sound smarter and more confident and it prevents stuttering. If you do make mistake though, then just laugh it off. The worst thing you can do is to appear thrown off or upset by your own mistake – that just draws attention to it.
- Try to be natural – Want a sip of coffee? Take one! People are going to enjoy getting some insight into your life and feeling like they’re joining you for your morning coffee. It doesn’t have to be super slick.
- Think about what you’re wearing – You do want to make a good impression though. If you’re a marketer then that means that you’re ultimately going to be selling to this audience and that means you need to build trust and authority. Spend a couple of minutes looking at your hair and your clothes.
- Positioning – Try not to hold the camera too low down. This can give you a double chin and it means everyone will be looking up your nostrils. Likewise, think about what’s in the background and make sure that it doesn’t look like a tornado hit your house. If you’re vlogging about business or marketing then you want to look successful – so film from your office or even from a nearby coffee shop.
- Camera – It’s also a good idea to get a high quality camera phone if possible. This doesn’t mean you’re going to need 42 megapixels but if your footage is too blurry and pixelated that can be off-putting for your viewers. Note too that a large proportion of your footage will likely be filmed using the selfie camera so make sure that you invest in a device with a good one of those. Some phones even have a rotating camera that lets you use the high fidelity camera for selfies.
- Webcam – Alternatively, if you’re on Blab, then you should think about your webcam. Make sure that it has a high quality sensory and a high quality mic so that the voice quality comes through well.
- Sound – Sound in general is something that is often too easy to get wrong. If you’re filming near a busy road then you shouldn’t expect the quality to be great. Instead then, look for a quiet spot and make sure you’re speaking into the mic.
- WiFi – Finally, make sure you have a stable connection. No one enjoys watching feeds of videos that are constantly going black!
What Kind of Content Should You Create?
Now onto the big question: knowing what type of content to create.
There are a few different options here, so let’s take a dive into a few…
Tips, Advice and Discussion
The problem here is that you don’t want your video to come across as too staged or rehearsed. You’re likely not going to deliver your content perfectly the very first time and you won’t want to remember a subject for too long either.
That then means that it can be a good idea to discuss a topic more broadly and this then allows you to invite your viewers to get involved too. Ask your viewers if they have any questions and speak confidently on the matter. Don’t be afraid of silence either.
If you’re worried that your videos will be mostly silence this way though, then you can choose a topic that will naturally have some of its own structure. A great example of this is a review: if you review a product then you have a single and central item to talk about and that in turn means that you’ll be able to keep up your monologue without running out of ideas. This is also yet again a great opportunity for people to ask for you to demonstrate things about it and the result will be a more comprehensive and useful video than you otherwise could have created on your own.
A product unboxing is also a very good idea. This is something that lends itself to being live, especially if you have an exclusive or you’re one of the first to get your hands on that product.
Likewise, you can structure your video loosely with a few tips. For instance, an obvious subject for a productivity video might be ‘5 Ways to Get More Done’. You can then talk to your audience as though it were a podcast while again letting people chip in with points that might steer the topic of conversation. You’ll always have that list to come back to though and this will ensure you’re never at a loss for words.
On the other hand, if you do want to make your footage more planned and professional then you can simply set it up as a presentation. You can even use props such as a slide or a whiteboard and this way it might look just like a presentation you would give at a conference or like a university lecture. Again, the key difference will be that people can ask questions.
Of course you can always make the discussion into the main selling point of the video.
For instance, you can stage an interview with someone in your niche and that will be perfect for Blab. This way, people will be able to chime in with their own questions and again that can add to the quality of the interview.
Likewise, you can set up an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and let your audience quiz you with whatever they would like to know. If you have a big and dedicated audience who view you as an authority in your niche then this can be very successful and a great opportunity for people to learn more about you and your brand.
You can also have much more relaxed conversations and let people come and go as they please. This could be a ‘brainstorm’ or just a chinwag and either way it can feel very exciting. If you’ve ever been a part of a creatively charged brainstorm then you will no doubt see the appeal of joining in with a global version of that.
Visual, Events and Interactive Content
But so far we’ve not seen anything that you couldn’t really create (to some extent) through other platforms. An AMA or discussion can be accomplished through Reddit or through Google Hangouts, whereas an informational video really won’t be that different to what people are used to seeing on YouTube.
Giving someone an insider view of a live event though is something completely new and highly exciting that can help you to really gain a lot of new followers. Going somewhere really interesting? Put it on Periscope! Launching a new product? Make sure there are lots of feeds for people to follow so they can learn more about what you’re doing.
Or how about giving someone a tour of your office? Or a ‘day in your life’ at work? Or a view of your manufacturing process?
Things like this are innately promotional and at the same time, they take full advantage of the nature of the platform to deliver an entirely new type of content that couldn’t be delivered in any other way.
Another new type of content is ‘passive’ content. This might mean just having a Periscope or Meerkat set up to keep track of your daily activities or something specific. Here you don’t necessarily have to talk to your audience but rather just give them an insight into your life. This has the same appeal as watching something like ‘Big Brother’.
Doing a workout? This is great content in itself. Some people will enjoy to watch it for inspiration, others will enjoy to learn from it. Having a conversation with your friends over some drinks? Let some strangers be a fly on the wall and feel almost as though they’re taking part. It’s hilarious watching people have drunken conversations and this way people who perhaps are a little lonely can feel almost as though they are vicariously enjoying your company.
You can even set up a camera to show a view. A busy street or perhaps just a view of the beech can be relaxing and it can be exciting.
Tips for Making Better Videos, More Quickly
If you want to grow your audience then you need to get the hang of the platform and how to make the kind of content that really succeeds here. At the same time though, if you want to make this a useful business tool, then you’ll need to look at how it can fit into your business model without taking up a large amount of time.
Here are some general tips for your live streaming activities that will help you to create better content more quickly.
Engage Your Audience
One very big tip is to take advantage of the platform. This should be almost a two way conversation and if you’re just talking ‘at’ your audience, then it may as well not be live. Instead, make sure that when someone comments, you say something back. Likewise, when someone joins your feed, greet them by name and thank them for stopping by. This is a very strange feeling the first couple of times it happens but it’s also something that we can’t help but be impressed and moved by. As a result, people are going to be more likely to stick around and see what you have to say and they’ll enjoy your content more.
Stick to One Topic
There are a fair number of videos out there that consist of people lying about in their pyjamas or talking about ‘whatever is on their mind’. Right now, this is enough to be successful seeing as the platform is still very new. At the moment, people will watch anything!
But if you want to be successful and if you want to build a big audience then you need to make sure that you have a very clear USP and that you’re delivering quality content that is relevant to your niche all the time. This way, your audience won’t feel like they’re wasting their time and they’ll know that following you means more content like that. This is essentially what building a brand is all about – setting a precedent that people know you are likely to follow.
Doing More With Your Footage
The more time you spend on these platforms, the more followers you’ll get. As we mentioned already, the platforms are so new that right now simply posting anything will get you new followers.
This means that if you stream more footage, you get more followers as you create more opportunities for people to discover what you’re doing. But that means investing more time and if you’re running a big business then you might not have so much time to spend filming yourself talk over cereal.
So what do you do?
The answer is to find ways to do more with your footage.
For instance, if you set up two lots of cameras then you can easily stream one version of the content and then edit a better quality version of the same thing to upload to YouTube. This way you’ll also be creating some cross pollination as you can promote yourself on both platforms. Likewise, you can set up a tablet and a phone at once and stream to two or more streaming sites.
Or how about creating a podcast at the same time with the audio from your video? Doing any of these things will help you get more out of the content you’ve created which means you’ll be getting a better ROI for the time you’ve put in.
Use Passive Content
Another way to reduce the amount of time you’re putting into live video streaming is to make more of the passive-type content that we discussed earlier. As you’ve likely already realized, this is a very ‘hands off’ way to create content as it means you can simply set up a camera to record you while you go about your usual workout, your normal job or anything else. People can just watch as you do this and you’ll be turning a regular activity into an opportunity to promote your brand.
Remember though: stay on topic and avoid selling out. If you have a brand of productivity software then it’s incongruent to upload lots of videos of you just eating your cereal. People are so voyeuristic that they’d watch it and they’d add you, but these aren’t targeted followers who you will likely sell to and they won’t have any interest in the main topic of your brand. Be a little discerning with what you record still!
If you’re still unsure as to whether live video streaming has a decent ROI for your business, then bear in mind that you can also directly sell through your videos. You don’t only have to use this as a way to build brand visibility – you can just as easily encourage people to buy directly through your videos. And in fact this can be a very effective strategy if you show off the product or service, explain it and ask people to ask any questions if they have them. This is almost like combining your marketing activities with your direct sales activities as you can sell to the people who discuss the subject with you in person.
Stay Up Late
Something to keep in mind when creating content for video streaming is that it is global. You only have to sign into Periscope and see the map to be reminded of this.
What that means is that if you’re streaming something live then there’s a good chance that half the world and half your audience are going to miss out on that content. This is an even bigger issue on Meerkat where there’s no option to watch old content.
If you’re based in the US then this is not too likely to be a big issue. However, if you’re based in the UK and you want to get word out to people in the US (one of the bigger markets for English speakers) then you need to avoid recording in the early afternoon when half the country will be sleeping. Even the time zones within the US can be a problem.
Do your research then and keep an eye on where your viewers are based and at what times your videos are getting the most views. Then again, if you film during hours when there’s not much content, this can be a good way to get viewers from a specific region. Note as well that Periscope in particular seems to be quite big in Eastern Europe.
Choose the Right Titles and Tags
Using the right titles can make a big difference for your videos when it comes to getting more followers. At the moment, all we see when we look at a feed is an image (a still from the video) and the title. If the title isn’t descriptive then people aren’t going to know what your video is about and they won’t have any reason to watch. Make sure that your titles are descriptive and compelling. Ask yourself: would you watch this if you saw the title on YouTube? Does it at the same time sell the virtues of being a live stream?
Likewise, make sure that you choose the right tags on Blab where they will be used to categorize and filter your content.
How To Start Getting Followers And Viewers
Now you’re starting to create some great content you should find that you gradually begin to amass a following right away.
But there’s more you can do to further grow that following and to make your video streaming into another fantastic asset for your digital marketing empire. Here we’ll look at some things you can do to make that work…
Synergistic Marketing Efforts
If you’re already interested in marketing your business online, then most likely you already have a number of different platforms that allow you to reach a large audience. These likely consist of a mailing list, several social media channels, a website with lots of viewers and maybe some subscribers on YouTube.
If that’s the case then this should be your first port of call for promoting your live video streaming. Just make sure that you tell as many of your fans as possible that you’re on those platforms and that you inform them when you’re about to go live.
E-mail marketing is particularly effective when used in conjunction with streaming and especially if you are going to launch a new product.
When messaging your mailing list, you will likely know how to go about building anticipation for a product and then eventually launching it. Here you will probably use the ‘AIDA’ structure of ‘Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action’ all built up over the course of four e-mails.
Part of the reason this works so well, is that it forces your audience to wait for something that they will be interested in buying. People automatically want what they can’t have so the very fact that you’re making them wait for that last e-mail will help to increase their desire for the product and will encourage more sales.
And you can help to build that buzz up to fever pitch by making the launch ‘live’ on Periscope. This way, people will feel like they’re ‘part’ of something bigger and you can create a much more exciting and interactive launch for your product.
Likewise, post to Facebook when you’re going to be going live and tell your YouTube subscribers that you upload live content to Periscope.
Twitter is very important no matter which of these platforms you choose to use. While Periscope is the official live streaming app for Twitter (seeing as they own it), both of the other platforms also integrate with Twitter and this makes it an ideal tool for promoting your channels. At the same time, Twitter is a very fast way to update your audience quickly, so you can let them know as your videos are going out.
Note that the more you build your followers on Twitter, the more followers you’ll automatically gain for your live streaming. And the same goes for Facebook with Meerkat too. If people follow you on these platforms, then they’ll be given your channel as a suggested one to follow then they sign up. Continue to build your followers as you normally would and when you tweet about a live feed, make sure that you use the right hashtag so that people can find it easily. At the same time then, make sure that the topics of your videos lend themselves naturally to tags that will be searched for. Make videos discussing trending topics and current events.
Another tip is to post regularly – and not just regularly but also consistently.
If you’re doing a launch event or a concert then of course this doesn’t apply but if you’re uploading more ‘vlog’ like content then you’re going to be trying to gain a regular audience. A perfect situation would be that you could become a part of people’s routine so that they watch your videos while they get ready in the morning, or while they’re cooking.
To encourage this, try to post your videos at a set time of day and let your viewers know that this is the case. At the very least, ensure that you don’t go months and months without uploading anything new or you’ll lose any momentum that you’ve managed to build up.
Scheduling posts is also a good idea. This way people can know exactly when to expect your next video and they’ll hopefully find themselves looking forward to it in the lead up.
Interact With Others
One of the big ‘secrets’ to succeeding on any form of social media is to make sure that you’re giving back to the community and actively taking part. That means that you shouldn’t only be creating content but also commenting on the content that other users create. Likewise, you should make sure that you’re building genuine relationships and that you’re adding to conversations.
This means you should follow other users, that you should take part in their Blabs and that you should share their content to Twitter and Facebook. By doing this, you’ll be able to draw attention to yourself in a very positive light and this will normally lead to a reciprocal add or share. Especially right now, while the tools are so new, simply adding friends on these platforms is a great way to get more followers back. The power of reciprocity should not be understated!
The Future of Live Streaming Video
The Future is Bright
We’ve already discussed all the amazing possibilities that live streaming offers and we’ve seen how its growth is almost inevitable. Some speculators have shown concern that Meerkat and other platforms aren’t growing as quickly as they were initially thought to, but the reality is that they’ve gotten off to an incredible start and that they’re almost bound to grow more as more people learn about them and as there’s more of a marketing push.
As we already mentioned: when there’s a huge event that is streamed live through Periscope or Meerkat that’s bound to draw in a mass user base. Likewise, when more and more marketers start using Blab to promote their blogs and their digital products, they’ll be simultaneously promoting those platforms themselves leading to more growth.
But the biggest impact is going to be the technology that will drive this forward even faster. More visual fidelity in videos for instance is going to have a big impact as the quality of the streams is increased drastically. Likewise, we can expect internet connections to continue getting faster and faster. Imagine being able to see the footage live in the thumbnail before choosing which video you wanted to watch? Imagine being able to watch multiple feeds of the same event simultaneously!
It’s a shame that Google Glass didn’t take off because it would have been the perfect piece of hardware to compliment this software. It’s only a matter of time before some kind of augmented reality device takes center stage though, at which point we’ll have more and more ways to create live feeds almost directly from our retinas.
And as the number of users grow, so too will the features and the tools that these platforms offer. Remember, all three of the big streaming apps are less than three months old! In the future we can expect to see hashtags, more easily searchable content and lots more. It’s likely that all of the platforms will eventually allow us to store our videos and possibly even to download them (making it much easier to upload them directly to YouTube, for instance). We can also expect more platforms to emerge and the ‘sleeping giant’ YouTube to awake eventually.
Challenges That Live Video Streaming Will Face Going Forward (And How to Avoid Getting Into Trouble)
Of course it won’t all be smooth sailing though and we can expect to face a couple of hiccups along the way. Being aware of these is important as a content creator.
The first thing you should keep in mind is the legal side. Many people have already commented that there’s something somewhat Orwellian about the idea of having multiple cameras filming everything we do at all times (and they’re not wrong!). Likewise, we could see issues with people streaming copyright content like videos and music.
Make sure you’re not doing this and if you are recording other people, the law (generally) is that you need their permission unless they’re in a public place where they could ‘expect to be seen by other strangers’. You should check how the law relates in your specific country though.
We’re also likely to see some growing pains with these platforms as they gain more popularity. We’ve already seen Meerkat change its name three times and the lack of an Android Blab app is also a problem. It won’t be that long until one of these platforms wants to find ways to start monetizing too (which might actually create some new opportunities for product creators). As more users come on board, it will be harder to get discovered too.
All this is just more reason to get a head start and to strike now while the iron is hot!
Summary & Recap
While there will likely be a few pit-stops along the way, the take-home from all this is that video streaming is already massive and it’s only going to get bigger. This is a very exciting opportunity to get involved with a marketing platform that quite simply didn’t exist this time a year ago. What’s more, it’s an incredibly exciting sign of things to come and of the way that our world is getting smaller.
If you’re an internet marketer and you want to stay one step ahead while reaching a huge new audience, you need to get involved.
Let’s recap on how you might do that…
Your Live Video Streaming Strategy
Step 1 – Research
Before you dive in, it’s worth doing a little research and a little prep. Compare the big three platforms (Periscope, Meerkat and Blab) and try them out in person to see what they have to offer and to learn the kinds of content being shared. Once you have identified the ones that work best for you, then you can invest your time in those ones specifically. Keep in mind that you can be on more than one platform at once.
Try getting involved in some conversations in Blab too – it’s a great way to learn the ropes and build some confidence!
Step 2 – Set Up
Follow the instructions in chapters 3, 4 and 5 to get set up with your favorite platforms. Normally this is a simply matter of installing the app.
Step 3 – Decide What Content You’re Going to Create
Now decide what kind of content you want to create. Remember: it should be consistent, it should be based strongly in your niche and it should take advantage of the unique aspects of the platform. If you want to maximize your ROI, then you should consider making passive content by filming regular activities, or you should try creating videos that you use across multiple platforms.
Step 4 – Create Your Videos
Hit ‘record’ and start filming! Make sure to engage your audience and to make them feel involved, to talk slowly and to think about the set up in terms of lighting, camera angle and backdrop. Give your video a good title.
You’ll find that every time you create new videos, you get new subscribers!
Step 5 – Promote Through Social Media
Make sure you tell your e-mail subscribers and your social media followers about your streaming activities. This can drive a lot more people to the channel. You can also promote videos that are going live on Twitter and make sure to use the right hashtags!
Twitter in particular has close ties with all three platforms, so make sure you build your following there and the two will cross pollinate!
Now just keep creating engaging content and keep taking part in the community. In no time at all you’ll be growing a massive audience who you have unprecedented direct access to and communication with.
This is an incredible tool that’s only going to get more valuable. So get involved, have fun and good luck!