PLEASE NOTE: SINCE LORNA SIXSMITH WROTE THIS HELPFUL ARTICLE, THE BLAB SERVICE HAS UNFORTUNATELY BEEN CLOSED DOWN. (We're just leaving this article up because we don't want you to have the frustration of following a dead link to it and getting a “Page not found” message!)
Social media coach and successful Irish indie author Lorna Sixsmith gives the lowdown on one of the newer kids on the social media networking block: Blab.
What is Blab Anyway?
- A Blab is a place where you can watch and join in with live discussions and conversations on various topics.
- As it is also an app, you can do so from an iPad or iPhone (not available on Android quite yet) or your computer.
How It Works
Two to four people can be in conversation at any one time, and all are visible to viewers. There is always one host and sometimes two. One will be hosting the discussion, and the other might be answering written questions by typing responses, bringing some to the attention of the other host and admitting new people to the group. Viewers can apply to be let in to chat. If you wish to chat within a Blab, you will need headphones and a strong internet connection.
Numerous people can view the blab and interact by typing questions or comments (as seen on the right of the screenshot). They can also interact by showing their approval and clicking on the two little hands in the right hand corner of the relevant speaker. The number of viewers and their avatars are displayed at the top of the screen.
Viewers can also share the Blab on Twitter and Facebook. A summary, link and a gif image of the speakers are shared. If you have subscribed to a Blab and missed it, don’t worry, you’ll receive an automatic email with a link to the replay.
As Blab and Twitter are integrated, you log in with your Twitter account. Like other platforms, you can follow others and they can follow you. If you wish to host a Blab, schedule it and share the link to draw an audience to subscribe. People don’t have to be following you to watch the Blab. You can also search for relevant Blabs by searching for an appropriate term in the search box e.g. writing.
How Authors Can Use Blab
- Learn from other authors by joining Blabs on writing and publishing topics. You can search for them by using a search term. If you follow other authors, you can receive notification when they schedule any Blabs too.
- Network with other authors by getting involved in Blabs, commenting or taking part in the discussion. Topics could include how to self-publish, tips for editing, how to make your front covers stand out, getting an agent, increasing sales, marketing tips or increasing your reach.
- Find readers interested in your books (and let them find you) by hosting or getting involved in Blabs about your chosen subjects be they cats, historical fiction, parenting or cooking. You can be viewed as an expert in your field by focusing on relevant topics.
- Host an interview-style Blab for authors within your genre to attract readers.
Tips For Using Blab
- If you wish to chat on the Blab, check what is behind you as your viewers will be able to see it. Writers might like to sit in front of their bookshelves.
- Ensure that background noise is kept to a minimum and that you won’t be disturbed by barking dogs or shouting children.
- You’ll need a strong internet connection.
- If using a smartphone or tablet app, prop it up so it is steady and viewers can see you properly.
- If you wish to show a copy of your book, you’ll notice that it displays a mirror image!
Why People Seem To Prefer Blabs to Google Hangouts
- They receive notifications of Blabs they might be interested in or spot them on Twitter. It’s also easy to find them within the search facility.
- It’s very easy to drop in and out, commenting if they wish.
- They don’t have to be connected to those involved in the Blab.
I was involved in my second Blab discussion recently. The organisers hosted Blab discussions for seven hours, and my interview was about independent publishing. I love social media, but I baulk at being in front of the camera. I’ve a long way to go to perfect my techniques but practice makes perfect, I hope I’ll get there eventually!
You can view a video of Lorna's blab here:
OVER TO YOU
Have you tried Blab? What do you think of it? Have you any tips to add? Any cautionary tales?We'd love to hear them!