Should Your Brand Be Blabbing?

Why Blab Is the Hot New App for Marketers

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Periscope and Meerkat are old hat. Yes, already.

The new kid on the block is Blab.im -- an app providing real-time, streaming-video conversations for up to four people at a time. The audience watches, can comment within the Blab and on Twitter, and can switch places with the original chatters.

How should brands be thinking about Blab? Is it just a flash in the pan? Or a sea change in communications?

What Blab is

Blab's new, easy, fun, free, completely interactive and on 24/7. Its creators -- from Chief Tecnology Officer Furqan Rydhan to Community Manager Brittany Metz -- are there (they don't seem to sleep) and they update features in real time. And, oh yes, the immediacy of Blab is addicting.

Here's the step-by-step guide to using Blab, which is essentially plug and play.

Right now, the average time being spent on Blabs, according to its CEO, Shaan Puri, is 64 minutes -- making it a close competitor to TV and Netflix. That is mind-boggling, given our short and fractured attention span, which is said to lag behind that of a goldfish.

Among those who drop into Blabs are Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag from "The Hills," Al Jazeera, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and people from all walks of life who sometimes end up getting on airplanes to meet in real life.

Blab is social-media city. There's already a Blabaholics group on Facebook, and a Blab Rehab Show for addicts. And here's a collection of tweets from fans who love Blab.

Where did Blab come from?

Blab has a bit of a complicated heritage. It was incubated at Monkey Inferno, a San Francisco-based incubator which has since been dissolved. Blab's co-founder and main investor is Michael Birch, who created Bebo, a messaging app that was sold to AOL in 2008 for $850 million.

Birch bought Bebo in 2013 for $1 billion and created Monkey Inferno with the same team that built Bebo, including CEO Shaan Puri. Blab spun off as its own company in January 2015, with Birch as its main investor and Puri as CEO. "That kind of financial security means we're a fast-paced but low-stress workplace," says Puri. "When we saw the way Blab was taking off, and saw the potential of the project, we doubled down to focus entirely on Blab," he explains. The beta of Blab launched in April.

What's Blab's business model?

None, so far. The goal, says Puri, is to build the audience to the point where it becomes possible to make money. Brands, he says, are usually late to the party. When they see that you have people's attention, they take a closer look.

There is, without a doubt, a bit of mania on the platform. But many think that frenzy is just beginning.

"We just make the tool," Puri says. "The people make the products."

Frankly, I think brands that jump into Blab in these early days will be rewarded with the attention of audiences they cannot reach on other platforms. The key is creating content with authenticity and value. Blab is no place for PR-speak.

How can brands use Blab?

There already are Blab shows with substantial audiences about everything from cooking to legal advice. Brands should care because Blab is growing at breakneck speed, with top Blabs attracting thousands of viewers.

Brands should consider Blab for:

  • Holding town halls with executives taking questions from the community
  • Running contests
  • Holding career days for students to ask questions about working for the company
  • Featuring talks by your experts
  • Sponsoring live events
  • Launching and "unboxing" new products
  • Demonstrating support for charities -- already money has been raised for clean water and NoKidHungry
  • Conducting product training sessions
  • Doing live reporting from conferences and shows
  • Creating blog posts, pins, Instagram photos, tweets, video trailers and graphics from points made in Blabs

What's the bottom line on Blab?

In the end, Blab's eventual success is going to be about good guests, good topics and shorter segments. And those are the very things that create opportunities for brands.

If your brand isn't Blabbing, it should consider jumping in.