How Blab Can Impact Healthcare
Could there be a sillier name than “Blab” for a professional social network? Well, if we can get used to Twitter, SnapChat and Pinterest, we can get used to Blab.
Blab – the live video conversation platform (and Google Hangouts killer) is about to celebrate its first anniversary. Launched in April 2015, it didn't take long to be enthusiastically embraced by the marketing and social media community. Even with beta launch technical blips the platform is so accessible, intuitive and easy to use that it has captured a large audience who will sometimes Blab for hours on end. What is this platform, and how can it be used to further healthcare messages? Let’s take a look.
How Blab Works
Blab is a free platform open to anyone with a Twitter handle. Not owned by Twitter (yet), it ties notifications to Twitter and requires a Twitter account to participate in a Blab session. If you don’t have a Twitter handle you can view any Blab - live or replay - however, you cannot engage in the chat or join a Blab on-air. If you have a Twitter handle you can log in to blab.im and be presented with a variety of Blab sessions that are currently live. You may search for an archived Blab or one scheduled in the future. By “subscribing” to the Blab you’ll receive notifications (if you choose) when the Blab is beginning.
Much like Twitter, you can follow profiles in Blab so you’ll be notified if someone you follow is live. Inside the live Blab there is a running chat on the right side of the screen that the live host and guests can respond to or ignore. If the host is recording the session, the chat roll is captured as well. To ask a question, type “/q” before your question and it will pop out in a featured box for questions. (Blab is ever-evolving so some of these detail may change in the future.)
As the Host you can schedule a Blab for a future date and time or start one immediately. Blab has a built in tool to post via Twitter, Facebook or embed. The Host can designate other guests to be Hosts as well (helpful if the Host suddenly drops out due to internet issues). The Host also has the ability to Open or Lock seats to limit requests to join the Blab and can kick out anyone in the live Blab or chat. I saw this happen during a chat about misogyny in LinkedIn and was grateful the host gave the Troll the boot.
As a Guest there are a few things you can do to ensure the quality of the Blab.
- Be in a quiet space. Airports, coffee shops or conference hallways push out a lot of noise that you may not notice as the guest but your microphone will pick up. If you have to be in such a place, use the mute button on the Blab when you’re not speaking.
- Have headphones. Even earbuds with a microphone can greatly improve the quality of the Blab sound. Many podcasters have started to use Blab to record interviews and re-purpose the audio into a podcast. Therefore, microphone quality is an important consideration for all Blab hosts and guests.
- Don’t hog the seat. One of the best aspects of a Blab is the ability to cycle guests in and out. If you have asked a question or finished a thought, or you’ve been hanging around without much to contribute on a topic, bail and give the seat up to someone else.
- Have a strong WiFi signal. If possible, get a hard wire connection. Blab can be a little tricky if your internet connection isn’t strong.
- NEVER Blab and DRIVE! I can’t believe I need to mention this but I’ve seen it and left a Blab or two for fear I would witness something horrible.
How do Blab and Healthcare Mix?
I have committed to hosting a weekly Blab on Mondays at noon EST with two other Healthcare Podcasters (@Resultant and @JaredPiano) because I feel that Blab can be an amazing resource for sharing ideas. Several other healthcare podcasters and communicators have also committed to the Blab platform and found it’s a great opportunity to bring a wide variety of voices to the conversation. As a professional-to-professional platform, Blab enables rich, real-time conversations perfect for covering timely news and discussions.
As anyone with a Twitter handle can join a Blab chat, there are and have been ePatients present in many of the healthcare Blabs I have hosted or watched. While a few healthcare providers may have a concern over HIPAA or requests to deliver medical advice in the event a patient asked a question, it’s the same as any other social media platform. If you’re hosting a health condition specific Blab, I would recommend having a link to the Social Media Policy and Rules of Engagement for the Blab and post it in the Blab. Then moderate as you would a TweetChat.
Warning! Blab is addictive! Once you get a chance to meet and have a live conversation with colleagues and thought leaders you have followed, you’ll be hooked.
Janet Kennedy, a member of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, is a 20-year marketing and social media professional and is the Host of the “Get Social Health” podcast sharing best practice stories and interviews about social media in healthcare. She is the founder of the Get Social Health Academy, a coaching and eLearning consultancy producing online courses for Healthcare Associations, Medical Societies, and private practices. To catch Janet's Blab activity, follow her on Twitter @GetSocialHealth and search the hashtag #healthcare in Blab. See previously recorded Blabs.
Editor's Note: Janet and Mike Sevilla, M.D. will participate in Mayo Clinic's first Blab on Thursday, March 31, from 2-3 p.m. CDT. It's our March #MCSMN Webinar, and it's your chance to experience Blab firsthand. Sign up to get reminders as the broadcast approaches.