Adding contacts to your TokBox contact list

One of the questions we often get from existing TokBox-ers is “How do I add contacts to my TokBox contact list?”, so I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the basics here.  In short, there are two ways you can add contacts 1) one at a time 2) entire contact lists.

Starting with adding individuals one at a time, here are the steps.

If you are looking for an existing TokBox user, enter their name or email address in our search box.  Once you have your results, you can add them as a contact.

If they are not a TokBox user, then you can click on “Add account” at the bottom of the contact list and choose “Add contact”.  Enter their email address and they will be invited to join TokBox.  Once they do, they will appear in your contact list.

Next, if you would like to add an entire contact list, you can add lists from Gmail/Gtalk, Yahoo, AIM or MSN Messenger.

Simply click on “Add” at the bottom of your contact list and choose “Add account”.  You will be asked to enter your user name and password for the account you are adding.  Once you do that, all the contacts from that account will appear in your contact list.  You will then be able to see when they are on or offline and be able to easily call them or send them an instant message.


We hope this helps and as always, feel free to send us an email at help@tokbox.com if we can give you any other pointers.

Micky

Top tips for a successful TokBox Broadcast Video Chat

Since we launched Broadcast Video Chat a couple of months ago we’ve had a lot of different people use it. There was of course the US Fish and Wildlife Service, our friends at Real Life Plus, the Critical Care team from a large national hospital and finally, this weekend the folks at Novoe Radio.

In talking to some of these people, we thought it would be interesting to share some tips on how to have a successful Broadcast Video Chat:

1. Make sure everyone has the correct URL for the chat

There are two URLs for every Broadcast Video Chat.  One is for people who are “on-screen” who will be doing most of the talking and presenting, the other is for “off-screen” participants who are going to be mainly watching and listening.

2. Ask people to check their camera and microphone in advance

This will save set-up time at the beginning of the chat.  They can simply go to tokbox.com, sign up for a free account, start a chat.  If they can see themselves and the audio meter is active, then they’re good to go.  Otherwise, they need to click on the “wrench” in the video chat to check the correct camera and microphone are being picked up.

3. Use an external microphone, particularly if you have multiple people in the same room, using the same computer

If you have multiple people in the same room, using the same computer, you should use an external microphone to help prevent issues with echo.  There are lots to choose from, but an inexpensive option is this Logitech noise-cancelling microphone

4. Set your privacy settings for Instant Messages to “allow from anyone”

This will enable you to follow all the text chat that takes place within the Broadcast Video Chat. Simply go to My Account and select Privacy.  Set the Instant Message option to “Allow from anyone”

5. Set up your media in advance

If you have presentations, videos or photos to share, set them up in advance to prevent any last minute panics.  Simply click on the “TV icon” at the top of the page for your Broadcast Video Chat.  Add the URLs for your videos, presentations etc. and click “Queue”.  When you come back to start the chat, they will be there ready for you to share.

6. “Plant” some questions before the chat starts

As with any conference, there’s always a little shyness on the part of the audience.  Ask a few people to think up questions and submit a video question in advance by clicking on the chat URL in advance and then clicking “Record a question”.  As the moderator you can then share this in the chat and inspire others to ask a question.

7.  Appoint an “off-screen” moderator

If you’re expecting a large crowd and for there to be a lot of discussion, you should try and appoint a moderator to field video questions, manage the sharing of presentations and generally make sure things run smoothly.  This moderator can produce the chat from off-screen so they can be multi-tasking and not appear distracted on-screen or take up valuable space 🙂

8. Have a ‘dress rehearsal’ with the “moderator” and “speakers”

Try and get everyone together in advance of the meeting and make sure they have familiarized themselves with all of the features and functionality, particularly if you are going to ask them to moderate the chat at any point.

If you’ve tried a Broadcast and have some more tips and tricks to share, please let us know or simply comment here on the blog post.

Micky
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Now you can dial-into your Tokbox video chat!

Often at TokBox we’re trying to have a meeting with the team or some of our Partners and someone says “Oh, I’ll be in the car at 2pm” or “My only time to meet today is 12noon, but I can’t be online”.  We’re left combining a TokBox video chat with a phone conversation via Polycom.  Frustrating.  It’s also something we’ve been hearing from our users.

So, we’ve done something about it.  This week we launched the ability to dial-in to TokBox video chats.

For every video chat that you start we provide a phone number and chat code for you to give to anyone you want to take part.  All they have to do is dial the number, enter the chat code and they’re in the chat.

Dial-in is a premium feature and the owner of the chat is charged 11 cents per minute for every phone participant.  So if 2 people join your video chat by phone and talk for 10 minutes, you will be charged for 20 phone minutes, $2.20.

If you’re itching to get started, here’s how:

1. Start or scheduled a video chat.
2. Give the dial-in phone number (1-877-6TOKBOX) and chat code (shown in picture below) to anyone you want to join. If you have scheduled your chat, it is automatically sent out with the email invitation.

3. When a phone user dials-in using the given phone number, they will be prompted to type in their chat code and say their name.
4. You will be prompted to allow the phone participant into the call (see picture below).
5. If you’re not sure who it is, you can listen to the name of the person dialing in by clicking “Hear name” button
6. To accept the phone participant in to the chat you have agree to our terms and conditions by clicking check box and allow the user in by clicking allow button. You will be charged 11 cents per minute for every phone participant.
7. Hey presto! you can hear them.
If you’ve subscribed to moderation and scheduling, or if your chat is a broadcast video chat, you’ll get the same controls to remove or silence the participant as you would with a video chat participant in a moderated or broadcast call. (shown in picture below).

Let us know what you think about this new feature and we would be happy to answer any questions. You can reach us at help@tokbox.com.

-Gaurav

Apple embracing video chat – it’s about (face) time

The announcement of the iPhone 4 with front facing camera has been long awaited by those in the video chat and video conferencing space, even before the leak a couple of months ago.  For us at TokBox, its something we have been hoping to see launched for some time. Here at TokBox, we’re huge believers in the power of face-to-face communication to create more engaged and engaging conversation between people in different places.  Our mission is to make it so easy for groups to video chat that those kinds of conversations and interactions happen everyday at home, in the office, or wherever you are. Mobile is a key part of that mission.

Until now every time a user has asked me if they can use TokBox on their cell phone, I have had to say no.  In the North American market, there just aren’t a lot of smart phones with front-facing cameras.  On top of that, carriers haven’t exactly been competing to be first in line to carry two-way video traffic.

Today’s announcement from Apple is clearly a step in the right direction.  Person-to-person video chat on the new iPhone will introduce more people to the power of face-to-face video communication and hopefully it will encourage other manufacturer to add front-facing high-resolution video cameras to their list of smartphone capabilities.

As front-facing cameras become commonplace and carriers step up to carrying two-way video traffic, we are looking forward to the possibilities of taking TokBox’s group video communication truly mobile – moving it out of the office and off the desktop.  We’re working hard on making that happen, but for the moment our engineers are under strict instructions not to leave anything lying around in a bar…

In short, we’re excited to see that Apple has finally realized what we knew all along – that face time is the future of communications. It’s personal, it’s engaging and it has huge potential.

Micky

National Small Business Week: Social Media and Small Businesses

National Small Business Week kicked off in Washington, DC this week and it looks like the next few days will be jam-packed for those attending.  Discussions range from the impact of Small Businesses on America’s economy to Innovation and Social Media, and of course they will be announcing the winner of National Small Business Person of the Year.

I for one am particularly interested to hear what they have to say about Social Media and Small Businesses.  Recently I have been talking to businesses of all sizes about how they are leveraging Social Media in more and more innovative ways.  One trend I see emerging is the use of new Social Media tools to build deeper relationships with customers, one that goes beyond 140 characters and one that drives true engagement with the brand.

I thought that in the spirit of National Small Business Week I would share some of the innovative ways in which TokBox is being used to do that with you.

Real Life Plus is a virtual world that is actively engaging with their community to build their product.  They haven’t launched yet, but they regularly get their community together on TokBox, using Broadcast Video Chat, to get feedback on features, to generate new ideas and keep their ears (and eyes) to the ground on what is happening in the gaming world.  They simply circulate the chat URL and everyone hops on!

Long-time TokBox user, Scott Jordan from Scottevest, uses TokBox video messaging a lot to send video messages to his users rather than just emails. Whether he is trying to introduce a new product or answer a customer question, it helps to put a face to the brand and makes him stand out from the crowd.   We were also interested to see self-confessed Marketing “geek” Lorraine Ball talk about using TokBox in the same way on the Marketing Tech Blog only last week.

The Marketing “geek” in me thinks that one of the most powerful ways to use TokBox to engage with customers is for customer service.  My own personal belief is that customer service is one of the most powerful tools that any marketer has.  If you receive high-quality service you not only form a positive opinion of that brand, but you’re also more likely to tell your friends about it.  Couple high-quality service with being able to offer that service face-to-face, rather than via ‘phone or email, and I think you’re on to a winner.

We have been experimenting with doing this ourselves, hosting Broadcast Video Chats on TokBox for anyone to join with their questions, comments or ideas.  We’ll be doing another one of those this Friday at 11am PST, so feel free to join us to talk about innovative ways in which you use Social Media tools, including TokBox, or simply to share your ideas with us! Just click on this link to join the call  http://www.tokbox.com/Micky/TokBox-Community-Call

I look forward to talking to you then.

Micky

A Conservation Conversation: Black Footed Ferrets on TokBox

Last Friday was Endangered Species Day and to mark the occasion, the US Fish and Wildlife Service hosted a live TokBox Broadcast Video chat between Black Footed Ferret experts and 4th graders from a dozen schools across the US.

Black Footed Ferrets were classified as endangered in 1967 and in 1985 the remaining 18 ferrets were captured in an effort to preserve the population, breed and later reintroduce them in to the wild.

Today, there are about 290 ferrets in captivity and 800-1000 in the wild.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to take this success story to children across the US and teach them the importance of conservation projects like this and chose to do it using TokBox.

With one expert “in the field”, another at the breeding facility and one in the classroom, the children were able to learn all about Black Footed Ferrets, see both the full grown ferrets and their kits as well as interact with the experts.

It was great to see Broadcast Video Chat being used for the purpose which it was designed – getting a large group of people together to interact face-to-face.  We look forward to seeing more of these in the future and being able to share stories, like that of the Black Footed Ferret with you all.

Micky
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Now you can video chat with your Facebook friends on TokBox!

I am very happy to announce that as of this afternoon you can video chat on TokBox with all of your Facebook friends. We just rolled out Facebook connect which allows all new and returning users to fill up their contact list with their buddies from Facebook.

For a returning user, the steps are really quite simple.

1. Click the big “ADD” button at the bottom of the contact list and choose “Add account.”

From their you can add “Facebook chat.”

All you need to do is login and go through a simple pop-up flow and within seconds all of your Facebook friends will populate your contact list. You can then click the video icon near their name, and before you know it you’re in a call. It’s as simple as that!

Let us know how you like the feature and if you’ve got any questions be sure to shoot us an email at help@tokbox.com

Have a great weekend,
Andrew