Instant messaging tools are becoming extremely common (one the biggest gripes from early buyers of just launched Apple iPhone was that it does not have a built-in chat). Most of us are now very familiar and comfortable with regular IM tools like MSN Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo messenger, Skype chat, GTalkr etc. You install them on your computer - and connect directly to the people you know.
In this post I want to discuss a new and different application of instant messaging tools - creating a chat room within your website. Probably the best example of is this is MeeboMe - a snippet of code that lets you put an IM box on your webpage through which people can talk to you and each other. This is a very quick and easy way for you to connect your supporters, members, donors and other people with each other.
What is MeeboMe?
In tech terms, Meebo is a cool cross-platform, multi-protocol, Ajax-based IM and presence awareness aggregator. The one-page application allows anyone on any computer platform to access and log in to Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AOL IM and ICQ from one single interface. Similar to desktop applications like Trillian and Gaim, Meebo provides a single buddy list that is automatically populated upon signing into the meebo web site. Free to use.
MeeboMe is the new way to chat online. MeeboMe allows people to contact you and see when you're online whenever they visit your site by putting a chat window right on your own home page. When logged into meebo, you can chat with all of your visitors in real time and access your favorite IM networks (MSN, AIM, Yahoo, gtalk, jabber) as well, all in one place. See who's on your page, chat with them and publish your online presence all in real time and all totally on the web.
According to Techcrunch, Meebo is now averaging about 250,000 logins per day. On December 7, twelve weeks after launch, Meebo had 236,000 successful logins, 6,534,948 messages sent and approximately 13,069,896 total messages carried. Impressive!
Meebo has been widely used as a convenient way to access all of the major IM networks from any computer with an Internet connection, since the web-based Ajax client doesn’t require any installation of software, thus making it like web-based email - easy to access and use.
How do you put it to work on your site?
Adding a chat window to your website can help engage your member and provide an easy way for them to communicate with you and with fellow members. Furthermore, as the widget has the ability to play media files and videos, your members won't run out of something to talk about. Here’s an example of how you can embed a MeeboMe chatroom and get your members involved:
Customizing your widget
To get Meebo Me on your page, go to meebome.com and follow the three step process. The first step will help you to customize the widget. Begin by entering the name for the widget and then enter a name for yourself. Next, select an appropriate size for the chat window. The image on the right will show how tall and wide the widget will be. Then choose a color theme by clicking on a theme name. If you don't want a predefined theme click on "Customize It..." and select colors manually. When you are finished click on "next".
Logging on to Meebo
Upon registration, the second step will ask you to log on to Meebo. You must have an account with Meebo in order to use it. Register, log on and then continue to step 3.
Embedding the widget on your website
In this third step, meebome will provide you with a small piece of code which will make Meebo Me alive on your page.
You literally copy and paste these lines on into the position you would like your chat room to appear, and it will be published as soon as your post goes live. Use your browser to check that the chat window is now visible on the page.
Communicate with your members
Now that you have the Meebo Me chatroom on your website, your members can start chatting with each other. But first, let your members know about it. You can either email them or post a notice on your website, whatever captures their attention. Don't assume that all your members will be familiar with IM, so briefly explain how the chatroom works and any features that you might want to highlight.
When embedded in your site, like the example above, your Meebo Me Chat Room has a simple look and feature-set, but still manages to pack in some key features. You are told how many people are currently in the chat room, and can click on any individual to send them a message. Anytime a member visits the site and the widget loads, they show up as a visitor on the website owner’s Meebo IM list. The new visitors are assigned a name like “MeeboGuest29″, but they can change their handle using the widget. By default, the chat widget is “on”, and members can thus send messages to the website owner (if they’re online) and the website owner can initiate a conversation with any visitor.
If you would like to learn more about MeeboMe, you might want to check out the following links: