Meebo is young, free, savvy and experiencing a tremendous growth spurt. Meebo lets you access and chat with any or all of your instant messaging buddies from anywhere in the world. Beyond just IM options, you'll find Meebo rooms for private chats, Meebo Me to add chat to your own Web site, Meebo Repeater to use when access is restricted, plus games and other applications.
Compared to IM services like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Yahoo Messenger, Meebo is just a kid, having launched in 2005. And Meebo lacks the breadth of features that those services and some others offer. But Meebo has something they don't -- the ability to cut across service boundaries, connecting Yahoo Messenger, AOL/AIM, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Jabber and ICQ users so they can all talk together. That's by registering and signing on via the Meebo Web site. No download or software installation is necessary.
The Meebo formula seems to be working. Users exchange more than 100 million IMs daily, according to the Meebo Web site. It's been called the fastest growing IM destination by Nielsen//NetRatings with usage up 354 percent from August 2006 to June 2007. Along the way, Meebo won a Web 2.0 award in 2006 and 2007 and was included among Time magazine's Top 50 coolest Web sites for 2006 and PC World's 100 best products for 2006 and 2007.
How does Meebo make it work? First, the user signs in at the Meebo Web site, and his computer connects with a Meebo server. When the user starts an IM session, Meebo uses a modified and optimized version of GAIM, an open-source client, to create a network connection with the user's IM network. The connection of user computer, Meebo server and IM network takes place almost instantaneously [source: Meebo blog].
While most Meebo users are 25 years old or younger, they also include others, such as U.S. soldiers IMing home from Iraq and workers talking to friends from the office. U.S. Meebo users only account for 30 percent of the total, so Meebo is available in 60-plus languages and dialects (even including Klingon and Pig Latin) [source: CenterNetworks].
Next, let's take a look at how easy it is to get started with Meebo.
Getting Started with Meebo
Getting started with Meebo is easy, beginning with the account set-up and Meebo sign in. Once that's accomplished, you're ready to IM or visit one of the Meebo rooms.
Setting Up a Meebo Account
- Go to Meebo, and click on the Meebo box at the far right.
- Click "Sign up" to open the registration window. You must be at least 13 years old to use Meebo. If Meebo hears from a reliable source that you're younger, your account will be terminated.
- Type in an ID name and password. Type the same password again after "Confirm," and click "Next."
- On the next screen, type your full name (which will not be shared) and e-mail address (used only to send lost passwords). Provide gender and age, if you want, and click "Create Meebo Account."
- In the New Connection box, choose your IM network (for example, AIM or Yahoo), give your screen name and password for that network, and hit "Sign On." Friends from that network will be added to your Meebo list. You can add your IM networks and access buddies from all of them simultaneously. You can use Meebo without creating an account by signing into one of the listed IM networks, but you won't be able to IM with friends using other networks.
Go to Meebo and sign on. You can check "Sign in as invisible" to be online but appear offline to your buddies.
To sign off, click "Sign Off" at the bottom of the buddy list.
To add another IM network, click on the Accounts icon and then "Already a User." Then add the network with your screen name and password for it, and click "Sign On."
The Preferences window lets you choose whether a sound plays when you send or receive an IM. You also can select a background for your screen and IM window from colors, or celebrity, rock group or fashion photos. And you can indicate whether you want emoticons (faces that show emotions) in your messages.
Your buddy list to the far right shows the friends you can IM from the networks you've added. Here's what each of the icons above the list does:
- Yellow face with a plus sign - Click to add a buddy. Fill in the buddy's name and network, and click "Add Buddy." The buddy will receive and respond to a request to add you to his or her list. You'll need to click "Accept" to be added. To create a new buddy group, right click on any group header and then "Add New Group." Type a group name, and click "Add New Group." Drop and drag buddy names into the new group folder.
- Yellow face with minus sign - Highlight a buddy's name, and click on this to remove the buddy from your list.
- Talk bubble - Click to IM. Enter the buddy's name and IM network, and a chat window will open. The buddy list shows status icons for friends and an offline section so you know who's available.
- Bubble and faces - Click to join or start a chat room.
- Rectangle with an arrow - Click to create a pop-up buddy list.
- Statement below the icons - Shows your availability. Click the triangle to change your status.
Now that you know the basics, let's find out more about features like Meebo rooms, chat logs and file sharing.
Meebo Rooms and Other Features
Meebo rooms and other features give you more options than simply IMing your friends. You can visit one of the existing Meebo chat rooms or set up one of your own. With other Meebo features, you can keep saved conversations, share files or block buddies. You also can find answers to questions at Meebo help [source: Meebo blog].
These chat rooms were added in May 2007 to provide group chat, as well as basic IM. You can participate as a Meebo member, or as a guest -- and you can share video, images, music or links to Web sites with other participants. You'll find a list of currently available rooms at the bottom of your Meebo page, once you've logged on. Or you can click on the Rooms icon at the top of the Meebo home page.
Featured rooms show the number of participants and types of recent media (images, pages, music, video) available to view. You also can choose a content-specific room by clicking on one of the topics in the list at the left.
To visit a room, click on one of the featured choices. Select a nickname, if you're a guest, or change your nickname if you're a Meebo user. Type a message inside the chat room to join in.
To create your own room, sign in and click on Create a Room. Type in a room name that's not already taken and click "Create New Room." You can include a room description and personalize with a room icon and color. You also can make the room private by requiring a password from visitors to enter. And you can embed your chat room on an external Web site, such as your MySpace page or blog.
To save your IM conversations, go to Preferences and choose "Save IM history to view later." To view your conversations with a buddy, right click on that buddy's name and select "View Chat Logs." You can delete a buddy's chat logs -- but you have to delete all of them. Right click the buddy name, go to "View Chat Logs," and then click on and confirm "X Delete All."
As a Meebo user, you can send files of up to 10MB at a time, or 30MB per month, to anyone and receive files from other Meebo users. However, files expire four hours after being sent and file sharing doesn't work with Safari browsers.
To send a file, double click on the recipient's name in your buddy list and click "File Transfer." Double click on the file you want to transfer in the File Upload window. If you receive a file, you'll see a message in the IM window that your buddy has sent you a file, plus file name and size with a link. Click on the link to open or download the file.
Blocking Unwanted IMs
You can block a buddy to keep them from IMing you. Click on the buddy's name, select "Block (Name here)," and click "Block" to confirm this. The buddy will be moved to your offline list. To unblock the buddy, click on his or her name and select "Unblock."
To block future IMs from an unknown sender, click the Block icon on IM window showing the person's message. Click OK, and the person will be blocked from sending you more messages.
Meebo offers tools like Meebo Me, Meebo Mobile and Meebo Repeater to make it easier to use. Go to the next page to learn more about these features.
Meebo Me and Other Tools
Meebo Me and other tools give Meebo users expanded use of Meebo functions. Meebo Me allows users to add real-time chat to their own Web pages, while Meebo Repeater lets them use Meebo to IM when access is restricted. Meebo Mobile provides access from iPhone and is being developed for other wireless devices. Let's take a closer look at each of these.
If you add a Meebo Me chat window to your personal Web site, blog or page of a social network like MySpace, visitors will know you're online and be able to chat with you right away. Meebo Me works on a Web page anywhere that html and a Flash widget can be imbedded, including Wordpress, Blogger, MySpace, Friendster and salesforce.com.
- Go to Meebo and create a widget, which will appear as a small screen on your Web site. You'll be asked to title the widget and pick a screen name. You can choose the widget's size and color and customize the text. Click "Next."
- Enter your Meebo ID and password on the screen and click "Next" again.
- On the next screen, you'll see code to copy and paste from a text box into your Web site html. Once you do that, visitors will be able to IM with you directly.
People who visit your Web site will appear on your Meebo buddy list as new visitors. They can start a conversation with you by just typing a message in the widget's text area. For more help, go to Meebo Me wiki.
With Meebo Repeater, you may be able to use Meebo from a site where access is restricted. The downloadable software shifts web traffic from one computer to another and then to Meebo servers. When the software is installed on a computer with free access to the Internet, such as a home computer, that computer can be used to bounce the signal from a blocked location to Meebo.
The Meebo repeater can only be used to access Meebo and to IM, so it doesn't give outsiders access to the home computer. Once you download and run the repeater, it activates, tests the connection and provides a URL for you to use to access Meebo.
In August 2007, Meebo launched its first version for a wireless device, the iPhone, with plans to develop interfaces for more devices. To use Meebo on an iPhone, log into Meebo. With Meebo Mobile, you can access your usual account and use the same settings. You get chat history for all of your buddies and can reach buddies on all of your IM networks.
Meebo is growing developmentally as well as in new user volume. From the beginning, users have played a key role. Its founders chose to launch Meebo light on features and then build as users requested. That's been the company's lifeblood, co-founder Seth Sternberg said in an interview with SEOmoz after Meebo received one of the Web site consulting firm's 2006 Web 2.0 awards [source: Seomoz]. Meebo uses an on-site blog to update users and a forum to gather their feedback and requests for new features. Count on Meebo to expand its offerings based on that input.
For lots more information about Meebo and related topics, check out the links on the next page.