Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meebo Chat Low-down

GoogleTalk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Instant Messenger, AIM . . . With so many instant messaging platforms out there, it's no longer practical to choose just one to communicate with patrons or customers. So how do you manage accounts on all of these platforms? Meebo is one of the many "multi-protocol" chat tools out there that can help you manage multiple chat/IM accounts, making it easier to cater to the individual chat preferences of your users. Just set up your free Meebo account, add all of your other chat accounts (Google, Yahoo, MSN Instant Messanger, AOL AIM, etc.), and you're pretty much ready to chat. If you'd like to close your browser but still be alerted whenever someone wants to chat, download the Meebo notifier for Windows (sorry Mac users). Meebo also has a built in video/audio chat feature and gives users the ability to send files through Meebo which could come in handy when you're collaborating on a project or need to send or receive visual information (e.g., a screenshot) to someone.

One of the biggest advantages with Meebo is that by installing the Meebo Me widget, you can create a way for anyone to chat with you anonymously through your website without needing to create an account or download a chat client. This is a big plus if you're trying to maximize your chat availability and accessibility. The Meebo Me widget is surprisingly easy to install too. Meebo generates the code and you paste it into your webpage code wherever you'd like the chat to appear [here's an example I created for a work project].

The one thing that Meebo seems to be missing is a way to log/archive chats with anonymous users and groups/chat rooms. At this time, logging is only available for conversations with people who are on your buddy list (who are most likely not anonymous users).

With all that said, Meebo is a pretty decent product for those of you wanting to be available to patrons or other customers via chat/instant message. If you know of other products out there (Trillian is one) that might be better, please drop me a line. I'd love to hear about them.

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