As I began to design and construct my web site for The Lab it was important for me to keep social business, social networking, front and center. The conversations that are taking place on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog are equally important to those on my business web site. The solution for my site was the Meebo bar.
What is the Meebo bar?
Meebo, for those that are unfamiliar with the service, provides an inexpensive (freemium) web chat service. The Meebo bar is simply a toolbar that displays at the bottom of your web pages (just above the browser’s status bar), always visible, that provides social functionality to your site’s visitors.
There are several benefits to the Meebo bar, including:
- Any page can be shared with your visitors network. They can literally click on the Share Page icon and share your page with their friends through email, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google Buzz.
- You setup, through an easy to use interface (no programming required), which buttons show up in the toolbar. The buttons include:
- Access to your other social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Users can, from the toolbar, easily see what other conversations are taking place in these channels. Your entire message, and those of your connections on all the other channels, are visible to your web site’s visitors. I am hoping to see more functionality for these access points as time goes on (access to photos of your site fans, ability to retweet and DM, etc..).
- Access to common sharing platforms like Digg and Stumbleupon. Your visitors can share your content with the world, helping spread the word. My only complaint is that I would love to see a broader set of sharing options as there are other great sharing sites available.
- Chat. If you a Meebo account setup, your site’s visitors can chat with you, when they want to, about information on your site. The chat capabilities are fairly weak, but enough to get you started.
- Statistics. Which buttons are used most often? Again, would love to see richer statistics, but for free, nice.
- Did I mention it’s free?
There are other alternatives, like Wibiya, that provide this type of toolbar functionality. They are actually a bit stronger in terms of functionality, but I was unable to get the bar to work consistently in Internet Explorer 8 browsers (worked great in Firefox and Chrome).
If you are not yet adding these capabilities to your site consider if now is the time.