Meebo Users Like Sharing Via Facebook Connect

Meebo, an instant messaging company that offers an IM aggregator site as well as a toolbar that runs on other sites, has been using Facebook in a few different ways to beef up its features. So we caught up with chief executive Seth Sternberg recently to hear how things are going.

The company, notably, just announced a deal with Nielsen Business Media, and the toolbar will start appearing on the publication’s network of sites, including The Hollywood Reporter, AdWeek and MediaWeek. In case you’re not familiar, the toolbar lets you chat with friends on a wide range of IM networks while using the site that the toolbar’s on; it also lets you share items from any page with the toolbar with your IM friends, or with your friends on Facebook and Twitter (and, also just announced, Yahoo), and with your email contacts. The company currently reaches 34 million people in the US and 94 million worldwide.

In terms of sharing on the toolbar, Sternberg tells us that as a portion all items shared, Facebook and email are about equally popular with mainstream news and social sites, with Twitter being about a third as popular. Meanwhile, for tech-focused news sites, Facebook and Twitter are used about the same amount, with email being the less popular method. In other words, he sees Twitter replacing email for link-sharing among tech-types, while Facebook holding its own among all audiences. He didn’t provide how much sharing happens, but this is still an interesting data point.

Here’s how the toolbar enables sharing. You either need to sign in using both Meebo and Facebook Connect from the toolbar, or have signed in to at least Meebo if not both from the Meebo home site. Once you do so, you’ll be able to see and chat with all of your friends on Facebook’s chat service. In the lower-left hand portion of the toolbar, there’s also an option to share items on the page. If you click on it, you’ll see an interface where you can click on links, photos, videos and other content on the page and share them with your IM friends.

By providing the toolbar for other web sites, and integrating social services from Facebook and other sites, Meebo allows a normally non-social web page to become social. The toolbar also includes a pop-out multimedia ad, and it splits revenue from the ad with partner sites. Social features and potential revenue explain how Meebo is managing to sign up more partners — 100 are already live, with another 150 planning to start running the toolbar.

Also, so far, Meebo has been placing less emphasis on promoting Facebook on its home IM aggregator site, because the chat integration requires users to go through the Facebook Connect sign-in process. Other chat service, like AOL’s AIM and Google’s Gtalk, only require you to sign in using your username and password. However, Sternberg says it plans to give Facebook more prominence in the future.