Social-networking site Bebo announced on Thursday that it has struck a deal with AIM, AOL's instant-messaging arm. Through this partnership, users of either service can now easily invite friends to the other.
More specifically, Bebo users who have provided the site with their AIM usernames will now see an AIM icon displayed on their profiles so that other members can click on it to IM them directly through Bebo's interface. There's also a new "AIM Friend Finder" in Bebo so that members can invite the denizens of their AIM buddy lists to join Bebo, as well as a co-branded downloadable client so that Bebo has a presence on AIM as well.
Bebo, which has had most of its success in the United Kingdom, already has an active instant-messaging partnership with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger. When asked for comment, Bebo representatives stressed that this partnership is still extant and that the AIM deal is separate.
Thursday's announcement, consequently, should put to rest any rumors that a Bebo-Microsoft partnership on instant messaging might hint at a potential acquisition or future alliances; clearly, the social network is pursuing a strategy of partnering with multiple instant-messaging clients to create viral buzz and further engage its young and IM-happy user base.
Think about it: If Bebo users are IMing each other internally through the site, that means they're spending more time there. It'll probably look good to advertisers.