For your iPad, means you have to use e-mail address and if you have also an iPhone use Apple ID.
For recipient, they have to do the same to activate the iMessage.
Are you trying to message another Apple device?
Using FaceTime http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4319
Troubleshooting FaceTime http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3367
The Complete Guide to FaceTime + iMessage: Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting FaceTime and iMessage activation
iOS: About Messages
Set up iMessage
Setting Up Multiple iOS Devices for iMessage and Facetime
FaceTime and iMessage not accepting Apple ID password
Unable to use FaceTime and iMessage with my apple ID