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Social Login Continues Strong Adoption

By Jamie Beckland | Posted on June 05, 2014

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Recently, there has been some conversation in the press about whether consumers and businesses trust social login. I’m glad to see this conversation happening in public; in many ways, it is a culmination of the work that we have been doing at Janrain for years. We have always seen the adoption of social login as accelerating when everyone wins – the consumer, the website, and the social networks.

It’s good to see open discussion on issues of consumer privacy, data sharing and rights, and valuable brand interactions. Here are a few of the themes that I have noticed recently:

Are Businesses Conflicted about the Power of Facebook, Google, et. al.?

Some people think that websites are wary of Facebook and Google learning more about their customers. I understand where that concern comes from, but ultimately, it is misplaced. With social login functionality, the data flows only one way—from the identity provider to the website or app. Social login has always been about making registration experiences easier and social data is a tool by which brands can create experiences that resonate with their consumers through personalization. Neither the results of that consumer experience nor any additional consumer data collected by the brand are shared with identity providers like Facebook or Google. In fact, doing so would violate the terms and conditions of many brands.

Has the Business Interest in Social Login Peaked?

Some analysts see social login as functionality that businesses are not interested in or committed to. However, we are not seeing that in our own experience. There is strong interest from a number of verticals on the power of making login and registration easier. And, there is a growing understanding of the importance of collecting and managing psychographic data of the customer base. Finally, there is huge interest in solving the growing multi-device mobile user problems that are facing all brands with a digital presence.

Are Consumers Worried About Their Data When Using Social Login?

You sometimes hear that consumers are wary of social login because they are concerned about what will happen to their data and permissions. In general, it’s true that consumers are thinking more about how their data is used, and want to know that their personal information won’t be used or shared without their permission.

However, consumers are more sophisticated than some people give them credit. Our own research, since 2010, shows that social login is accepted and preferred by consumers:

The truth is, that across the hundreds of thousands of websites and apps using Janrain Social Login, we’ve observed that 50-75% of consumers who register will choose social login. For brands such as Dr. Pepper and Yamaha, for example, 70% of all registrations are via social login.

Most importantly, social login puts consumers in control of their data. Consumers are able to protect and control their data in multiple ways:

  • What’s in the profile: consumers can only share data that is on their profile in the first place.
  • What is asked for by the website: consumers only share data that the website clearly and transparently asks for.
  • What is permissioned by the consumer: some identity providers (e.g. Facebook) offer granular permissions. In addition, Janrain recommends offering multiple identity providers, so that users can log in with the identity and data that fits the use case and their comfort level.

Is Gathering Customer Data About A Trusted Relationship Between Company and Customer?

For the past five years, Janrain has been committed to the notion that sharing social profile data with a business should be part of a clear give-to-get relationship, where both sides understand the value they are receiving. Companies must offer real value in exchange for the data they request from consumers. Channel 4’s “viewer promise” is a great example of how to educate customers on:

  • Why data is collected (to provide programming that viewers will want)
  • How it will be used, and (to target advertising, to fund program creation)
  • What the viewer gets in return (video on demand across multiple devices)

How Are Successful Companies Using Social Login?

We see enthusiastic adoption by brands that are committed to building deeper relationships with their customers. Registration and login are not just a “feature” – they are part of a deep strategy to build a relevant customer journey. When a business does not have a clear strategy for using registration and login, they will struggle to know their customers across browsers, devices and channels, and ultimately, disappoint their customers.

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About the author

Jamie Beckland

Jamie Beckland

VP of Product

Jamie has been delivering custom web solutions for more than 10 years, and built his first social media community in 2004. Prior to Janrain, Jamie led the emerging media practice at White Horse, and has worked as a marketer and technologist with clients including Coca-Cola, Financial Times, Samsung, Wells Fargo, L’Occitane, The Brooking Institution, and many others. He frequently speaks about technology trends and writes for Mashable, Social Media Examiner, iMediaConnection, AdAge, and other publications.

View all posts by Jamie Beckland