By Michael Olson | Posted on April 08, 2013
If you’re like 87% of people, you have likely come across the option to register at a website using one of your existing social network or email identities. This is known as social login, a technology that Janrain pioneered to solve the challenge websites have faced when acquiring users online via traditional registration processes. As web users, we don’t like filling out registration forms from scratch. Nor do we enjoy maintaining dozens of distinct usernames and passwords on each site that we frequently visit.
The advent of social media has emboldened us to foster personas for ourselves online. But the social media landscape is fragmented. We tend to use Facebook to interact with friends and family, Twitter to follow influencers and share opinions, LinkedIn as our professional network, and Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail to communicate directly with our important contacts. Combined, more than 2.5 billion of us maintain accounts with these services, and social login solves the registration challenge by making it possible to use those identities to easily sign up and log in on sites across the web.
But which identity providers are the most popular choices? Each quarter, we seek to answer this question by analyzing social login preferences for online consumers across all websites using Janrain. Why do these trends matter for digital marketer? Social login preferences are a leading indicator of consumer trust in the different online identity providers. If I use my Google account to login and participate on sites across the web, for example, that choice serves as an indication of the trust and affinity felt toward Google’s service.
When it comes to social login, our data shows that people want choice. Facebook currently leads as the most popular identity provider for social login. During Q1, Facebook did lose ground to Google for the second consecutive quarter, dropping in popularity from 49% during Q4 2012 to 46% in Q1 2013, while Google’s share of social logins ascended from 31% to 34% during the same period.
Despite the moderate decrease in share of social logins during Q4, Facebook still remains the most popular choice for the ninth consecutive quarter. After reaching an all-time quarterly high during Q3, Twitter’s share also decreased moderately during each of the last two quarters.
LinkedIn enjoys substantial popularity on sites that cater toward business professionals, with as many as 80% of business professionals choosing to log in with their LinkedIn identity on some B2B websites. A majority of us maintain our professional online identity on LinkedIn. When using this identity to register on B2B sites, consumers can choose to grant the website access to their LinkedIn profile information, including a verified email address, first and last name, company name, job title and industry. The site can then use this information to conveniently pre-populate a sign-up form, which eliminates the need for consumers to fill out the form from scratch or enter lots of redundant details about themselves.
We also have observed disparate preferences across geographic regions. For example, Hyves contends with Facebook as the most popular social network in the Netherlands, and social login preferences on Dutch websites substantiate that notion. In Brazil and India, Orkut is a popular identity provider for social login, while in China, Sina Weibo and Renren maintain popularity. Mixi is a common social login choice in Japan, while VK is preferred in Russia.
As with prior analyses, we have taken a sampling of sites in four industry verticals to measure trends in consumer login preferences. While the overall story arc is similar, there are disparate preferences within each vertical that merit attention.
Despite its decreased share across all Janrain customer websites, Facebook still leads other social networks and email providers across prominent industry verticals including media, retail, entertainment and gaming, consumer brands, and music-related sites. Its popularity is especially pronounced on entertainment, gaming, retail and consumer brand websites.
Google is performing well as the second most favored portable identity provider across each of these verticals, but its popularity is most evident on retail and consumer brand sites, which could perhaps be a reflection of the trust that people place in Google as a secure provider of their online identity. With Janrain’s recent launch of Google+ as a sign-in provider, we expect the propensity for consumers to choose a Google identity for social login to increase throughout 2013.
What do these findings mean for your business? As you work to add a social layer to your site to improve engagement and drive conversions, social login and sharing should be fully integrated. We hope these findings provide a useful benchmark as you optimize your on-site social media strategy.
Social login helps solve the challenge of how to collect more accurate data on your users while increasing registration conversion rates at the same time. Social login shortens the registration process to a single click and gives you instant permission-based access to rich demographic, psychographic and social graph data on your users. This social profile data can be leveraged for content personalization or product recommendations and more tailored segmentation and targeting. Social sharing enables your users to broadcast content and activities from your site to their social networks, increasing brand advocacy and creating an effective source of qualified referral traffic back to your site.
It can be a big headache to implement the plumbing to each social network API on your own. These networks use different protocols under the hood, such as OpenID, OAuth, hybrids and proprietary technologies. As a result, coding social login on your own requires a significant investment of time, engineering expertise and ongoing maintenance as the networks change their APIs, often without advanced notice. Your social login and sharing solution should allow you to easily connect to all the social networks by writing once to a single API. By cutting deployment times from weeks or months to a couple days, you can focus on your core competency while trusting that the social and user management tools on your site just work.
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