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Social Login Trends Across the Web Q2 2011

By Michael Olson | Posted on July 19, 2011

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The recent launch of Google+ has added further intrigue to the complex social media landscape. People use Facebook to interact with close friends and family; Twitter to follow influencers and share opinions; LinkedIn to maintain their professional network; and Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail/MSN to communicate directly with their contacts. How do these paradigms influence our trust and loyalty toward each platform? And where will emerging players like Google+ fit into the picture?

Businesses seeking to go deeper with social media are finding that the social space is very fragmented today. This underscores the need for technology solutions that function as aggregators, such as Janrain Engage.

To illustrate this point, Marketing Charts just published the latest in our series of quarterly social login and social sharing trend reports. Each quarter, we examine users’ social login and sharing preferences across the 350,000 websites using Janrain Engage.

2011 Social Login Preferences for Q2

Last quarter, we reported that Facebook had eclipsed Google as the most popular sign-in choice in this sample set. This trend continued into Q2, with 39% of all sign-ins occurring via Facebook, compared to 30% for Google. Yahoo! and Twitter have held steady as the third and fourth most popular choices.

q2011 social login preference

Despite Facebook’s popular status across multiple verticals, our data indicates that uniform preference among social media providers does not exist. Over 60% of online users prefer to use a social identity other than Facebook to login to a website. Providing a choice for registration and login will accommodate broader range of users.

Social Login Preferences

The chart below shows the trend in social login preferences since we began this series a year and a half ago. The most evident observation here is Facebook’s ascent since the middle of 2010. This comes as no surprise, but given its recent reports of decelerated user growth rates, it will be interesting to see if Facebook’s share of overall social login preference begins to level off.

q2011 social login preferences trend

As with prior analyses, we have also examined sample data sets by industry vertical to determine if site type impacts login preference.

Media Social Login Preferences

On media and digital publisher sites, Facebook is the most popular choice. Yahoo!’s share has declined 6% during the past year and half, but its popularity as a sign-in provider is still more pronounced in this space than in any other vertical. For the first time, Google has eclipsed Yahoo! as the second most popular choice.

q2011 media social loginp references trend

Retail Social Login Preferences

After enjoying a consistent quarterly growth rate of 5% since Q1 2010, Facebook’s share of social sign-ins on retail sites has stabilized at a shade under 50%.

q2011 retail social login preferences trend

Entertainment & Gaming Social Login Preferences

On entertainment and gaming sites, Facebook’s share has declined a bit. We continue to be most intrigued by the relative popularity of Windows Live as a sign-in provider on gaming sites. The email provider performs much better in this vertical than others, which could be attributed to the number of MSN Gaming Zone members who are active on other gaming sites across the web with their Windows Live IDs.

q2011 entertainment gaming social login preferences trend

Music Sites Social Login Preferences

Facebook and Google lead again on music sites, including those of popular artists as well as Internet radio. Interestingly, Google’s popularity has crept up in this vertical after hovering at about 8% share one year ago. But preferences do not match the larger entertainment vertical. Twitter and Windows Live earn 10% share apiece, while Yahoo! is preferred by only 7% of users on the sampled music sites.

q2011 music social login preferences trend

Mobile Social Login Preferences

We noticed a significant jump in the popularity of Facebook for social login on mobile apps last quarter, moving from 35% in Q1 to 56% in Q2. Facebook’s growth in this segment came mostly at the expense of Google, which dropped 7%, and Twitter, which dropped 6%.

q2011 mobile social login preferences trend

Europe Social Login Preferences

In Europe, Facebook remains atop the list at 43%, with Google maintaining its position as the second most popular option. Keep in mind that this data is sampled from Janrain customers across the continent, and Europe is rich with regional social networks that cater to specific local markets. In the Netherlands, for example, Hyves commands as much as 40-60% share of all social logins, easily trumping Facebook in popularity. In Germany, VZ-Netzwerke is a popular choice for social sign-in.

q2011 europe social login preferences trend

Social Sharing Preferences

Social login is only part of the story. As we all know, sharing is big part of today’s web. Not surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter are the leading destinations for socially shared content. 59% of users choose to share to their friends on Facebook, and 33% choose to share with their followers on Twitter.

LinkedIn has emerged as a popular sharing destination on B2B sites, while Yahoo! also maintains a consistent presence due to its Updates social stream that is tied to Yahoo! Mail. While Myspace’s slice of the pie is small, its popularity for sharing increases significantly on entertainment and music sites that target a younger demographic.

Because Janrain Engage enables users to share an activity or piece of content to multiple social networks simultaneously with a single click, social sharing preferences are not mutually exclusive.

q2011 social sharing trend


If you are evaluating adding a social layer to your site to improve engagement and drive conversions, social login and sharing need to be integral components. These findings may serve as a valuable benchmark as you optimize your on-site social media strategy.

For Marketers:
Social login helps solve the challenge of how to collect more accurate data and info about users without sacrificing conversion rates. Social login reduces the registration process to a single click and gives you instant access to rich demographic, psychographic and social graph/friends data on your users. This social profile data can be leveraged for personalization of content or product recommendations, improved campaign segmentation and smarter marketing. Social sharing lets your users broadcast content and activities from your site to their social networks, increasing brand advocacy and creating an effective channel to drive qualified referral traffic to your site.

For Developers and Technologists:
Implementing the plumbing for each social network API on your own can be a major headache, because each one uses different protocols 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 lead 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.

You can view an archive of our previous quarterly reports below:

April 2011 – Social Login and Social Sharing Trends Across the Web
December 2010 – What are the Most Popular Networks for Social Login and Sharing on the Web?
August 2010 – Measuring the Popularity of Social media Platforms Across the Web
April 2010 – Data Reveals Trends Among Social Media Platforms
January 2010 – Data on Industry Trends in Social Media Platforms

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About the author

Michael Olson

Michael Olson

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Michael Olson joined Janrain more than five and a half years ago and has experienced the explosive growth of the digital marketing technology landscape. Previously, he managed demand generation programs at Janrain. Currently, as the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Michael drives go-to-market strategy for product launches as well as positioning and messaging to communicate the value of customer profile management solutions to companies. Michael's writing has been featured in publications such as GigaOM, Adotas and iMedia Connection.

View all posts by Michael Olson