By Michael Olson | Posted on July 24, 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 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 analysing social login preferences for online consumers across all websites using Janrain. Why do these trends matter for digital marketer? Social login preferences provide a good indication of consumer affinity in their various online identities.
When it comes to social login, people want choice. Facebook currently leads as the most popular identity provider for social login. During Q2, Facebook held serve at 46% share, stemming the moderate decline it had experienced for the two prior consecutive quarters.
Google has gradually closed the gap on Facebook as the second most popular choice, and its share increased a fraction of a percent during Q2. While still trending in an increasing direction, its growth slowed despite Janrain’s launch of Google+ Sign-in in April.
We continue to be intrigued by how the growth in adoption of Google+ will impact these trends into the future. A recent study by Searchmetrics predicts that social sharing activity on Google+ could exceed that of Facebook by 2016, if current monthly growth rates sustain.
Despite the possible perception that this is a two-horse race, it is critical to note the diversity of consumer preferences on different types of sites. LinkedIn, for example, enjoys substantial popularity on sites that cater toward business professionals. Why? A majority of us maintain our professional online identity on LinkedIn and would prefer to project that persona for ourselves when interacting on B2B websites. 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 professional 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 consumer brand and retail sites, which could perhaps be a reflection of the trust that people place in Google as a secure provider of their online identity.
What do these findings mean for your business? As you work to add a social layer to your site to acquire more online users, social login should be fully integrated. We hope these findings provide a useful benchmark as you optimise your customer acquisition strategy.
For Digital Marketers:
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 personalisation or product recommendations and more tailored segmentation and targeting.
For Developers and Technologists:
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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