By Michael Olson | Posted on January 07, 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.
Each quarter, we seek to answer this question by analyzing social login preferences for online consumers across all websites using Janrain. These trends are significant because 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, such a choice serves as an indication of the trust and affinity felt toward that service.
When it comes to social login, our data shows that people want choice. For the 8th consecutive quarter, Facebook leads as the most popular identity provider for social login. During Q4, Facebook did lose ground to Google, dropping in popularity from 54% to 49%, while Google’s share of social logins ascended from 25% to 31%.
Despite the moderate decrease in share of social logins during Q4, Facebook still remains the most popular choice for the eighth consecutive quarter. After reaching an all-time quarterly high during Q3, Twitter’s share also decreased moderately to 7% during Q4.
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, and key profile fields such as our verified email address, company name, job title and industry can be pre-populated on the registration form of a B2B website to dramatically accelerate the sign-up process.
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, and music-related sites. Its popularity is especially pronounced on entertainment, music, gaming and consumer brand websites. Facebook did make notable gains on retail and eCommerce sites during Q4, with a 5% increase in share of social logins.
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 sites, which could perhaps be a reflection of the trust that people place in Google as a secure provider of their online identity.
On mobile applications, Facebook and Google lead in popularity, followed by Twitter and Yahoo!.
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 should be fully integrated. We hope these findings provide a useful benchmark as you optimize your online user acquisition strategy.
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