By Michael Olson | Posted on January 01, 2014
During the past five years, the ability to register and log in on websites with a social network or email identity has become increasingly prevalent. In fact, 90% of people have encountered social login before, and more than half of people use it. Because it makes the account creation and login process so much faster and easier and eliminates the need to remember yet another username and password, it’s no surprise that social login has become so popular.
But which networks are people most likely to choose? How do these preferences differ based on the type of sites people visit? We all use multiple social networks for different purposes. Facebook is generally where we interact with our close friends and family. LinkedIn is where we maintain our professional persona. Google+ lets us do both, by letting us organize our social graph and content we share into circles. We use Twitter to follow influencers, share opinions, and read about topics of interest. And Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft are our primary means of privately communicating with others via email.
For four years, Janrain has published quarterly reports to shed light on consumer preferences for social login, with data aggregated from the websites that use Janrain. The key takeaway, above all else, is that people want choice. In other words, there is not a single identity provider to rule them all.
During Q4, Facebook reversed a year-long slide and actually gained two-tenths of a percentage point in share, increasing to a shade above 45%. But to us, the biggest story this quarter is that Google continues to close the gap as the second most popular choice, with its share increasing 2.5% to 35%. With the continued emergence of Google+, and the company’s push to unify each of its services (Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Android, etc.) under a single Google identity, we’re not surprised to see consumers placing more affinity in their Google identities, with social login preferences following suit.
Which networks lost ground in favor of Google and Facebook? Twitter dropped one percentage point and Microsoft lost a bit of ground, while Yahoo held serve at 7%. With Yahoo bolstering its editorial staff and conceivably drawing more active users, we look forward to seeing how its share will react as a result.
Despite the perception that this could be a two-horse race, it is important to point out just how much consumer preference differs across the world as well as on certain types of sites. LinkedIn, for example, is an especially popular choice on sites that cater toward business professionals, when we want to project our professional identity.
In Russia, VK is one of the most popular social networks and is a common choice for social login. In Brazil and India, Orkut is a popular selection. In China, networks such as Sina Weibo and Renren are popular. In Japan, many choose Mixi. More recently-supported identity providers for Janrain, such as Amazon and Instagram, earn anywhere from 10-25% share of social logins on many sites that have enabled it, and as more Janrain customers begin to support them, we expect these services to factor into the conversation more prominently.
As with prior analyses, we have taken a sampling of sites in six industry verticals to measure trends in consumer login preferences.
Facebook and Google held their form as the two most popular choices across most of the industry segments sampled, with a slightly increased preference on retail, entertainment and consumer brand sites. On music sites, Facebook’s share dropped by 11% from Q3, with Google and Twitter the primary beneficiaries. On sites that cater to business professionals, we also saw Facebook maintain a narrow lead over all other networks despite losing a bit of ground to LinkedIn and Google.
What do these findings mean for your business? As you think of ways to improve customer acquisition and recognize your customers while they are on your website, consider using social login.
Social login helps solve the challenge of how to collect more accurate customer profile data without sacrificing customer acquisition rates. Social login accelerates the registration process to a single click and gives you instant permission-based access to rich demographic and psychographic data about your customers. This social profile data can be utilized to improve your segmentation, personalization and targeting efforts.
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, OpenID Connect, OAuth, and proprietary technologies. As a result, coding social login on your own can require a significant investment of time, engineering expertise and ongoing maintenance as the networks change their APIs, in some instances without much advanced notice. Your social login and sharing solution should allow you to easily integrate multiple 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 login technology implemented on your site will always just work, without the hassle.
We hope these findings provide a useful benchmark for you!
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