The social media landscape is fragmented. People use Facebook to interact with friends and family, Twitter to follow influencers and share opinions, LinkedIn for their professional network, and Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail to communicate directly with contacts. Combined, these networks boast over 1.5 billion accounts.
Coupled with increasing reluctance from consumers to maintain distinct usernames and passwords on each frequently visited site, brands are rapidly seeking ways to leverage social network identities within their own properties. Through a secure process known as social login, these identities can be used to speed up registration on sites across the web. But which identities do people prefer both for sign-in and content sharing?
Each quarter, we seek to answer these questions by analyzing social login and social sharing preferences for online users across the 365,000 websites using Janrain Engage.
Social Login Trends for Q1 2012
When it comes to social login, people want choice. While Facebook is the most popular option at 45%, a majority would rather use a different social identity, such as Google, Yahoo! or Twitter.
Facebook’s share of social logins has increased considerably over the past two years, mostly at the expense of Google. But don’t assume that portends Google’s decline in influence. With Google+ rapidly scaling users and adoption, it will be interesting to see if it eventually overtakes Facebook again in social login popularity.
As with prior reports, 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 consideration.
Facebook’s popularity for social login on eCommerce websites has declined moderately from 49% to 43% during the past two quarters. Despite the decrease, it still enjoys significant popularity, which can be partially explained by the explosion of social commerce during the past year. Increasingly, retailers are offering social shopping experiences on their eCommerce sites that leverage a consumer’s Facebook social graph. We believe that the opportunity to incorporate friends into the online shopping experience will continue to influence the proclivity to choose Facebook when registering on retail sites. Yahoo!’s share of social logins on retail sites has plummeted since 2009, mostly at the expense of Google and Facebook.
On media websites, Yahoo! and Google are running strong as the second and third most popular providers. Despite a modest decline during the past several quarters, Yahoo! continues to perform best in this vertical – perhaps as a result of its realignment as a content network during the past several years. Twitter’s share within this segment has yet to accelerate, but its potential for future growth makes it worth keeping an eye on.
It’s also worth noting that Windows Live (Hotmail/MSN), historically a strong performer on entertainment and gaming sites, has experienced a notable decline in share of social logins during the past year.
Social Login Trends for Mobile in Q1 2012
On mobile applications, Facebook and Google lead in popularity, followed by Twitter and Yahoo!. Twitter’s improvement in popularity on mobile devices could be a result of its OAuth integration with Apple iOS 5 for social login, which has further socialized mobile users to rely on Twitter as an authentication mechanism on portable devices.
Social Sharing Trends in Q1 2012
More than ever, people are sharing comments, purchases, reviews and other content from the web to their social networks. Facebook and Twitter are far and away the most popular sharing destinations, but Yahoo!, LinkedIn and MySpace maintain preference on niche sites that are catered to their audience (B2B sites for LinkedIn and music sites for MySpace). During the past two quarters, Twitter’s popularity as a sharing destination has increased at a more prominent rate than other social networks.
Social Profile Data That Can Be Accessed
Social login opens the door to collecting a rich amount of profile data from a user’s social network account. Each social network provides a different set of profile data on their users, which can help speed registration or enable more data-driven marketing and ROI from personalization and improved segmentation. Here is a look at the profile data contained within a social profile that users can choose to share with your site:
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 without sacrificing registration conversion rates. Social login shortens the registration process to a single click and gives you instant 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 lets your users broadcast content and activities from your site to their social networks, increasing brand advocacy and creating an effective source of qualified referral traffic to your site.
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.