Enterprise Communications

Forget Your Password? Social Login Is There to Help

by Jake Wengroff 01 Feb 2012
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This blogpost first appeared on Social Media Today.


Janrain and Gigya Ease the Pain of Password Amnesia with Social Login, While Providing Rich Profile Data to Publishers and Brands

No doubt you’ve visited some of your favorite websites and forgot your password. And we all know that the ‘Forgot your password?’ is still another nuisance because it requires having to create a new password – which hopefully you’ll remember.

Enter social login: the option to ‘Sign in with Facebook’ or ‘Sign in with Twitter’.

I recently had a chance to catch up with the two largest providers of this social plugin functionality, Janrain and Gigya, to discuss what this means for marketing, publishing, and beyond.

For some insight into consumer adoption of social login, Janrain conducted a study with Blue Research, and learned that a whopping 86% of consumers are bothered by registering at a website, and four in five people are frustrated by the need to create new accounts when registering on a website. Further, 88% admit to having given incorrect information or left forms incomplete when creating a new account at a website (I admit: I’ve done this in the past), and 9 in 10 people (versus 45% in the 2010 study) admit they have left a website if they forgot their password or log-in info, instead of trying to recover their password.

The ability to login using an already-familiar username and password – one’s social network credentials, such as those for Facebook or Twitter – could ease the pain. Indeed, according to the Janrain study, almost eight in ten people want social login to be offered as an alternative.

The Bigger Picture, and Bigger Data
But for marketers, social login is only one small part of the story, as I learned from these companies.

Social login, along with its associated plugins, feeds, and analytics, provides access to a rich trove of data which can be used to fuel marketing strategies, advertising creative and ad serving, and content and product recommendations. As we all know, feedback, opinions, and endorsements drive sales, and what better to draw from than a user’s social graph?

Social login contributes to a growing set of solutions known as social CRM. While in traditional CRM, sales and customer service professionals are responsible for updating the database and populating it with information that leads to more sales or higher customer service levels, social CRM uses social media, and the information collected from public-facing social networks, to capture data about customers and prospects. Analytics are added to this data to predict behavior, and then the company can decide to engage, interact, and ultimately drive them to sales channels.

Counting tweets or Facebook wall posts certainly helps companies understand how their brand and products are received in the market (I recently completed a study on the social media monitoring solutions market, which should be published shortly), but having access to the complete social profiles of the people doing the tweeting or Facebook updating is far, far richer. As such, Janrain and Gigya are on the forefront of the social CRM revolution. As they have advanced analytics products beyond social login, they are well-positioned to integrate their solutions and add a layer of data that can drive overall marketing, content, and product strategy.

‘Social profile data is an emerging category of data, and delivers more insights into registrants and clients,’ notes Lisa Hannah, director of marketing for Janrain.

Clearly, marketers have a significant opportunity to increase conversion rates and online engagement by replacing traditional registration with social login. Both Janrain and Gigya have data about increased engagement, interactivity, and conversion by users who have brought their entire social graph into their web experience. Gigya has an infographic here about social login and site engagement.

However, if the social networks’ API’s are free (for the most part), why would a company need to engage a provider like Janrain or Gigya? ‘This is not set it and forget it technology,’ explains Victor White, senior marketing manager for Gigya. ‘Clients do not have full-time developers or engineers to ensure that this technology can be implemented and maintained, and it saves them a lot of time in development resources.’ Both companies’ pricing is on a sliding-scale SaaS.

Not for Everyone
The downside, of course, is that not everyone uses social login – perhaps because they are OK with remembering yet another username and password (23% of the respondents in the Janrain survey think that websites should not offer social login instead of a traditional registration process), or they are aware that their social data would be shared and are concerned with privacy.

Another downside is that in certain industries or sectors, social sign-in just doesn’t work. Would you sign in to your online bank account with Facebook? Hardly.  

The B2B space will see a slower uptake of social login, as personal information scraped from a personal Facebook profile most likely holds little value in B2B or professional services markets. However, a ‘Sign in with LinkedIn’ functionality is available, and while we haven’t really seen much of this – yet – I expect we will. Salesforce.com also has an open API, and interestingly, a ‘Sign in with Salesforce’ option might also become pervasive in the B2B space.

Social login is global, too. Gigya has relationships with Mixi (Japan), Orkut (Brazil), and VKontakte (now rebranded VK.com, in Russia) for access to social profiles and data. Fascinatingly, Chinese social network RenRen has an open API, and is also on board. (So much for the secrecy of social networking in China.)

Finally, the ultimate purveyor of social CRM is perhaps Google. With the launch of Google+, and including data combed from activities on YouTube, Google Docs, Picasa, Maps, and other applications and sites – all through the ‘social login’ of a Gmail account -- Google is building perhaps one of the largest social CRM databases. As such, Google had social login figured out quite some time ago.


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