Research Note: Integrate Social Networks with your Corporate Website with ‘Social Sign On’

Trend:  Corporate Websites and Social Networks Begin Integration
For over three years, it’s been argued that corporate websites were irrelevant since they were separate from consumers who were making decisions with each other on social networks.  Since then, we’ve discussed a vision of how corporate websites and social networks would integrate (roadmap: see these 8 stages of integration) and today, the tools and technologies are finally here to make that happen.

There are at least a few points of entry to integrate your corporate website: 1) Extending your corporate websites to social networks, 2) Allowing for customers voices through reviews and ratings, 3) Aggregating the discussion back on your own website.  Yet, despite the options, I’d like to discuss an underlying technology that is going to be core to the infrastructure of these programs going forward: Social Sign On.  While we’re risking ‘social washing’ all terms old into something new, let’s discuss why enabling social logins from third parties makes sense –and when it doesn’t.

Problem Identification: Corporate Websites Detached from Customers
There are a number of specific disruptions now that social networks have gained prominence with customers, the include:

  • Consumers and customers are already connected to each other using social technologies and making decisions about products and the brand is not involved. While the corporate website is still key for factual product information, it’s safe to assume that consumers will continue to lean on each other to make decisions –not listen to the bombardment of marketese.
  • Furthermore, the information consumers enter into the antiquated registration pages is likely inaccurate percentage-wise compared to the level of accuracy in self-updated profiles in Facebook and other social networks.
  • Managing these multiple login systems from all these social networks is cumbersome due to changing APIs, protocols.
  • Companies that simply put a “Follow me on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook” without registration are doing themselves a disadvantage as they throw away hard earned traffic to a social network.
  • Lastly, don’t expect your consumers to be using a variety of social networks and email platforms –they are not evenly distributed, surprisingly, Yahoo has more login than Facebook logins.

“Social Sign On” Defined
Social Sign On enables website visitors to authenticate to your website using their existing credentials, such as Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, etc.  As a result, users don’t have to initially register to your website in order to verify their identity.   Social Sign On is a subset of Social CRM’s 5Ms, read the report to understand the greater strategy required.

[Social Sign On enables visitors to register to your website using their preferred credentials increasing the opportunity for contextual content, website engagement, and conversion]

Value Statement
Social Sign On offers a variety of benefits:

  • Increase conversion rate as users use existing Social Network logins (in a few clicks) rather than filling out long registration pages.
  • Opportunity for increased engagement as users can quickly identify which one of their friends has also visited that same website and interact with them.
  • More accurate contextual information as first time users information can be used to match relevant content, media, products, and even advertisements.
  • Reduced time in marketing/sales funnel as prospects quickly can be served up relevant products and even shopping carts of peer recommended products within seconds.

Downsides and Limitations

  • Industries in a regulated space may have significant policies and user privacy to overcome before ever implementing these systems.  Expect that lifestyle marketing efforts will be the first foothold for these industries –but not their core activity website.
  • While Social Sign On may be key for upper funnel activity, don’t expect it to fully replace credit card registrations as ecommerce may still require a registration page to collect credit cards, shipping addresses, and other detailed information.  This, could, overtime go away as we’re seeing Facebook snuggle up to payment systems like Paypal in recent quarters.
  • Reliance on a third party for registration creates additional failure, and in this case is known as ‘Authentication Rot‘ (This was added post-publication via Carmen Delessio)

Impacts: Future Trends

  • Potentially less data collected by brands, as users can control how much information is passed from the social network profile to the corporate website.
  • Expect this trend to continue and most major consumer lead corporate websites will have one form or another of Social Sign On within a few years –the trend that the ‘power shift to consumer’ continues.
  • Expect this term “Social Sign On” to fade into the background as we just use ‘logins’ for all of our interactions in the digital space.
  • Registration pages go away…much to the approval of consumers.
  • Single Sign On systems don’t go away they simple aggregate this new level of data.

Primary Vendors

Case Examples and Research

  • Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs “Docs.comuses Facebook connect as it’s “active directory” to allow members to login and connect with their real friends.  An interesting deployment as it assumes that we use office collaboration with our actual Facebook network.
  • Levi’s deployed Facebook’s “Like” button which increased conversion rate, and serves up recommended products from friends after a few clicks.
  • Citysearch using Janrain’s ‘Engage’ and has increased the amount of content on Facebook using the connection technology, read the PDF for details or more of Janrain’s case examples.
  • Gigya offers a best practices guide on increasing registrations using Social Sign On technology (PDF).
  • Gigya has conducted a survey with a third party to find out The value of Social Sign On (PDF) and has a myriad of graphs and user awareness demand data in this report.
  • Sears.com has integrated community right onto their homepage, and also offer a variety of ways to login and register, such as Facebook. After connecting with Facebook, users are prompted to enter their email, zip code, and create a login name. What’s interesting is that request for email is still required to complete Social Sign On, a hybrid model. (I added this on Sept 29,2010)

Develop a Roadmap for Social Integration Using the ’8 Stages Framework’
My research indicates this is an undeniable trend, that corporate websites must integrate social networks to increase the relevancy and interaction of their websites.   Use the 8 stages of corporate website integration frameworks as your roadmap –don’t have a plan before jumping into this space.   Consumer facing companies should look at their customers socialgraphics to first identify which social networks they should allow for integration of, yet be inclusive by using a Social Sign On feature which allows for consumers to register using a variety of login options.

  • Pingback: Research Note: Integrating Social Networks with your Corporate Website with ‘Social Sign On’ « Savvyhua

  • Anonymous

    OpenID is currently being used by Google, Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, Flickr, Blogger, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, NTT Docomo, Yahoo Japan, Mixi, Hyves, and others. OAuth is being used by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Microsoft uses LiveID and soon will be offering Messenger Connect. Consumers generally care more about the functionality and reliability of the service, not the underlying technology. Companies deploying Social Sign On should try to support a number of ID providers to cover the range of preferences and demographics of their customers/members. There’s a summary of what services are offered by each ID provider at https://rpxnow.com/docs/providers

  • Anonymous

    OpenID is currently being used by Google, Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, Flickr, Blogger, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, NTT Docomo, Yahoo Japan, Mixi, Hyves, and others. OAuth is being used by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Microsoft uses LiveID and soon will be offering Messenger Connect. Consumers generally care more about the functionality and reliability of the service, not the underlying technology. Companies deploying Social Sign On should try to support a number of ID providers to cover the range of preferences and demographics of their customers/members. There’s a summary of what services are offered by each ID provider at https://rpxnow.com/docs/providers

  • Pingback: Research Note: Integrate Social Networks with your Corporate Website with ‘Social Sign On’ « Savvyhua

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    A question came in over Twitter:

    “@jowyang re: Social Sign On: other than market penetration, how is it different from OpenID or Microsoft Passport?”

    http://twitter.com/#!/craigalberino/status/25698770610

    My response was that a proper “Social Sign On” vendor should broker and manage all of those IDs and more so the website owner doesn't have to. Furthermore the vendor should add new IDs to the options as time advances forward.

  • http://twitter.com/jfbauer John Bauer

    In considering baby steps to leverage social sign on and speaking from an IT security/traditional single sign on perspective, it might be helpful to consider social sign on as a “step” in the user authentication process. Social Sign On is a “weak” step similar to device or geo-location based authentication, but it is a level of authentication that corporate/brand sites should leverage as this article astutely points out. I see the traditional web site security and authentication models in need of a re-look at what has been the typical implementation pattern to date.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Agreed John

    I see some companies using this as the 'first date' with prospects that visit the corporate website –and as the relationships advances towards conversion –they may shift to a regular registration page.

    The difference is, you won't have to ask the user for name and profile information as it could be pre-populated based on social profile information.

  • http://twitter.com/jfbauer John Bauer

    Yes, I was thinking of pre-population as the segue from weak to stronger authentication in an enrollment/registration application/process … just didn't write my thoughts down above. Pre-populating but allowing the user to review/change prior to final registration should improve data accuracy and user convenience. Plus, building in some checks to the login process should further help keep personal information in sync. “We noticed you changed your address in Facebook, would you like to review/confirm that new address with us?” … or something to that effect.

  • http://www.drewhawkins.org Drew Hawkins

    These are good points and considerations for consumer-targeted websites. How about in the B2B space? Do you think that these connect plug-ins still provide the same value for a B2B company website?

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks John, if you do write it down, leave a link here in the comments. (sometimes Disqus witholds it so let me know if it doesn't appear)

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    No doubt the first opportunities we'll see are in the B2C consumer space –but don't discount how LinkedIn is indeed a B2B based network.

  • briankissel

    Coupling Social Sign On with Social Publishing can create even more value for website operators and their customers/members. Once a customer logs onto your website, then takes an action (blog comment, survey, product review or purchase, download, view video, etc.), its a prime opportunity to have them share their experiences with friends and colleagues on social networks. By sharing their experiences with friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo, MySpace, etc. you turn your customers into company/brand ambassadors. These referral links drive highly qualified traffic to your website, improve SEO, and project your brand. Additionally, referral visitors can be quickly and easily registered using Social Sign On, creating a virtuous cycle of benefit for all the participants.

  • http://twitter.com/bunchball bunchball

    Another great way to integrate social elements into your corporate site is with basic gaming dynamics. Using basic online gamification solutions you can drive participation, engagement, loyalty and revenue.

  • http://twitter.com/408jay Jason Lackey

    Not sure that I want the likes of Zuck to be playing the role of LDAP server for the world.

  • http://twitter.com/408jay Jason Lackey

    Hi Brian, I notice you just bought a new lockset, burglar alarm and a high end stereo system, all of which you “liked”. I also note you are getting ready to take a vacation, something on your wall about “can't wait to trade the cube for the beaches of Hawaii come Friday”. Saturday me and the boys will be by with the white van. Oh, yes, from the pics of your family that Zuck tricked you into revealing (or maybe you just friended me, falling for the ruse about how we met in a bar) I have GPS coordinates to you house.

    Enjoy the beach!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    It's already happening, within months they were touting 4000 connections. Expect more now. This is how they'll monetize: Facebook everywhere at everytime.

    Yet it won't be Zuck only, the rest of the email and social network players will also be in the game.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    I can see a new insurance product hitting the market for the social network active.

  • http://twitter.com/lhaus Liza Hausman

    Great post Jeremiah. Note that the trend, at least for consumer trends, is away from companies issuing new universal IDs, so that the “brokering” that a company like Gigya does is to make it easier for websites to accept a user's existing social identity, not issue a new one.

  • Bas Reus

    This is truly a trend like you have written about some time ago.
    A question, what do you mean by “don’t have a plan before jumping into this space”?

    Isn't a plan (or roadmap in this case) a necessity? Or do I interpret this wrong?

    Thanks,
    Bas

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Bas

    Many companies are integrating social media into their corporate website without a plan. As a result any company who puts a 'Follow me on twitter” and links away without getting return traffic from those social networks is doing it without a clear vision –at least in my opinion.

  • Bas Reus

    Ok thanks, I interpreted this wrong, my bad. Jumping on the bandwagon without a plan is not adding any value to anybody. We agree :)

  • http://timbursch.com timbursch

    Do you think we will see a Social ID, similar to OpenID? It makes sense to have one central identity that plugs into sites as you are browsing.

  • http://myindigolives.wordpress.com/ Ellie K

    Thank you Brian. That was a superb reference link you provided. I've never seen that info summarized neatly in one place. I have been trying to keep track of it in an MS Word doc, always playing catch-up!

  • laxjustin21

    The social networking aspect has just really exploded. it's all gone beyond anything i'd ever expected.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisjangelov chrisjangelov

    The second link to a Gigya document is broken. The “f” in the file extension is missing. Should be
    http://info.gigya.com/rs/gigya/images/SSO-MarketResearch.pdf

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Chris, I corrected

  • Pingback: pligg.com

  • http://www.friendstagger.com Tag Your Friends

    Google Friend Connect is a service that allows you to create the social functions of your site allows people to register and participate, directly on your site! People can join the Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account, and interact with your site, inviting friends, means of travel or make comments.

  • http://www.friendstagger.com Tag Your Friends

    Google Friend Connect is a service that allows you to create the social functions of your site allows people to register and participate, directly on your site! People can join the Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account, and interact with your site, inviting friends, means of travel or make comments.

  • Pingback: Integrate Social Networks with your Corporate Website with ‘Social Sign On’ « ADTELLIGENCE Wiki

  • http://www.jmawebconsulting.com Web Consulting

    Nice publish.I love how you start after which conclude your ideas. Thank you for these details .I truly many thanks for work, continue the good work

  • Anonymous

    cgvn

  • http://www.bostonparkplaza.com/ Boston Park Plaza Hotel

    I can see a new insurance item reaching the industry for the public networking dynamic.

  • Pingback: Join PayPal and Gigya at Paypal X Innovate 2010 for the Future of Social Identity and Payments [DISCOUNT CODE] « Gigya's Blog