Social Login 101

Social login benefits customers by offering a frictionless authentication process that lets users retain control of their preferences and privacy. At the same time, it benefits businesses by driving higher registration rates and providing access to rich first-party user data.

How It Works

Social login allows consumers to quickly and easily register for accounts and log in to your websites or mobile apps using their existing social media identities or pre-verified user accounts. By authenticating their identities with social login, users give brands permission-based access to the identity data housed within their social profiles. Today, there are more than 30 networks that consumers can use to authenticate their identities. These identity providers range from social networks to email and payment providers.

More Registrations, More Customers

Even if a consumer finds real value in a brand’s offerings, a lengthy registration form can overwhelm that perception and send him or her elsewhere in search of a more hassle-free experience. This reality is driving the increased adoption of social network login, since signing in socially is a quick and easy two-click process.

Most people find this process more trustworthy than filling out a form, since they retain control of their own profile information and preferences and choose what information they share. It also instantaneously enables a more personalized experience, since new customers are addressed by name and content can be tailored to their provided interests.

Social login is especially important to implement for mobile applications—registration forms are even less appealing on a five inch screen—and delivering an excellent mobile experience today is absolutely essential. According to Gartner, “By 2017, U.S. customers’ mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile commerce revenue in the U.S. to 50% of all U.S. digital commerce revenue.”

Better Customer Data

People don’t always provide accurate information in on-site registration fields, and even when they do, they may not update that information in a timely manner—if at all—when it changes. This can lead to incorrect or stale profiles that are of little use for personalizing campaign messaging or on-site recommendations.

Someone who registers with the name Roger Federer and claims an age of 45—but is actually a 28 year-old woman—probably isn’t going to respond to shaving club offers, and will likely be offput by the brand trying to sell them to her. When a user logs in socially to a site, they grant permission for that business to access complex and accurate first-party data such as preferences, background, contact information and more, giving brands a much richer view of their customers than static registration fields can provide.

It’s important to note that since social networks require a verifiable email address for membership, their users are typically genuine, with profiles containing legitimate data. In addition, most people tend to change and update their social profiles often, providing insights that enable timely and personalized campaigns and recommendations.

Improved Privacy & Security

A recent sweeping API update by Facebook reflects that maintaining control over privacy and personal preferences remains an important concern among consumers when it comes to their social identities. This is why social networks and other identity providers (IdPs) maintain strict privacy policies that every business must adhere to in order to gain access to user profile data.

Traditional user registration can also leave your business susceptible to data security risks caused by consumers using the same password across multiple sites. Social login shifts the burden of identity protection, data security and sign-in support to major networks like Facebook and Google. These identity providers boast state-of-the-art security systems with features like remote logout and unauthorized activity detection.

Summing Up

Implementing social login functionality addresses important challenges for digital businesses while offering these valuable benefits:

  • A simpler, more trustworthy registration and login experience that drives new account creation and encourages ongoing engagement and brand loyalty
  • Richer, more accurate data and dynamic, progressive profiles that enable marketing, sales and service to deliver more relevant cross-channel experiences
  • Offloading of risk to specialized identity providers with advanced security measures and well-monitored privacy policies

By David Kerin