David Kirkpatrick

Social Media Marketing: Social login or traditional website registration?

January 12th, 2012

Janrain, a social Web user management platform provider, recently released its Social Identity study with the research conducted by Blue Research.

The study involved a final sample size of 616, with respondents recruited by email and screened to ensure they either purchased a product online within the past 30 days, or read articles or watched video from major media outlets in the past 30 days.

A key element of the survey was finding out how respondents felt about using a social login — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. — instead of having to register individually at multiple websites.

Some of the results were very interesting:

  • 86% of respondents reported being bothered by the need to create new accounts at websites and said they would actually change their behavior:

–        54% might leave the site and not return

–        26% would go to a different site if possible

–        6% would just simply leave or avoid the site

–        14% would not complete the registration

  • 88% admitted to supplying incorrect information or leaving form fields incomplete (this result should come as no surprise to marketers). This figure is up from 76% in last year’s study
  • 90% admitted to leaving a website if they couldn’t remember their login details rather than taking the time to recover their login information. This figure is up from 45% in 2010

The study also found that even though website visitors are becoming more frustrated with traditional marketing, they are becoming more open to using social identities for website registration.

In fact, 77% responded that social login is “a good solution that should be offered,” with 41% preferring social login over creating a new user account or using a guest account.


Click to enlarge


Among that 77%:

  • 78% of social login fans have posted a comment or message to their social networks about a product or service they liked or thought others should know more about
  • 83% reported being influenced to consider buying new products or services based on positive social media comments
  • 69% report positive reviews might increase their likelihood to purchase a product or service
  • 82% seek out, or avoid, companies based on social media reviews


That’s a lot of pretty numbers, but what do they mean for marketers?

To help put this research into a marketing context, I had the chance to interview Larry Drebes, CEO, Janrain. Here is the result of that interview:


MarketingSherpa: From a marketing standpoint, registration is a key way to generate leads and have control over the data obtained. How would allowing for a social platform login benefit marketers? Can they mine the visitor’s profile on the platform for data?  

Larry Drebes: Allowing social login benefits marketers in a couple of essential ways:

  • Removing a registration barrier will increase conversion rates.
  • The data stored on a social network is typically more accurate and up-to-date compared with data entered on a website to get through a registration process quickly.
  • On the next visit to the site, the user will be able to re-enter quickly and not have to remember the unique username and password created on a site — increasing likelihood or future logged in sessions. And eliminating password reset expenses.
  • When the user logins with a social network identity, it is a completely transparent process and the user gives permission to the site to access specific parts of their profiled data. The marketer can then use that profile data for future marketing purposes: targeting, personalization, feeding other marketing programs such as email marketing.


MS: If marketers can mine the data, how do the different platforms —  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. — handle this?

LD: Each provider — Facebook, Google, etc. — stores different fields of data on the user. To see what is available by provider: (Visit this link and) just click on the provider icons on the right-hand side to view the data fields.


MS: From a privacy standpoint, this is getting one more step from a validated opt-in. Obviously the visitor is committing a conscious act, but do they really “get” what they are sharing here?

LD: The process is completely transparent to the user. Specific data fields are cited in the permissions screen.


MS: How do you think this fits into the concept of “frictionless sharing” and how that will have a negative impact on the entire social channel?  

LD: I think it is too soon to speculate about the long-term impact of “frictionless sharing” and overall adoption rate. I do think an important best practice in this area is to never surprise a user about what is posted or shared on their behalf to their Facebook wall. A clear permissions-based access process that is completely transparent and easy for the user to control is critical.


MS: This sounds like the focus is on consumer marketing. How do you think this might fit into B2B marketing?

LD: Actually, B2B marketers are becoming more interested in social login thanks to identity providers such as LinkedIn and Salesforce.com.

With LinkedIn as a provider option, the B2B marketer has the opportunity to tap into the professional social graph of prospects, and with Salesforce, receive a verified business email address. When coupled with Janrain Social Sharing, B2B marketers have an opportunity to further their reach in these networks, driving more qualified referrals back to their site.

  • Key indicators that social login is gaining traction:
  • Silverpop, a marketing technology provider that serves the B2B market, has integrated Janrain social login into its platform to give its customers the option to add social login to standard lead conversion activities such as a form to download a white paper.
  • B2B companies such as Docusign and Tungle have added social login.
  • Sites like the Business Journals that offer LinkedIn as a login are seeing a lift in registration rates.


How will social login fans react to marketing messages?

One additional question I had for Larry was, “Did you ask the survey participants how they would react to a marketing message from a company they used a social identity to register for?”

He responded that the survey included two questions that touched on that topic:

  • Q9. With ‘social login,’ consumers are given the choice to have a more personalized experience when they visit a website without needing to re-enter preferences, what they like and what they dislike, at each website they visit. In addition, this capability can eliminate the clutter of receiving ads and promotions for products or services that have no relevance to you. On a scale of one to 10, how attractive is this capability to you?

Fifty-one percent responded between seven and 10 on the scale, reporting they found the capability attractive. Twenty-five percent were neutral (five or six on the scale), and 24% reported the capability was not attractive to them (one to four on the scale).

  • Q12. If a company personalizes your experience and the information on their website by catering to your specific interests/preferences, how much more or less likely, if at all, are you to do the following?

50% – Return to website

46% – Buy products/services from website

38% – Recommend the website to others

33% – Make purchases in-store

(Image used by permission; courtesy of Janrain and Blue Research)


Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: Finding and winning hyper-social consumers

Social Media Marketing: 9 tactics for B2B social channel advertising

Measuring Social Media’s Contribution to the Bottom Line: 5 Tactics

Social Spam: Why you should clean out your LinkedIn and Facebook communities

Social Media Marketing: Analytics are free and plentiful, so use them

Social Media Marketing: Should Facebook host your landing page?

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

Categories: Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: , , , ,

  1. January 16th, 2012 at 11:19 | #1


    “MS: From a privacy standpoint, this is getting one more step from a validated opt-in. Obviously the visitor is committing a conscious act, but do they really “get” what they are sharing here?”

    “LD: The process is completely transparent to the user. Specific data fields are cited in the permissions screen.”

    This may be the case with their particular solution, but I balk at using Facebook as a login credential because it really isn’t clear to me (ever) exactly how much access I am giving. Yes, the login connector always tells me “by clicking agree you are allowing ______ access to your _____ and ______,” but having to think through what exactly I’m committing to is almost as challenging as creating a new user account.

  2. January 17th, 2012 at 13:29 | #2


    Thanks for the comment and your concerns are exactly why I asked Larry the privacy and frictionless sharing questions.

    Based on this research, it appears quite a few people are comfortable using their social identities for website logins and registrations, but I think in practice it is best to offer new visitors more than one option for login or registration — including both the traditional form fields (and I’d suggest keeping this pretty short) and social identity login.

    That way you reach the people who are happy using their Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. identity to register, and the people who are more leery about sharing that social data so freely.

  3. January 24th, 2012 at 16:53 | #3

    I know many people are concerned about social logins using Facebook because of privacy issues, but let’s not forget about Twitter. Twitter doesn’t store nearly as much of your personal information and might be a much more palatable social login option for those with privacy concerns.

  4. January 25th, 2012 at 16:12 | #4

    @David Kirkpatrick
    I think that Larry’s statement about total transparency is pretty ridiculous. First of all because Joe is completely right in saying that it is merely impossible to understand the overall implications of especially the Facebook logon, secondly because nearly every business that offers the Facebook logon asks for FAR too much data without giving me (the customer) the opportunity to deselect what I want to share with them. Just have a look at the Janrain provider guide page that you also referenced. https://rpxnow.com/docs/providers. That is actually pretty scary stuff …

    We are a long way from staying in control of our own data unluckily.

  5. January 25th, 2012 at 16:32 | #5

    Thanks for the additional comments, everyone.

    Hal, from a personal standpoint I agree that I would be much more comfortable using Twitter for a third-party login. Of course, from the marketing perspective, Twitter isn’t providing a lot of value for the easy login/registration on the third-party website.

    Thomas, you are quite correct in that this is a topic that deserves a lot more airtime and debate. In Larry’s defense, for the post I wanted to emphasize his ideas as an expert in the field, and not Janrain’s specific offering. As he explained it to me, an end-user interacting with his specific platform is shown what is being collected (listed in the chart you linked and in the post) and from requires a final “okay” before the login occurs and their data is collected by the third party website.

    And yes, I agree we are nowhere close to staying in control of our data right now.

    I try to cover privacy as often as possible, such as with these two Sherpa newsletter articles: “B2B Marketing: 5 privacy factors to consider when using marketing automation” (http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=32053) and “Online Behavioral Advertising: How to benefit from targeted ads in a world concerned with privacy” (http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=32058)

    On the specific social login topic, I wonder if a B2B application where the social platform for login is LinkedIn or Salesforce.com might be successful because the end user might be more willing to share professional information over the more personal information of Facebook.

  6. January 27th, 2012 at 11:14 | #6


    I wanted to chime in a few thoughts this morning. As this digest more I will have more as usual. One of many issues I have with today’s set-up of social login is that many people don’t think about the trade off they are making. When I look at say my teen god-daughter, do we really think she’s saying to herself that this social login will make my online experience more relevant? NO!, she’s just trying to log into a site using something she already has without needing to create a whole new profile. There isn’t enough education on the use of social media I think today. This goes for young and old users of the Internet.

    Another thought, many of us like myself keep most of our social media targeted at our personal lives and not B2B. My preferences in Facebook certainly don’t reflect my work. So for B2B sites that are asking me for my B2C social login aren’t not going to get a true measure of really who I am as a technologist. In my social profile I’m more of a dad, husband, and friend.

    Last thought for today, I worry that using these sort of technologies don’t give the user the proper notice needed to understand how their data will be used. To many companies jump on the social login bandwagon without knowing how to either adhere to the guidelines of social platforms in how they can and can’t use the data and at the same time aren’t usually telling the users in a hyper transparent manner that their social profile will be used to marketing to them

    Ok, another last thought. Just because I logged in socially does’t mean I want email. Just because I like something doesn’t give the marketer the right to contact me. Companies who want to use social logins and the data about the user NEED to ensure they obtain explicit permission to contact them.

    I’m not at all saying social logins are bad, but end-users should be given more notice as to what this means to them. That their personal profile data will be used for X vs assuming. Companies who want to use these sorts of technologies should consider first understand what that social platform will allow and not allow them to do AND should place easy to understand terms so the user can opt-in with the proper knowledge needed to make such a decision. Should also give them multiple choices on what data can be used or how they want to be contacted.

    ok, I’m done 🙂


  7. January 27th, 2012 at 11:38 | #7


    Many thanks for your thoughts on this topic. I enjoy getting expert commentary on these bleeding edge marketing issues.

    (Full disclosure and shameless plug — Dennis is the Chief Privacy and Security Officer at Eloqua and will be a panelist at the upcoming Email Summit in Las Vegas, February 7-10 http://www.meclabs.com/training/marketing-summit/email-summit-2012/)

  8. November 15th, 2012 at 22:08 | #8

    I really don’t have any idea about social login. But this is something I want to try on. We are a lead generation and appointment setting company, getting involve with the new clients is big a challenge to us. So I was thinking if we could have a login social page to our site, do you really think it can help us generate leads?


  9. February 27th, 2013 at 09:17 | #9

    Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. Development los angeles A corporate message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it appears to come from a trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself. Hence, this form of marketing is driven by word-of-mouth, meaning it results in earned media rather than paid media.

  10. July 3rd, 2013 at 05:20 | #10

    social media advertising identifies the process connected with attaining website traffic or interest via social media websites. Social media marketing software programs commonly concentrate on attempts to make content material which appeals to interest and encourages visitors to express that using their support systems.

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