Jun 30 2011

How to Leverage Social Login (Part 1)

Published by at 8:06 am under Uncategorized

This post is cross-posted from the Janrain Blog.

Social login is a simple concept, with profound implications. When a user logins into any website using an existing online identity, there is immediate value for both the the user and the website.
For users, the ease of logging in without filling out a long profile form and the convenience of not needing to remember passwords is a clear benefit. For websites, among the many benefits is the information that users share offers an opportunity to make the site experience more relevant.
From a technical standpoint, the process of integrating Janrain Engage to enable social login into your site is very straightforward. Most of the effort in the integration will be around determining the best possible user experience for your community.
Defining Reasons to Register
First, and most important, you must clearly define why a user would register on your site in the first place. This critical step is often the most overlooked. Your users are rational economic actors, and as such, will evaluate the trade-offs of every exchange. They will weigh what they are giving up (personal information) for what they are receiving in return. Even when there is no money involved, your users still need to find more value in what they receive from registration, than the personal information they are giving up.
There are a number of ways to provide value for a registration. Here are some ideas to start you off:
  • Premium content: Some websites keep high-value content behind a registration wall. There are many ways to build value into content, like creating long-form reports, high-value videos, or early access to regular content. For content-driven sites, this is the easiest way to build value for registered users.
  • Contests and promotions: Short-term contests with valuable prizes are a great way to build registrations. Remember that the prizes don’t necessarily have to be expensive, but they must be valuable for your audience. An in-person meeting with a famous singer doesn’t cost anything, but has a huge value to fans.
  • Community: Access to message boards, comments, or your branded social network are all valuable add-ons to your users’ experience – and are sometimes the primary experience of your website. In those cases, it’s natural to register in order to contribute.
The type of experiences you put behind a registration will dictate the type of users who will register. Your most loyal fans will want access to premium content; more casual users may be interested in a contest (depending on the prize). Consider your goals in relation to the 1/9/90 rule: in general, 1% of users create content; 9% will comment on those creations; and 90% will be passive readers.

Bicycling.com offers compelling reasons for users to register and create a profile, like access to a training log.

Registration Process
Next, consider the actual experience of registering on your site. Where should the registration button be placed? Are there events that launch a registration flow automatically, like when a user clicks “Submit” after writing a comment. The launch experience will determine how likely a user is to abandon their registration. Make sure the benefits of registering are clearly defined right away in that process.
Finally, consider how much work it is for your user to complete their registration. You want the process to be as seamless as possible. This is your opportunity to leverage all of the data from a social login. If possible, do not require your users to create a separate “Display Name.” If there are certain fields that you require, like email address, only offer identity providers that provide that data to you.
If you must collect additional fields, they can be automatically pre-populated using the social data you have collected. Any additional information you require could cause your users to abandon the registration process. So, it’s crucial to only require items that are actually required. Don’t lose the good data they are providing by harassing them for one more item as it will cause drop off.

Go Try It On pre-populates social data into their registration form, allowing users to finish their registration quickly.

So far, we’ve discussed the whys and hows of user registration. Next week, I’ll talk more about how to make advanced registration and profiles more useful for your users, and for your business.

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