Four Factors to Consider When Implementing Social Sign-on

Written by Scott NesbittJune 14, 2011

You’ve decided to implement social sign-on on your website. That’s potentially a good move. However, there are several factors that you need to consider before implementing social sign-on.

Let’s take a look at four factors that you should consider when implementing social sign-on.

Is social sign-on right for your business?

Just as, for example, a blog or a podcast might not be the right fit for a company, social sign-on might not be the best choice for your online business. There are any number of reasons for that, but one of the main ones is your social media marketing efforts (or lack thereof). You just might not be getting customers and sales from that channel.

If, on the other hand, your social media marketing efforts push a considerable amount of traffic to your site then you should seriously consider implementing social sign-on. That also applies if your social media marketing campaigns are picking up and you’re anticipating a spike in new customers and prospects.

But only consider implementing social sign-on your customers are interested in using it. How do you find this out? By asking your customers -- whether through a survey on your site or by contacting them directly. You might also want to consider a short trial to see whether or not registrations and logins increase or decrease.

Choosing the right social sign-on solution

Many sites use Facebook Connect as their social sign-on solution. That’s fine, but what if a substantial block of your customers doesn’t have a Facebook account? And what if they aren’t really interested setting one up?

Choosing a single point of entry is almost as bad as using traditional web-based registration. At worst, you’re locking a number of customers and prospects out out. At best, you’re making things difficult for them.

If possible, you should offer at least two or three ways for customers to use social sign-on -- for example, popular sites About.me and Klout allow users to log in using Twitter or Facebook Connect. Once again, though, you should turn to your customers to see how what other services they’re using and how they’re logging in to your site.

Ease of integration

Chances are your website is built on a common and well-supported web development framework. Or you might be using a mishmash of technologies. In either case, there’s no guarantee that integrating social sign-on into your website will be easy, or even painless.

It will, obviously, depend on the solution that you choose and how you plan to customize it. Drop-in solutions -- like HybridAuth and several for Drupal -- exist for a number of popular web development frameworks. Gigya’s Social Login is one product widely used and highly regarded.

Even though such solutions are available, take into account the time required to integrate them with your website. If you have staff developers, you’ll have to take some off other projects to do the job. If you’re outsourcing the integration, then you’ll need to carefully budget both time and money for that project.

Don’t forget mobile

More and more online vendors and web services are going mobile. Customers are starting to demand it. If your social sign-on solution doesn’t have even basic support for mobile devices -- smartphones and tablets -- then you’re probably alienating a portion of your existing customer base. And you’ll be turning off potential customers in the future.

Ensure that the social sign-on solution that you go with now only supports multiple devices, but also multiple mobile platforms. Working with just the iPhone and iPad isn’t enough. You need to take into account people with Blackberries, Android-powered devices, and those with phones running Windows Phone.

Summing up

Implementing social sign-on can be a boon to your online business and an excellent complement to your social media marketing efforts. And, as a previous article discussed, social sign-on had the potential to drive customer engagement.

Bringing social sign-on to your website isn’t a small step. It will take some time and planning. You will definitely need to consider the four factors that this article discussed. There are probably a few more factors to consider, too. Speaking of which, can you think of any? If so, share them by leaving a comment.

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