Making Web Sites Social: Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer Discusses the Keys to Success in Social Media & Technology

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...May 3, 2011

Gigya, what we’ve referred to as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of social plugins, continues to offer new features for making websites social that align with client needs and the latest trends and innovations. Early to the social scene in 2006, the platform was a trailblazer in a sea of individual plug-ins and remains so today leading the social CRM pack with a lion’s share of impressive clients to show for it.

Utilizing SaaS-based technology and open standards, Gigya consolidates social features and provides a single API that aggregates social APIs for single sign-on and authentication on any platform. In layman’s terms, Gigya makes websites social by connecting them to social networks and providing sharing and engaging features, analytics and support along the way.

Recently promoted to CEO from his previous position as VP of Operations & Strategy, Patrick Salyer took time out of his busy schedule to discuss how Gigya helps mid-size and large enterprises convert new users, build brand loyalty and capitalize on the social commerce trend.

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Social is the new search, in the event you haven’t heard this enough. It no longer suffices to slap on a few social apps on your website or blog and hope for the best. A meticulously planned method of converting users to new customers or members and leveraging their networks is at the core of success (not just ‘social’ success, either).

Among Gigya’s primary components is its Social Sign-on service, serving as the core of its product to which all other features are inextricably connected.  With conversion rates tied to a streamlined registration process, the easiest way to accomplish the task is to offer users a Social Sign-on option using their networks of choice.

“Change is the one constant in social media,” Salyer resolutely told us in a recent phone interview, emphasizing the importance of multiple APIs for sign-on. “A few years ago, MySpace was the forerunner but today Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are leading the pack. The networks that matter to people change, as well as ways that we tap into them.” To address the evolving social landscape, Gigya offers some twenty different social identity providers via a single API. That’s something that could wreak havoc on a site seeking to use individual plugins without the use of a single, ‘super’ sign-on solution.

“We simplify the process by providing a suite of solutions that make a site social,” Salyer says. “And we handle all of those complicated and evolving connections while providing value added features, maintenance and support.” Gigya helps to take care of the development process by providing coding, documentation, ideas and best practices, things that can eat substantial time and money for many organizations.

That suite of social features consists not just of Social Sign-on, but of Sharing tools, Engagement features such as Comments and a site-based Activity Feed, and now Game Mechanics. All of the features are interoperable and share a common reporting and analytics system that, together with the Gigya client services team, ensures clients are getting the most from the suite.

Where does Facebook and its half a billion users fall into the mix? “Facebook matters enormously, to be sure,” Salyer tells us. “But the average website sees about 50% of its users connecting with Facebook. The other half is using other social networks like Twitter or identity providers like Google or Yahoo. This ties into how we all cultivate unique relationships and personas on each network we use.”

Those networks not only vary by interest but they also by geographical location as some countries and regions prefer home-grown networks. Coca-Cola, FIFA and Nike are just a few examples of Gigya clients that host regional websites for their extensive international user-base. Gigya keeps their finger on the pulse of international social habits while its 100% open platform integrates with web and mobile applications and platforms anywhere.  

Gigya works with each of its unique clients to extract powerful results from its social platform. Among those, TurboTax sought to derive conversion and loyalty results previously untapped by traditional forms of advertising. Utilizing Gigya’s social sharing features and profile data to effectively turn static users into living, breathing brand evangelists on Facebook, TurboTax successfully encouraged users to share their reviews with people in similar tax situations while driving new users of the product.

Businesses are beginning to appreciate the social space as a conduit for commerce. After all, Facebook did trump Google as the main traffic source to major portals. Better yet for social CRM, the traffic derived from social networks is proving to be higher quality than traditional search engine traffic, driving users deeper into the sites they choose to visit.

“Organizations are really seeing the importance now of being socially connected. For some, they see more traffic from Facebook than they do from Google,” Salyer says when asked if organizations understand the implications. “The way they focus on SEO, they are now focusing equally on social media, hiring strategists and trying to understand it.”

A recent report by Booz & Co. expects social commerce to rise 6-fold by 2015, with Facebook accounting for much of that expected growth. Numerous other studies point to the importance of user-generated reviews and friends’ recommendations on buying decisions.

“When people think of social commerce, they think of creating a store on Facebook,” says Salyer. “Obviously, that’s something that retail sites should look into, but there’s more to social commerce than that. There is an interesting opportunity to tie into sites that already exist.”

To do that, Gigya works with its clients to drive commerce by its innovative sharing features. With its latest addition, a commerce plug-in suite which integrates customer ratings, reviews, recommendations and unified reporting, the platform has rounded out their extensive social CRM toolkit.

In today’s world, CEOs, brand managers, social strategists and marketers recognize the impact of social networks on the bottom line. Unfortunately, organizational leaders overwhelmingly cite inefficiency as the largest burden to overcome to achieve measurable success. With its streamlined approach to social optimization carefully cultivated in 2006, Gigya has become the solution for many of the world’s leading brands, prompting it to continually iterate and add features as needs change.

“At the end of the day, organizations need to control brand experience on their domain by allowing social network users to share reviews, purchases and ratings on their website,” says Salyer.

For further information on Gigya’s social suite solutions, visit Gigya.com.

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