Social Logins are Shaping the Future of Digital Identity

For consumers, social logins have provided a solution to fragmented digital identities, while enabling businesses to provide a better, more personalized user experience.

Social logins are on the rise. With the proliferation of digital lives and identities, people have grown increasingly frustrated with the challenges of managing multiple profiles across the Web. Social logins have provided a solution to this fragmentation for consumers, while enabling businesses to provide a better, more personalized user experience.

On the consumer side, social logins enable people to have a more secure experience using an established identity, without having to create a new profile and remember yet another password.

On the business side, social logins provide data that enable a better user experience. This data could include anything from birthdays to interests and help give businesses a better understanding of the customer.

While consumers want frictionless identity management, according to Jamie Beckland, vice president of Marketing at Janrain, they also have a strong tendency toward maintaining multiple digital personas. For instance, Janrain data indicates that LinkedIn is most popular among B2B users, likely because of its increasing content marketing offerings and focus as a professional social network.

Facebook is a popular login for music and entertainment sites, which Beckland attributes to the social site being well aligned with music apps. He also notes that older audiences prefer Google, likely for its utilitarian value, whereas Facebook is considered more family oriented.

This managing of digital identity is in keeping with the psychology of how people manage their identities in their non-digital lives as well, Beckland said:

We act very differently around different peer groups and different social settings. In some ways, [managing our digital identity] is the same idea: we’re highlighting different aspects of our personalities.

In this way, social logins are like a partnership between businesses and consumers. Indeed, Beckland says that social logins are expanding the idea of social media and shaping the future of digital identity.

He pointed to a similar phenomenon to the proliferation of the “like” button, and how that became a signal that impacted what showed up in the Facebook news feed. Social logins provide another signal with insight into what social media users really care about and how they engage with certain websites and brands, Beckland noted:

Getting a like or a retweet on a piece of content is a useful signal but it’s a very isolated signal. If I can understand that you’re going back to the same one or two websites and you log in twice a week, all of a sudden, as a social network I understand that you have a very deep engagement and enrichment with that brand.

Beckland said that once in a while, some new innovation or modality will catch fire, and these are usually consumer driven. Over time, social networks get a sense of what consumers actually want and take over driving the user experience in an effort to increase interaction and engagement.

And while there are currently just a few big players in the social login space, Beckland predicts a rise in niche logins. As more options become available, businesses will have to face the challenge of picking which identity providers are best suited for their target audience, he said:

Right now the size of the audience is really winning. One of the things we’re going to see in the future is that the quality of the engagement is going to be much more important.

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