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Is social login the answer to annoying and disruptive user registrations?

When you arrive at a site that asks you to register for an account before you can access certain content or functionality, does that drive you away?

A recent research report shows that a site that requires users to register does just that, drives users away. On the flipside, the same report shows that about half of all users are attracted by personalization capabilities on a site.

So, on the one hand, we don’t want to register but, on the other, we want personalization.

How can you deal with that in a way that finds a balance between the two? Perhaps social login is the answer.

First, the numbers

In Baynote’s 2nd annual holiday shopping survey, published January 2012, almost 80% of respondents said they have some issues with sharing personal information in order to get a more personalized shopping experience.

Only 20.8% said they would have no problem giving up some information in return for personalization. Although this is a slight change towards customers being more comfortable giving up personal information compared to the previous year, it still means there is a definite issue here that anyone developing and running a website needs to think about.

In another study, this one by Janrain, we can find some more numbers concerning the willingness of users to give up personal information in order to get personalized content, information or functionality. Let’s look at some of the key numbers:

  • 86% of users are bothered by having to create a new account when registering on a website.
  • 54% may leave the site and possibly not return.
  • 88% of users admit to having given incorrect information when creating a new account on a website.
  • 88% of users have left forms incomplete when creating a new account at a website.
  • 90% admit they have left a website if they forgot their password or login info, instead of going through the process of answering security questions or re-setting their password.

So, users are not too happy to create a new account to register with a website. But if a website offers personalization options, users are more likely to return, buy from the website, and recommend the site to others:

This paints a clear picture: users are willing to put up with a certain degree of registration but are likely to leave your site quickly and go somewhere else if it’s too intrusive or complicated.

So how do you find the balance between offering the personalization that users want without imposing too much of the registration headaches and annoyances they want to be without?

A possible remedy: social media login

The solution to this dilemma seems to be to make the registration process as simple as possible. Of course, there are plenty of suggestions for how to make your registration form less annoying and more streamlined, but one option that is arguably becoming increasingly popular is social login.

Social login basically means using a social media account like Facebook or Twitter to login to a site. Since most users already have an account with one of the big social media networks, they already have an account to get access to your site. They typically need to allow the app, in this case your site, access to their social media network, but that’s a process of a few clicks, far from the complexity of even a simple new account registration form.

The same study by Jarain we referenced earlier also shows that users are willing to let websites use social login to speed up registration. In fact, users even encourage websites to do this.

Some more key numbers from Jarain’s study, this time pertaining to social login:

  • 77% of users believe that websites should offer them the opportunity to use a social network identity to use to log in to the site.
  • 41% of users would prefer to use a social login.
  • 51% of the users surveyed say that social login’s personalization capability is attractive to them.
  • 50% of users say that if a website offers a personalization of their experience, they are more likely to return to the site.

This clearly indicates that most users would be happy to see social login implemented on your site, because it gives them a simpler login procedure, and they can still be offered the personalization they’re looking for.

How did you find the balance?

Joel Spolsky noted in 2003, “Small software implementation details result in big differences in the way the community develops, behaves, and feels.” If you could make a small software implementation on your website and support social login, wouldn’t you do it? Especially if it means that more users will hang around your site, make purchases, and return in the future.

If you run a site where users can have accounts, how did you find the balance between user registration and personalization on your site? And is social login something you have implemented already or do you plan to include it on your site in the future?

Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Photo by NHS Confederation.


Which information can the website get if I use a social login?


It seems a wee bit ironic how a vast majority is concerned about disclosing personal information on site registration, yet a good part of them would happily share their social network accounts with these same sites... What information could possibly be more personal than that?


If a site require or promote Social Login in a way that makes regular user accounts invisible - I'm going away. If for example, this comment field required social login (Like Disquss can be configured to make mandatory) - I would not have posted this. Please, not everyone likes Social Advertising Networks - don't FORCE your users to go towards Google or Facebook. There's plenty of us!