Social Sign-In is Changing Customer and Brand Experience


Jamie Beckland, Janrain @beckland

Jamie Beckland joins Jay Baer from Convince & Convert and Tristan Handy from Argyle Social on the Social Pros Podcast this week to talk about his role as the head of digital and social strategy at Janrain. In addition to being a Convince & Convert sponsor, Janrain offers some neat tools for both companies and consumers through their social sign-in technology. They are attempting to harness the notion that users already have an existing identity on the web through Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., and should be able to use one of those identities when signing up for new services as opposed to creating a brand new one. Through an authentication process, users are able to take on their existing online identity and brands are able to better cater to the user’s preferences and interests. Read on for some of the highlights or listen below for the full podcast.

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Please Support Our Sponsors

Huge thanks to data-driven social media management software company Argyle Social for their presenting sponsorship, as well as Infusionsoft, Janrain, and Jim Kukral at DigitalBookLaunch. We use Argyle Social for our social engagement; we use Infusionsoft for our email; Janrain is our crackerjack social integration company, and Jim is our guest host for the podcast (and a smart guy).

Social Pros Highlights For Your Reading Enjoyment, Thanks to Speechpad for the Transcription

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Janrain is Making Data Actionable

Tristan: Jamie, let me ask you, so I spend a lot of my day in a marketing automation platform. We actually use Pardot. But it’s not that different than Eloqua or Marketo or any of those other guys. When you guys power the social landing pages, do you dump data into systems like that that have pretty wide adoption throughout the marketing and sell?

Jamie: Yeah, that’s exactly right, so marketing automation is a great use case. So part of our interest, Janrain’s interest is in making all of this data actionable. So not just in the context of what is that user doing on your site, so the site behavior that you may already have been collecting in marketing automation, but from other social searches. So what’s that user’s birthday, what’s their gender, what’s their age, all of that interest information that’s so rich from social channels.

If we’re pulling all that in to our system, we definitely want to make it actionable in all of the technology stuff that you’re already using. Marketing automation is a great place to be dumping into a number of those systems. Email service providers are another place that makes a lot of sense, and then all of the on-page engagement elements like commenting platforms, ratings and reviews, all of those kind of platforms where users are taking action, fast- forwarding that process.

Jay: So theoretically, you could have people log in to your site or subscribe via a social ID, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Google, etc. Then because they have provided their email address or other information to those social identities, you could then use that for downstream email marketing, for example. So somebody comes to and we ask them to authenticate via a social ID. Now we have their email address and we also know that they’re male or female or something else. We could then automatically send them a different version of the email based on that information?

Jamie: Yeah, that’s exactly right. So I think probably LinkedIn would make the most sense. So if we can pull in some information about where this person works now or where they have worked in the past, then in terms of email segmentation it becomes really interesting to see, okay, these types of roles, AP level roles, versus social manager roles, versus broader digital roles. How should the content be different in each of those platforms, not only in email, but also on the site?

So if the user comes back to the site the next time, what kind of content should we recommend to that user or what kind of products that are going to be most relevant to them. That’s going to get them to deepen their engagement on the site.

Tristan: In my experience, a lot of times the software developer is kind of – they use the software better than all of the customers. For instance, at Argyle, we probably are the most advanced Argyle users out there just because we kind of have thought way far ahead in terms of how this stuff is supposed to work. Do you guys have any particularly interesting use cases that you guys use in your own marketing?

Jamie: Oh, yeah. That’s a great question. One of the things that we have started doing since our website relaunched earlier this year, was having users that are leaving comments on the blog, having that be the beginning of an authentication process. So now instead of having your comment identity or anonymous comments that’s completely unattached, we thought, well, what would be really interesting is if we could have some understanding about whether the person leaving a comment is a current comment is current customer, a prospect. If they’re somebody who we should be talking with more, who we should be engaging with more deeply in other channels besides just the blog.

So, when the user comes into the site now, you actually go to an authentication event, and then we can match that up on the back end to say, “Okay, is this user a current customer? Are they a prospective customer? What’s their sort of mindset and who and how should we be engaging with that person?” That’s been really effective for us. Obviously we’re active in a lot of other external channels. But since so much of our technology is focused on the site experience itself, that was one of the concrete ways that we could integrate our own technology into our existing marketing staff.

User Data and Privacy is Still an Issue

Tristan: It seems like for tinfoil hat types – I consider myself a very nominal member of that group – that there could be privacy concerns and it’s the kind of thing where people might not even realize that this type of linking was happening. Do you guys provide an option to just, “Hey, let me sign in with a username and password that I create specifically for this site”? If so, how much do people make use of that option?

Jamie: Yeah. It’s a great point. The concerns about privacy are real, and obviously all of the identity providers are looking at this question in the context of their own networks and what’s the experience that the user expects when they’re connecting external websites into their account with the identities. So, we definitely conform to all of those protocols, so Facebook disclosures, LinkedIn and PayPal disclosures about what information is being passed.

There’s a lot of granularity also in some of the users’ perspectives. What we see is actually there is a pretty sophisticated understanding on the part of users that they can control the level of access to detailed information or certain types of functionality. Facebook, when you authorize an application now, has a couple of additional incremental screens where they’re saying, “Will you allow this app to post on your behalf? Will you allow this app to access to certain more personal or more private data?”

The user actually has the ability to opt out of those on an individual basis. So that helps that process a lot. We do, in the context of some types of transactions – and transactions actually are a great example, like e-commerce transactions – sometimes our customers aren’t really comfortable with the social identity being used at all. So, that’s definitely a use case for a username and password. Definitely, identity doesn’t necessarily start and stop with social media.

So, like in the case of toy companies or other kinds of organizations that have compliance regulations where the user might not even have a social media account, that notion of the username and password is still important. It also depends on the level of importance of the website in the user’s life, right? So if it’s an online bank, or if it’s of those very high value, your cable company, your water bill, those are kind of transactions that you want to have a direct relationship with the service provider. So the access into the website might make the most sense in the username and password.

Jay: Tristan is right, though, that a lot of cases, consumers don’t fully understand that information they provided to Facebook initially is now mineable by any site that they authenticate using Facebook, within reason. When that becomes more widely understood, I think there may be a little bit of a backlash. Are you, as an industry yourself and the competitors in this space already thinking about, “How do we make sure that this doesn’t become a regulated issue?” That you sort of self-police before it gets to that point?

Jamie: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s a concern of ours obviously. We’re responsible for storing and managing this data. There are all the technical challenges around privacy and security and encryption and that sort of thing. But in addition to that, it’s just there’s a much more important question, which is the main user experience. We are seeing privacy advocates and that conversation evolving.

By and large, where we kind of find it’s important from a self-policing standpoint is aligning the give to the get. So, what is the data that the user is giving up, and can they see a direct correlation or direct line for how that information is going to be used to make their experience better? So, in the context of sharing your social graph of, “We’re requesting a list of the all your friends – give me all 1,500 of your Facebook friends.” Well, if there’s no reason, if there’s nothing on the other side of that transaction, then it becomes sort of hollow and you get a lot more backlash.

When we align that experience to say, “Well, we want your list of friends so that we can show you which of your friends are also members of this website,” or “so that we can make smarter recommendations to you of who might be interested in the same types of things that you are,” in that context, it makes it much easier to say, “I want to send a message out to all of my friends.” Well, obviously you need to know who your friends are so you can share that message to them.

Those are the kind of things that make sense in terms of a user having some comfort around whether they want to opt into an experience like that.

Social Sign-On Garners Higher Conversion Rates

Jay: You have seen at some level, fairly consistent conversion rate increases through the use of social log-in. Otherwise, why would site owners even take the trouble? Is that true? Is there some sort of measurement around, “Look, you might have gotten on average a 3% response rate. Now it’s a 6% response rate because people can essentially fill out the form with one click instead of actually filling out the form.”

Jamie: Yeah, exactly. I think there’s a lot of great documentation in the space about how any sort of form or any sort of required fields that you’re putting into a registration form drops the conversion. Typically, we see customers with more registrations just from implementing our software, so just from implementing the technology, but then as we sort of work with them in a more consultative way to look at the site experience and then integrate other elements of the site experience together.

So, as I was mentioning this notion of, if you log-in to leave a comment or you log-in to leave a rating, that should log them into the site. It doesn’t really make any sense to log them into one widget or one piece of the page, and not the whole entire page. As we start to layer in those kind of elements, then you can see the registration numbers three, four, 5X.

Some of our customers now at this point are not offering anything but social log-in. Universal Music Group is a great example of that. So all of the artist sites where we’re deployed, which is a couple hundred at this point, you only have the option to use a social identity. You can’t use the traditional username and password, because the site is inherently social.

Jay: You can’t have a password. You’re not allowed to have a username. How about that? That’s kind of interesting.

Jamie: I mean, you still have to pick your username, but they said, “You already have an existing relationship with this artist, probably in multiple channels.” I mean, if you’re a fan and you want to talk with this person and you want to hear what they have to say, it’s an inherently social experience. So we want to bring all that social functionality into the site.

Tristan’s Social Media Stat of the Week

Tristan: I’ve actually been doing some research on retweets. I’ve released a couple of studies in the past about clicks and conversions. I like combing through big data sets and Argyle has a pretty big data set to comb through. One thing that, while I was doing this research, I realized that there were certain types of accounts that were getting a really high retweet rate.

Jay: Was that porn?

Tristan: No. We don’t have a lot of customers in that industry. So I basically sorted all of the accounts that we have. We have a couple thousand accounts that are actively maintained in Argyle and I basically sorted it by retweet rate, and then I looked at those top 50. Out of those top 50, 21 of those are accounts that are focused on sports. So it immediately made me want to say, “Okay, this is just the best social strategy, well let’s just all tweet about sports.”

But it turns out that these communities were really specifically built around particular sports teams. They weren’t pro sports organizations. It was like a Lakers fan site or a Baltimore Orioles fan site. So what I realized as I was digging into this data more is that you have to think about why somebody retweets something. Somebody retweets something because they think their followers will find it interesting. It’s not that they think it’s interesting. It’s that their followers will find it interesting.

So then you as a community manager need to, if you really want retweets, you have to think about who are my followers’ followers, which is something that I think a lot of community managers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. We certainly hadn’t thought about it until I was sitting in front of this data. But if you think about it, people that are subscribing to a Lakers fan site probably a lot of their followers are also Lakers fans. So the content that the Lakers Nation is tweeting out is going to be really relevant for their followers as well and so they get high numbers of retweets.

Jay: You sort of have the visceral nature of sports, that if you like sports enough to subscribe to anybody’s Twitter account that’s sports related, you probably like sports disproportionate, right? So there you want to sort of produce that ripple in a pond effect. I think you said something really interesting that on Twitter in particular you are retweeting it so that your followers can see something that somebody else produced.

It is markedly different from a like or a plus one, or something like that, because you really are rebroadcasting as opposed to just saying, “Hell, yeah. I agree.” It’s a different mechanism, and that’s what troubles me when I see people using tools. Not just yours, but any tools to sort of say, “Let’s put the exact same thing on Facebook that we put on Twitter,” because the mechanism and the psychology and the dynamic there are quite a bit different, and I think we underplay those differences.

Tristan: I think that there’s a lot of focus on retweets as a KPI for the community manager, and that’s totally fine if you’re the community manager for Lakers Nation. But if you’re the community manager for, oh, I don’t know, a B2B software company, there’s going to be less of that. Your followers may care a lot about the content that you produce, and they may click on every link that you put out there, but they may not retweet that to their followers because maybe their followers don’t all care about what they do at work.

Social Pros Shoutout

Jamie: Well, this is actually somebody who I’ve been thinking about a lot, which is the guys over at Socialyzer – Bradley Joyce and Jeb Stone. They’re doing really, really cool stuff about analyzing your follower base and then making recommendations about what time you should be tweeting to reach a certain audience. They can look at it by geo, they can look at it by engagement metrics.

I actually started playing around with their tools and used it on my site and I’ve seen it double the interaction rates over the last couple of months that I see historically. So, I’m pretty exciting about the algorithms that they’re holding.

Jay: Jamie, what’s their URL?

Jamie: They’re at Socialyzer with a Y.

Up Next Week: Harrison Kratz, 2tor

Jay: Harrison Kratz will be joining us on the show. He is head of the online MBA program at University of North Carolina, Eric’s alma mater. So we’re going to talk to him about the confluence of social media and higher ed. That will be a good one. Also be sure that if you have not yet subscribe to the show via iTunes or RSS, do that. will get you there or you can search on iTunes.

Thanks as always to our sponsors, two of them we have on the show today. It’s beautiful. I should just retire. Tristan’s company, Argyle Social, the signature sponsor of Social Pros, Jamie’s company, Janrain, who I think everybody agrees after today’s show is doing some amazingly cool stuff, also our friends at Infusionsoft and Jim Kukral at Until next week, I am Jay Baer. He’s Tristan Handy. Thanks everybody.

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