Posted December 13, 2010 3:02 pm by with 4 comments

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In an average day, I log-in to no less than twenty different websites. Some of these are blogs I work on. Some are communities I follow. Then there’s Amazon, eBay, Gmail, Facebook and Twitter.  Each place has its own username and password and some make me change my password on a regular basis. Firefox remembers most of them for me, thank heavens, but it’s not an exact science.

So in comes social media logins. These are the sites that allow you to bypass their own login system by using Facebook, Twitter, etc. At first glance, it seems like a great solution. You only have one front door key to your house, so why not one “key” for the entire internet. But which key?

Janrain, Inc., (, a company that provides third party logins along with other user management platforms has just published their latest study on this very topic. They looked at 300,000 sites that are currently using their Janrain Engage program and figured out which social media login was the most popular.

In spite of the fact that Facebook logins have been popping up everywhere on the web, they’re still only the second most popular login system. They’re up 3% over the past three months and rapidly gaining on Google which still holds first place. Yahoo comes in third, which surprised me at first, then I realized that I use Yahoo to login to sharing site Yahoo Buzz and the old standby for bookmarking, Delcious. Twitter was up from 5% to 7%. Windows Live, AOL, and Paypal picked up the rest of the pie.

The numbers take a fascinating turn if you segment the data by category. Looking strictly at entertainment and gaming sites, Facebook jumps up to become the leader by a wide margin. Windows Live moves up on the list thanks to its popularity in Europe and Google nearly falls away.

When it comes to mobile, Janrain turned to their iPhone app users and found Facebook (34%) and Google (30%) still in the top spots but Twitter came in much higher at 15%.

For the consumer, social logins are all about getting up and running faster. It eliminates the need to remember a log list of username and passwords and it allows you to automatically populate profile fields with the click of one button. For the marketer, social media logins turns each user into a mini-brand ambassador for your site. Actions on site, can be automatically sent as social media updates on Twitter or Facebook. Being connected also gives the user easy access to their friends list which encourages sharing.

The downside of using a social media login is privacy. Though every site serves up an assurance that your personal data won’t be accessed, it’s hard to believe. And then there’s the annoyance factor. If I forget to uncheck a box on GetGlue, every move I make will be broadcast to my friends on Facebook and Twitter. Great for brand awareness but not so great for my followers.

Do you use social media logins on your site?

  • Hi Cynthia, Thanks for covering the release of our latest data study on social login data preferences. Additional graphs for different markets (retail, news media, magazine publishers, music, non-profits, mobile and Europe) as well as a chart on preferred networks for social sharing are available on our blog:

    You raise some great points in your last paragraph, and I just wanted to clarify that users have to opt-in to use social login and share their profile data with a site. On the social sharing front, we encourage our customers to follow the best practice of having users opt-in to share back to their social networks, thereby avoiding the “annoyance factor” you point out.

    Thanks again,
    Lisa Hannah
    Director of Marketing @janrain

    • Cynthia Boris

      Thanks for that Lisa.

      Recently it seems like the number of Facebook logins I use has doubled and it’s left me with images of a Facebook stream updating every 10 seconds! Plus, I’m not always interested in broadcasting all of my likes and dislikes to everyone on my list so. . ..

      As far as sharing the profile data, in the past we’ve seen plenty of incidents where something was shared that wasn’t supposed to be shared, it’s just the way of the world.

  • Surely a little time, or it changes or it will lose a little more space.

  • When I realized just how much of my life and daily activity was “in the cloud” I made a conscious decision not to reuse passwords. I didn’t like the idea of someone taking a common login such as email address and using that to gain access to multiple sites. There are many password protection programs offered now that provide an easy to use interface and good security. For me, it’s worth the extra step to bring back an encrypted and random password for sites that I believe stores extra sensitive information.