Why Authors Should Offer Social Sign-In Options

I came across an article in The Internet and Marketing Report this week that talks about the latest trend in log-ins/registrations: social sign-ins. But what are social sign-ins and how should authors use them?

You know how you’ve spent the last fifteen years setting up usernames and passwords on every website you visit — from ones that sell plane tickets to the major newspapers throughout the country?  Different sites have different requirements (some use usernames, some email addresses; some passwords require capital letters, some numbers, some special characters). What a mess this has created! And no one actually remembers every login they set up … and that’s assuming that people don’t just enter false information when they’re setting up accounts to get around the information collection process.

According to a new study, only 1 in 4 prospects will actually register online when its required. The rest will leave. So it only makes sense that we’re finally finding a way around this ridiculous mess of usernames and passwords.

And that answer rests in what’s now called “social sign-in.” It allows people to sign in to a website using a login that they already have on one of the major social networking sites. So, for example, rather than create a new account on Nasdaq.com, someone can just opt to sign in through their existing Facebook account … or LinkedIn account. They just have to enter the username and password associated with those accounts, and the website (in this case, Nasdaq), will have all the information they need.

The benefits of allowing someone to do this on your website are plentiful:

  1. You’ll actually get the user’s personal information — no fake info. Seventy-six percent of people admit to entering false or incomplete information on these types of registrations.
  2. People are more likely to come back to your site again (55% more likely), since they won’t have to worry about forgetting their login info.
  3. More sales! Forty-eight percent of people say they’re more likely to buy from a site with social sign-in.

Okay, so now that we’ve touted the benefits of it, let’s talk about how social sign-in can benefit authors. After all, your website is not the NY Times. It’s not content that people have to have a paid account to get access to, nor is it “personalized” to a user’s specific preferences.

But I think this idea does tie into author websites, albeit in a more indirect manner. Here are a few ways I think authors can use social sign-ins (or the equivalent) to maximize a user’s experience:

  1. Offer Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn as newsletter alternatives. Some people prefer to communicate via social networking (rather than email). So make sure that you don’t require visitors to enter their email address in order to stay updated.
  2. Offer various book purchasing options. Don’t make someone have to set up a new account to buy one of your books. If someone has an account with Amazon (especially if they have one-click), then let them buy the book that way. If you’re selling the book yourself, make sure you offer options like PayPal, credit card, check … Make it as easy as possible for people to use what they already have set up.
  3. Let people contact you through Facebook. Rather than asking visitors to fill out contact forms on your website, let them contact you through Facebook. Offer a link to send you a Facebook message as an option on your contact page.

In short, offer options! Let people use the accounts they already have to send you messages, receive your updates, etc… Don’t make people enter information and/or set up new accounts. There’s no benefit, and a whole lot of drawback!