Get Ready As Corporate Sites and Social Networks Start To Connect

To Increase Engagement, Brands to Allow Users To Login With Facebook, MySpace, Twitter
In a recent report titled the “Future of the Social Web” we found that we are entering the era of social colonization, every webpage and experience will be social–even if brands choose not to participate.  I spent time with Palo Alto startup Gigya who now has a product that enables brands to quickly allow users to login using third party identities (like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook) quickly to a corporate web experience.  Right now, brands are “Pollinating” the social web by letting their corporate created content spread to social networks. As a result, companies are going to start aggregating conversations –the natural reaction to centralize trusted discussions.

  • Problem Situation: Users are bombarded with brands trying to entice them to sign up and registered to a variety of websites, and new technologies are going to make registration pages are a dying breed,
  • Opportunities: To increase the changes that users will interact with brands, they will easiest way for them to engage by allowing users to interact with their existing identities on social networks.
  • Potential Solutions: Tools that aggregate the conversation, brands may lean on Gigya’s Socialize whose aim is to easily manage the complicated APIs and authentication of identies from 3rd party social networks. On a related note I’m going to test JSKit’s Echo who on Friday, announced they will aggregate conversations from multiple social networks
  • ExampleGigya showed me examples of Turner Broadcasting who aggregated conversations about the online Final Four Basketball championship and integrated conversations from Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. This means that the online viewers of the Final Four could interact with their Facebook and Twitter friends in real time on the Turner broadcasting site.  Gigya shared data with me about the engagement of each network, during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Message Distribution by Platform (average of all games) showing that MySpace users created 53%
of all messages Facebook: 35%
and Twitterr just 12%.
  • Who’s it for? This is for brands that want to aggregate multiple social graphs and eventually life streams onto their site or experience.  The most obvious use cases are real time events, but this will soon become helpful all digital media, and will likely start to happen on TV.  Which vendors should talk to them?  Any Community Platform vendor, a CMS vendor moving into this space, or media company or their agency.
  • Challenges: For brands in particular this comes with some considerable challenges –beyond just the technical implementation. At the business level, expect brands to slam up to:
    • Difficult for brands to grasp. This is a complicated and daunting strategy for brands, who don’t know how to approach the changes as the social web envelopes other online experiences. 
    • Privacy Concerns: Secondly, brands that are going to allow this need to figure out how to later segment specific social graphs of users, and ensure privacy expectations of the users are communicated up front.  I could write a whole blog post on how corporate security  groups in IT and legal will justly try to stonewall this.
    • Lead Generation Changed For Brands: Because brands will let users login using their social network identity (like Facebook or Twitter) they are increasing their chances of user interaction and engagement –but miss out on lead generation in the traditional sense.
    • Daunting for Vendors: For Gigya, and other vendors, they’ll need to move fast. while they manage the multiple identity protocols (it’s a complex task as they are moving targets, so it’s often best to outsource this) this eventually will be a commodity technology.   For any platform (community or CMS) who wants to venture into this space, managing this will be a costly venture.
  • Key Takeaways: Brands need to quickly recognize that every web experience will be a social experience –there’s no way to stop it.  Savvy brands will get ahead of the curve and be proactive by allowing users to login and experience their corporate web experiences in the context of their existing social networks.   While this comes with inherent risks about lead generation (control) and privacy, the opportunity to increase engagement and let content spread ever further is at hand. Get started by:
    • 1) Do research in existing social networks to find out what communities are talking about the most in context of your brand
    • 2) Match that with your own corporate website and enable users to login with their existing social identies
    • 3) Start with a real time event or conference that gives you a limited period of time to trial and experiment.  5) Realize the way brands measure leads in the future won’t be by name and email rows in databases –but perhaps by friends, fans, and followers.
    • 4) Demand that your community or CMS vendor provide the tools needed for this to work, or work with vendors that provide this service rather than manage yourself.