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.

58 Replies to “Get Ready As Corporate Sites and Social Networks Start To Connect”

  1. Just noticed a great use of this on a hip hop artists website, to login with facebook

    Thought it was cool that he was integrating it this way–really big for a personal brand.

  2. Great ideas! Can’t wait to see this in practice with a lot of brands. We all hate registration pages. But even signing in with social profiles seems to present a daunting bit of security risk for many users. Some aren’t comfortable with that. I wonder if and when OpenID via a few trusted sources with circumvent this practice.

    And, of course, different brands will always want to gather different data about their users. Ever sign up for a free magazine subscription or media Web site? Sheesh! You have to give up rights to your first born in a three-page form. Hard to imagine those kind of registration sites going down easy since they thrive on providing demographic data for their advertisers.

  3. So do you 😉 You also use FBConnect to allow users to comment. But¦
    The problem for you are:
    – you don’t have access to the user, or just part of it. You are missing the best part of it, the email address and eventually the phone number. This information is on the social network, not on your website

    The problem for the user:
    As the email address is on the social network (here Facebook), the user has no way to get notified by the website (here when new comments are posted.

    The people we met regarding social network integration are interested by it, but they want and the need the informations about these users. This is the added value they would like to get in order to communicate more efficiently in the future. And I can understand that.

  4. @Frederic: I’ll argue with that a bit.

    Firstly, why should a brand get my e-mail or phone number? That’s way too personal. Just because I log it to Jeremiah’s site with Facebook does not mean I want phone calls from him. It’s not like he’s doing me a favor by letting me comment with Facebook. That’s old brand thinking – bow to our power and maybe we’ll throw some table scraps at you.

    Secondly, the thinking behind lead generation is wrong. The current thinking is – let’s evolve the site, but keep lead generation the same. This evolution of the site has far-reaching implications – including on how lead generation is done.

    Thirdly – if I log in to Jeremiah with Facebook, I’d like to be notified of follow-up comments on Facebook and maybe even reply directly from Facebook.

    I honestly think it’s a very good evolution – touch points with brands are multiplying and this implies different levels of engagement. I’d like to start by commenting with Facebook, you can send me updates there, and if I like you, I may give you more – but not before you prove yourself to be worth it.

  5. We have also used this approach to help our clients bring to life a social strategy, even if funds aren’t available for creating new content specifically for social media. Instead, this allows brands to “unlock” their content and “socialize” their own brand sites.

  6. Is there a concern about privacy here? What will Facebook do with all the data they are gathering about these brands users? Can’t it be use as a competitive advantage?

  7. While integrating Facebook Connect, JSKit, Disqus, etc. with your corporate website or online community may expand your audience, the trade-off is measurement and tracking of users and their activities. Ideally, the integration would:
    1) Map Facebook or Twitter IDs to local IDs upon initial login, so while users can continue to login with Facebook IDs, you can track their activities based on their local IDs.
    2) Instead of using Facebook Comments or Disqus Comments, stick with local comments but provide option to publish to Facebook activity stream or Twitter.
    3) Make it very easy for users to invite their “friends” on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere to join your site.

    More of my thoughts about this “do both and integrate” strategy on my blog:

  8. Great post Jeremiah – I’ve had an interesting experience over the past few years driving a corporately-sponsored social media site to develop the open standard at

    As it was a major part of a sales strategy for services work, there was a coupling between the corporate side and open social media site, some on the open site but more behind the firewall. Security, privacy, brand and IP loss issues were all there, but confidence grew in the approach over time.

    Our research was primarily based on market trends and growing demand for an open approach, which gave us the case to have a blended corporate/open social media approach. It was a big change, but certainly a growing trend that will come in a few different forms (not just social networks).

  9. Lawrence Liu those are helpful tips. I expect a service to merge that will let brands map social identities (like on Facebook) to their CRM records.

  10. Thanks for this post, Jeremiah.

    You raise an issue that we definitely are talking about in the marketing automation/demand generation community.

    Eventually converting digital interaction with pages, downloads and forms to a digital identity is a critical process in modern lead management.

    I was just thinking about some of the pros and cons of having a social media/universal ID versus one-off filling out of forms. I think that it will lower the registration rate … and impact lead rates … because individuals will be more guarded in sharing their ‘real’ identity. But I also think it could raise the quality level of leads and increase the percentage of ‘authentic’ and engaged interactions with customers and prospects.

    So — privacy issues notwithstanding — I can see how it could benefit us beyond the whole relationship/social graph issue and could, in fact, increase overall quality of customer-brand engagement.

    Good dialogue. Let’s keep talking about this.

  11. Jeremiah:

    Friend Marty Wetherall, founder of, is doing something similar to Gigya Socialize, and working with sports teams, bands, etc. (i.e. organizations or groups that have “fans.”)

    Here’s one example of FanChatter in action, on the website of the Minnesota Timberwolves: Fans can connect through their Twitter or Facebook accounts and chat during the games. Their status updates can optionally be posted back to their original FB/Twitter accounts.

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  12. I have to agree with Lawrence and Frederick above. There are not too many companies willing to give up lead generation. Unless these tools add the company as a friend or connect them automatically, I doubt you’ll see high adoption.

  13. Great article, thanks for the info. I remember the interactivity capability on the Turner Broadcast of the Final Four and it was pretty interesting and new concept to me at the time, but it seems like this next aspect of social networking is about to explode.

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  15. In trying to encourage the use of social media or social utilities, to an educational-online environment, it was met with a sense of education being degraded by these sites. I didn’t think so. I felt that for Online Education to attract an audience and create a population of prospective online students, that by creating a portal of ‘games’ and such like a facebook would be a way for the educational site to ‘attract’ students and put the name of the institution on their conversations, like “I played bejeweled or scrabble on xxx university website and made this xxx amount of points”. It is a bragging rights – no to little cost, but a great way to expand the potential and very competitive market place. One idea was to try it with one grade like grade 6. Do analytics on its social network expansion. Over time, see if that translate from prospective students to actual online students. It’s about 6 years, but it could be funded by Industry Canada or AUCC, or other funding things looking for innovation. Also trying to place this educational institutional webpage on workplaces—including the portal to the games. One response was “you want to make this a gameboy website”. No…but realistically, your long-term market in education is YOUTH, as with any adversitizing of a product. So current markets have a huge competition drive already, but its innovative to bring this all to the Youth in a style that attracts them. Serious pages are quickly rejected. Pages that can be tabbed quickly between and hold many types of communication, ie iphone, email, facebook and games, are about how Youth ‘toggle’ from one thing to another in a manner that boggles adults minds these days. These are the navigation tools of the next post secondary students. They will be more willing to switch on if it’s all connected.
    Diana Hohne.

  16. from all this 'people power' and 'internet 2.0' mass democracy, a lesson is creeping in through the back door: that a certain number of people in the world are in fact idiots and they cannot be included on an equal basis in discussions or improvement of the future

  17. Its good that more people would be interested to connect and keep in touch to their corporations. It would be an advantage to them. A lot of people are leveling the accusation at Google that their new service Googlebuzz or Gmailbuzz is going to cut in on Facebook “ but that doesn't entirely make a lot of sense. Granted, it DOES have features that Facebook and other social networking sites share “ such as sharing photos, videos, etc “ but that is just as much the domain of Digg and Reddit as Facebook's. I would venture that it's probably more akin to Twitter than Facebook “ and I don't think anything is going to cause Facebook to run for payday loans anytime soon.

  18. Its good that more people would be interested to connect and keep in touch to their corporations. It would be an advantage to them. A lot of people are leveling the accusation at Google that their new service Googlebuzz or Gmailbuzz is going to cut in on Facebook “ but that doesn't entirely make a lot of sense. Granted, it DOES have features that Facebook and other social networking sites share “ such as sharing photos, videos, etc “ but that is just as much the domain of Digg and Reddit as Facebook's. I would venture that it's probably more akin to Twitter than Facebook “ and I don't think anything is going to cause Facebook to run for payday loans anytime soon.

  19. I've been Googling all day and I still don't know which system is better for my site; Disqus or Echo? or even maybe Intense Debate.

  20. Social networks are great, but sometimes do not have this sinking feeling that they are not able to follow everything. First you must go to the big social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

  21. Social networks are really useful for commercial sites as they can attract clients and promote their products through the networks. It is a really good way to build traffic and attract consumers. As far as I know, there are a lot of owners of the commercial sites which promote their business through social networks and this really works, at least for now. In fact, I think it is not right as social networks were essentially created for communication.

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  23. With the increase of the most well-known social networking sites you need to be sure they are a aspect of your online promotion techniques. If you take plenty of a chance to understand each one well enough to use them, they will become a large resource to your company. Just sit down and add the most well-known social networking sites to you promotion strategy.

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