Facebook is everywhere. No matter how many people you hear complaining about the broken newsfeed, privacy issues, and other worries, it still boasts the largest user base of any social platform.
One big reason for that is the nearly ubiquitous Facebook Connect. As you go through your online day, you will be invited to “log in with Facebook” innumerable times. Well, Google is catching up. The debut last week of the Google Sign-In is the latest shot in the ongoing war for your data.
Lets take a quick look at the promo video Google has released. In it we hear from the CEO of The Fancy about the company’s implementation of this new feature.
Of course, companies are going to love this. Getting more engagement and more data are always worthwhile goals after all.
Mary D’Amico at ClickZ reports:
Google says automatic sign-in will accelerate online registration and conversion, increase engagement among users, and, most key, give companies access to data on downloads, signed-in users, and their activity.
Ten companies have already implemented the Google sign-in, including publishers USA Today and The Guardian, restaurant guide OpenTable, Flixster, Fitbit, music sharing sites Shazam and TuneIn, discovery sites Banjo and Fancy, and Beautylish.
‘This will give us great insights on the behavior and interests of Shazam users and will also enabled targeted in-app advertising based on artists and genres that people are listening to,’ says David Jones, EVP for marketing at Shazam. Jones told ClickZ that the new version of Shazam incorporating the Google sign-in had gone up in a matter of days.
It will be interesting to see how long the new Google service takes to propagate across the Web. Some webmasters are playing with it already, while others are asking, “Do we really need another way to log in?” In the meantime, another subset of webmasters who have already stepped back from Facebook due to diminishing results are eyeing it with interest.
Ease of Use
One thing that should propel Google Sign-In is its ease of use. Facebook discovered that when it debuted Facebook Connect. If you offer users an option to sign in that includes two clicks rather than an involved process, they will almost always take the easier road.
Add in the seamless integration with Google +, Google Apps, YouTube, and the rest, and it becomes a pretty easy choice. Log in with Facebook and get Facebook, log in with Google Sign-In, and an array of integrated programs is suddenly at your fingertips.
Social Spam? No, Thanks!
Social media users have had to become used to particular varieties of spam, with “sponsored posts” being inserted into their data streams as one example. Google capitalizes once again on this constant gripe about Facebook with a preemptive strike, par for the course in its marketing of Google+.
‘It’s secure, and it prohibits social spam,’ emphasizes Seth Sternberg, Google’s director of product management for Google+, in a post on the official Google+ developers blog. ‘And we’re just getting started.’
When you use Google+ Sign-In, you’ll enter your Google credentials and view a summary of what’s about to happen. Will the owner of the website or the developer behind an app see your name, basic info, and the people you’re connected to on Google+? Will he or she see your email address? Will the people you’re connected to on Google+ see that you’re using that app or website? A prominent ‘only you’ option keeps information limited to… only you. (Meaning that your pals won’t be seeing anything you don’t want them to.) The whole setup’s quite similar to that of Facebook Connect, so it’s doubtful that anyone who has used the latter will be too confused.
There’s a key difference though: ‘Google+ doesn’t let apps spray ‘frictionless’ updates all over the stream,’ Sternberg writes, ‘so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it).’
Google has been smart enough to realize that users want an “opt-in” approach to promotion online. Anything unsolicited is immediately branded as spam. I predict that this stance will serve them well as the online ecosystem continues to evolve.
It is all about the apps these days, isn’t it? This means that being able to use Google Sign-In on mobile devices is a significant part of the strategy. Seth Sternberg, director of product management for Google+, stressed this aspect on the Google Developers Blog:
‘Whether you’re building an app for Android, iOS or the Web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google+ info for an upgraded experience,’ wrote Sternberg. ‘It’s simple, it’s secure and it prohibits social spam. And we’re just getting started.’
Not only that, but it also creates a new channel for getting those apps onto people’s phones. Now, when you sign in to a website using Google you will have the option of installing the app on your Android device with a single click. (iOS users are currently still out in the cold as far as this feature goes, but that is hardly surprising.)
Since one of the annoying aspects of the digital age is getting things set up across all your devices, this will probably prove to be a popular feature with both users and developers. For users, it provides ease of use and a seamless experience. For developers, it should significantly increase the number of downloads their apps get.
So, what do you think? Will you be embracing Goole as your new log-in of choice? How about your blogs and websites — will you be installing the button on them? Let us know, we would love to hear your thoughts!
George "Loki" Williams is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content, community management and social media. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters and Kaiser Permanente. He is one of the organizers of the Rising Tide Conference in New Orleans, and his work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, and NOLA.com, among others.