Twitter is now making it possible for site owners to let users log in with their Twitter accounts. Should you offer this option as it becomes widely available? We’ll get to that momentarily.
This comes on the heels of Facebook Connect, a similar service. The gist of all of these third party login technologies (and there are many others) is fairly straightforward:
- A publisher adds an option for site visitors to sign in with an already existing account that they have (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc).
- Visitors then sign in with their existing account, rather than registering anew with that site.
- The site pulls any available information from the visitor’s account, such as their name.
Mashable does a great job showing how Twitter’s offering compares with Facebook Connect. You can read that post for the how-to.
Another important question to deal with is whether to use these services at all. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you need to offer registration at all? How much value does that add for your users – and for you?
- If you offer registration for enhanced functionality on or access to your site, how much are you willing to cede that control to another publisher?
- If registration isn’t as essential, could you benefit from easy “share on Twitter” or “share on Facebook” functionality? Making this a prominent part of the site design, especially when there is content that consumers already share on these services, could provide much of the value. Granted, the opportunities to integrate Twitter and Facebook go much deeper with other login services – the sharing element is just one part of it.
- When deciding whether to use either Facebook or Twitter, where are your consumers and what are they doing? Though Twitter doesn’t release user numbers, rough estimates would put Facebook’s base at roughly 20 times Twitter’s (ballpark 200 million to 10 million), so the reach is unquestionably in Facebook’s favor. Yet Twitter has a very passionate fan base in certain circles (technology/social media early adopters, mom bloggers, news junkies) and could be more appealing to those audiences.
There won’t be any easy answers, and they’ll differ for every marketer and publisher, so it will be essential to make sure your decision fits in well with your overarching strategy and goals.