Attendees are busy. They have a tendency not to put a lot of thought into registering for an event. If the fields aren’t required, they’re usually skipped. Event organizers have turned to social logins to get at the rich, personal data locked inside registrants’ social media platforms without burdening them too much. But there are pros (mostly pros) and cons associated with the process.
A Better Way To Register
Social registrations eliminate the need for attendees to create a new username and password and complete yet another web form asking for basic information. Instead, it allows them to use login information from existing social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others by clicking a single button. After that, the social network asks them to agree to share their personal information with the event organizer.
DIY or CYA?
Event organizers could theoretically build their own social login interfaces for registration on their websites by obtaining the API (application programming interface) code from each of the social networks, but it’s easier to leave that up to the registration company or a third-party company who (having done all of the API work) offers social login services and reporting.
Benefits of Social Login
There are many benefits to organizers who offer the social registration option to attendees. It makes a somewhat arduous process easy for their customers. They can use social networks to authenticate individuals (i.e. reduce the number of spammers), personalize programming and services, develop more targeted marketing programs, identify new constituencies, and reward attendees who evangelize the event across their social channels.
Beyond making registration easier (even on mobile devices), attendees can benefit from social login options too. The flip side of giving organizers more information is the possibility that they will actually use it to create better experiences for their attendees, such as suggesting exhibitors to visit or other conference sessions to attend; recognizing them with coupons or free registration, or sending them personalized emails.
The Slightly Dim (Not Really That Dark) Side of Social Login
Despite all of the joy that organizers receive from obtaining social data from attendees and the gratitude felt by said attendees for being at the receiving end of a more personalized user experience, there are downsides for both sides:
– Attendees have to give away (albeit with permission) their personal data. Although social networks differ about what data they allow to be shared, it can range from email addresses and where the registrant went to high school to likes, shares, hometown, activities, and friends. And the sharing is NOT optional.
– Some observers have made the case that any reputation disasters that befall the third-party social media companies can also sully the reputation of the event on whose website the offending company’s name and logo appears.
– According to a registration insider, not many organizers even use the social data that they have access to with social registrations. In fact, when users log in at various times with different platforms, the data can be even more difficult for them to crunch.
– In the past, security firms and researchers have identified vulnerabilities in some of the underlying technologies that enable social login. These weaknesses make it possible for hackers to phish for personal data from unsuspecting registrants.
– If the third-party website (Twitter, et. al.) with which the user logged in is hacked, the registrant’s social media account is put at risk as is the personal data on any websites that are connected to it, like the registration website.
– While social logins make registering easier for many, too many ways to log in can lead to attendee analysis paralysis as users weigh the pros and cons of each login option.
Event organizers need to ask themselves whether the gains—more completed registrations, more data, happier customers—are worth the costs and the risks. And if they are, planners should think more deeply about how to leverage the data byproduct of the process. Knowing more about customers and putting that knowledge to use can be a competitive differentiator for an event business.
Social login could be considered as one of the great breakthroughs in event registration. It makes the process faster, easier, and pain free. But, it comes with tradeoffs. Attendees have to pay for this easy breezy login setup with their personal information. And once the door to another network is open – especially with behemoths like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, the loss of control can be a bit uncomfortable for some. Taking the necessary steps to be transparent with attendees and offering them options that match their risk tolerance levels is crucial.
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