The Internet is no longer a series of tubes; it’s a vast social experience that allows people to communicate and interact with one another while simultaneously absorbing and creating content. While links and keyword-rich copy are still the building blocks of search relevancy on the Web, Facebook is the hub for social relevancy. When a website can harness a user’s social graph, it makes the content that is being delivered that much more socially relevant.
On December 16th, Facebook unveiled its new Registration Tool, giving websites another option for social connectivity, alongside Instant Personalization and Facebook Connect (aka Single Sign-On). All that the Registration Tool does is populate a registration form with data from your Facebook profile; sounds simple right? With registration forms, simple is the name of the game. Each additional click results in user drop-off, so the fewer clicks, the better. In beta tests, FriendFeed increased signups by 300% after implementing Facebook’s Registration Tool.
The Registration Tool is different from Instant Personalization in that no data is shared with the site before you click Register – everything is being delivered to the site within an iframe, and the site cannot access that information until you click that Registration button. It is different from Facebook Single Sign-On in that there is no authorization dialog. Websites that only had Single Sign-On would be alienating users without Facebook accounts (yes, they still exist), and a hybrid option automatically presents one additional option than the user needs (whether they want a standard registration or a Facebook Connect registration, they definitely don’t need both). With this new Registration Tool, it’s the best of both worlds: one versatile option that’s both clean, secure, and user-friendly.
The transparency of the Facebook Registration Tool is one of its strongest assets. Unlike both other connection options, the Tool allows the user to both see exactly what is being shared with the site and control that information before the registration is completed. And as mentioned above, there is no data shared with the site until the Register button is clicked, which should assuage any privacy concerns associated with Instant Personalization. Another benefit of the Tool is that sites can include fields for custom information not found on the Facebook Profile, like “Favorite Sports Team,” which can provide a more robust registration than the other two options.
Two last notes on privacy specific to the Registration Tool:
- Unlike Single Sign-On, where the Facebook user can manage permissions within Facebook and remove the connection, once the user has registered on a site with the new Registration Tool, that data now lives on that site, and the user must log in and manually remove the data, should they so choose.
- A user’s privacy settings, as they pertain to their Facebook friends, will transfer over to the other social plugins on the third-party site. This means that if you have blocked certain friends from seeing your activity, they will not see your profile as being connected to the site, should they log in to that same site. These restrictions are managed both through your Privacy Settings and through Lists.
What does the Registration Tool mean for brands across the Web? Foundationally, if your site hasn’t socialized yet, it’s never been easier. Take the plunge. Secondly, if you have site registration, there is no reason not to use the Registration Tool; Facebook has blended the best of the Web’s registration techniques, while providing additional data transparency, and eliminating clicks. Fewer clicks means a higher conversion; higher conversion means lower costs; lower costs means a stronger bottom line. Whether brands are ready to accept it or not, it seems as though the Web of tomorrow is going to look a lot more like Facebook and a lot less than their Brand Site. What do you think?
Check out this documentation for instructions on implementing the Facebook Registration Tool on your site.