Blog

All posts by Matthew Keesan

Introducing Social Sign In for WordPress

A while back, we launched Social Sign In in AddThis Labs, to make it easy to allow your users to sign in using their existing Google, Twitter or Facebook accounts. Data shows that significantly more people will register and sign in to your site if they don’t have to create and manage a new account. You’ll still need your own user system to integrate Social Sign In, however; if you don’t already have one, that can be a daunting project.

We’re now making it even easier, for WordPress users. Since every WordPress blog already has a standard user system for managing authors and commenters, we’ve created a new WordPress plugin that integrates Social Sign In automatically.

WordPress login screen
That means you can add Facebook, Google and Twitter-based authentication to your WordPress blog with a single click. Our plugin just adds social authentication to the existing WordPress registration and sign in screens, so the flow doesn’t change for your users–you can use Social Sign In for registering commenters and submitters alike.

Manage multiple WordPress blogs? Connect them all with a single account. If your blogs have many readers, we’ll prefill their profiles with information gleaned when they authenticate with one of our supported services, making registration simpler, faster and more complete.

Best of all, it’s free, and the data is yours! All registered user data remains in your WordPress database. And we use your Facebook, Google, and Twitter application IDs so you’re not tied to our platform. (Don’t have application IDs? They’re free and easy to obtain–the plugin will walk you through the process. They’re important because they let each service know that authentication requests for your domain are authorized by you.)

To get started:

  1. Open up your WordPress dashboard
  2. Select Plugins > Add New
  3. Install “AddThis Social Sign In”
  4. Activate the plugin
  5. Select Settings > AddThis SSI
  6. Follow the instructions for adding your Facebook, Google and Twitter application IDs
  7. Log out, and log back in with just one click!

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think!

PennApps 2012

Joe Sullivan and I are headed down to Philadelphia today for Penn Apps 2012, an awesome bi-annual 48-hour hackathon for university students, run by Penn students themselves. There’s thousands of dollars in prizes, not to mention mentors from sponsors like us, Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Mongo, Mozilla, the New York Times, Quora, Zappos, and more. They’ll even reimburse your bus fare (which is extra rad since the price of a ticket from New York has risen substantially from the $5 I paid as an undergrad).

This session is already completely full, but there’s a waiting list for student hackers, and the next PennApps is just six months away. (All developers in the area are invited to come by to help advise teams in their areas of expertise.)

If you’re a student looking for help, or live in Philly and just want to meet your friendly local AddThis developers, please drop me a line or send a tweet (@itsjoesullivan or @keesan)! We’re excited to be sponsoring our first university hackathon.

Introducing Our Newest Sharing Experience

We’re happy to announce major updates to the AddThis sharing tool suite: the new design we’ve been testing in AddThis Labs graduates today, with a slew of new features. Go grab the new code!

We’ve written before about the mind-boggling amount of data every day, and how we use it to provide insights both to our publishers and into trends across our network. But we also use data to drive and refine our own processes and designs. Today, we’ve used what we’ve learned to make sharing even easier, and more personal. That means more engagement from your visitors, more sharing, and more traffic for your site.


Simpler design.

First, we have a new look. We’ve streamlined and simplified the compact menu. We’ve made our email form a lot easier to use, like the email clients you’re already familiar with. Our expanded menu’s been optimized for faster sharing to the most popular services in your region, and easier searching for your personal favorites. (As always, we’ll highlight the services you use for even easier sharing next time.) We’ll take advantage of jQuery on pages that already include it for simple but lovely transitions. And while our new platform takes advantage of HTML5 and loads of modern browser features, we won’t leave you out in the cold if you’re stuck on IE6–though, seriously guys, it’s time.

In Labs, the updated design increased sharing by 11%. In production, it’s going to do even better–due to our second major update.

Instant sharing.

Sharing to Facebook or Twitter used to mean popping a new window. That’s fast, but we figured if we made it even faster, more people would be sharing your content. To that end, we’re introducing “instant” inline sharing to the most popular social networks. If your users link their social accounts with AddThis, they’ll be able to share directly to Facebook or Twitter without even leaving your page. The new inline interface means there’s no extra page load–that means more unimpeded sharing. Even better, once a user authenticates, they’ll remain logged in on every single site with AddThis, until they log out. Everybody wins.

Adding social sign in to our sharing tools doesn’t just mean it’s easier to share. It also means it’s a lot easier to personalize your AddThis experience–easily choose the services you want to see once, and you’ll see them across all the sites that use AddThis.

Pain-free pinning.

Our recent updates for Pinterest are fully integrated with the new design. We’ve created the simplest and easiest way to integrate with Pinterest: almost no work necessary! Put AddThis on any page you want to make pinnable, and we’ll show a simple, elegant lightbox to showcase all the images on your page for your users to pick from. You can always specify your own image, too, if you want! We’ve found this feature can boost sharing to Pinterest by 20% or more.

You can add all these capabilities to your site with one simple code snippet. Take a look and try it out!

Our plugins for WordPress, Magento, and Shopify will be updated this week to support the new surfaces.

Questions? Comments? As always, we’d love your feedback.

Introducing Social Sign In

We’re stoked to announce the newest addition to AddThis Labs:
Social Sign In.

You’ve probably noticed that many websites now allow you to register or sign in using one of your existing social network accounts, like your Facebook username or your Twitter ID. It’s not just a startup fad; in fact, there’s solid science behind it. Blue Research studied the holiday shopping habits of US consumers and noticed that the vast majority of us are annoyed by having to create a new account to use a site, and would generally rather use one of our existing social network accounts.

If you’ve ever had to register on an obscure website just to buy one perfect gift, you probably know exactly how this feels! Even outside of retail applications, users are much more likely to register for and engage with your site if the process is bootstrapped with their existing online identity–some research has shown users authenticating socially spend up to 50% more time on site than the rest.

Seeing the value of social authentication is easy. Building it, though, hasn’t been. Most existing social authentication solutions have either required a lot of complicated server-side programming; mastering the ins and outs of OpenID, OAuth, and other specifications; or paying for a hosted solution and thus giving up control over your users’ data, not to mention some of your budget!

Our approach is simpler. And it might be the right one for you.

Example of Google, Twitter and Facebook sign in buttons
Use their standard buttons, or design your own.

Social Sign In by AddThis is a straightforward JavaScript library that makes it easy to strengthen your relationship to your users by adding Facebook, Twitter or Google authentication to your site.You provide the application keys for each service you’d like to integrate. We take care of rendering the buttons and managing the authentication flow. When a user successfully authenticates, we provide the data directly to you, via JavaScript.


Some of the social data you’d get,
if I logged into your site using Social Sign In.

From then on, it’s your show, whether you want to pre-fill a registration form, directly create a new account, or store the data for later analysis. Our goal is just to make it easy to bring your users’ social data to your site, whether for registration, authentication, or personalization. You can try it out live on our Labs page.

Want to offer as many services as possible? No problem. Regardless of the network used, the data comes back in the same format — so you only have to write code once.

Like all our tools, you’ll get data in our analytics dashboard, too. We’re starting by keeping track of what networks your users are logging in with, but we’d love your thoughts on other information that might be relevant.

To make integration even easier, we’ve open sourced a fully functional demo in JavaScript, PHP and MySQL, with a simple user registration system based on Social Sign In. If you’ve always wanted a user system, feel free to start with ours! Or you can use our code as a basis for integrating Social Sign In into your existing registration and authentication system.

Questions? Comments? We’d love your feedback!

Increase Engagement with Our New Welcome Bar

Here’s a problem you might like to have:

One day, your blog is linked on the front page of the New York Times. You’re suddenly getting thousands of hits an hour, way more than you normally get in a week. Most of those visitors read your post and leave; a few might be motivated to poke around your archives, or subscribe to your feed. Although the spike looks awesome in Google Analytics, it doesn’t earn you anything commensurate with the traffic volume. If there was a way to easily detect these new visitors and encourage them to do something useful, you could turn a lucky break into lasting value.

We had this problem. That’s why we’ve created the Welcome bar.


Disclaimer: Only an image. Were this a real Welcome bar, you’d probably click on it.

It welcomes your users by appearing at the top of your site and asking them to perform a single action—to share this content on their favorite site, to follow you on your social network of choice, or to visit another page. In our testing thus far, we’ve found that conversion rates for personalized, targeted calls to action like this are orders of magnitude more effective than normal on-page sharing tools, by pageview.

What makes our Welcome bar different from other social bars is that it’s built on our awesome data APIs. You can leverage what we know about our 1.3 billion users across our network of millions of sites to customize your calls to action to achieve specific goals–like getting your content shared, increasing your follow count, increasing sales, and more.

Let’s take that New York Times example. The Welcome bar makes it easy to set up different rules for different scenarios. You might want to thank everyone from the Times and also invite them to retweet the article if they’re into Twitter. If they’re not a Twitter user, you can direct them to your newsletter subscription form.

The Twitter users could see this:
Retweet this post

…while everyone else sees this:
Subscribe to our newsletter

On the backend, you get a simple module in your analytics console showing how many times we’ve shown the bar to a matched user, and of those sessions, how many times the user’s taken the suggested action:


Welcome bar analytics module
As you can see, the New York Times has not linked to my blog. Yet!

That way you can justify the ROI of taking over 35 prime pixels. (And you can always style the bar using your own CSS.)

To help make this more clear, here’s a live example. When you click that link, it’ll invite you to Tweet this blog post if you’re a Twitter user; if you’re not a Twitter user, you’ll be invited to return to the blog. If you reload the page, you’ll get a generic message inviting you to learn more about the bar. And if you happen to live in my neighborhood, I’ll invite you to a concert.

The Welcome bar API allows you to target hundreds of different user states. Want to show a promotion to users from a specific ZIP code? There’s an API for that. Want to show different messages to new versus returning users? There’s an API for that, too. We support targeting by time of day, preferred services, referring service, browser type, and more.

But you don’t need to be a JavaScript wizard to use the Welcome bar. Our simple configuration tool lets you define the visitors you want to target, configure the bar’s appearance and choose the action you want the visitor to take.

If there’re interesting conditions we haven’t added to the API yet, we’d love to hear about them! Our goal is to provide all the intelligence you need to target your users for simple calls to action. We’d also love know what other capabilities you’d like the bar to have, beyond sharing, following, and linking.

Just grab the Welcome bar code and see how easy it is to get started.

Questions? Comments? Send ’em our way!

Add Google Social Tracking

Google launched social tracking for Google Analytics in June, to measure social engagement, social actions and social pages. If you’re already using AddThis with GA, you can integrate with one line of code!

You just need to opt-in:

<script type="text/javascript">
     var addthis_config = {
        /* your GA property ID goes here: */
        data_ga_property: 'UA-123456-1',
        /* set to true to enable social tracking
        data_ga_social : true
     };
</script>

We’ll track the network (e.g. “facebook”), the social action (e.g. “share”), and the target (e.g., http://example.com/your/blog).

If you haven’t already, upgrade to the new version of GA to see the social reports:
Social reports on GA

Google’s got plenty of documentation on the new social analytics features if you need help interpreting their reports. If you’re totally new to Google Analytics and AddThis, check out our help doc on basic integration.

Questions? Comments? Drop us a line in the forums.

AddThis WordPress Plugin Redux

As a holiday present from us to you, we’ve finally updated our WordPress plugin. It’s way more customizable, and integrated with the WordPress dashboard so you don’t have to know anything about PHP to make changes.

Download it here:
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/addthis/

As always, we appreciate your feedback! Many of the features of this new plugin came straight out of forum discussions.

Enjoy!