It is no secret that free Wi-Fi is commonly offered by businesses to gain deeper customer insights so they can execute targeted marketing. But how accurate is that customer data? Whether it be the customer's email address or name, there is always the chance that the details submitted are mistyped, or just simply made up. Traditional Wi-Fi authentication methods are becoming outdated by Internet users who attempt to outsmart the system – the majority of whom are successful. This is where a social media login method can help.

Let’s make a quick comparison.

Email as a Wi-Fi authentication method:

  • When customers provide their email address to login, there's the risk of them using a fake email, and businesses have no way to validate their identities.
  • Businesses have a somewhat limited view of the customer, as the only data obtained is the customer’s email address.
  • Customers might find the process of typing out their email address time consuming and fiddly, which can be cause for making an error.

Social media sign on as a Wi-Fi authentication method:

  • Customers who login via social media are more likely to provide accurate information about themselves. If customers choose this method of logging in, it allows businesses to verify their identities and provide a more personalized experience.
  • Businesses can build detailed customer profiles, comprising of email addresses and any other information publicly attached to their social media account.
  • Customers are able to gain access to Wi-Fi faster than through other verification methods with a simple one-click solution.

Regardless of which option best fits your business, free Wi-Fi is still a business transaction. The business gives the customer the ability to connect to the Internet, and the customer allows the business to view their data. When consent is given, this information can be used for targeted advertising, and the more information available to the business, the more they are able to personalize their messaging in direct marketing materials. Examples such as emailing special deals to customers based on their age range or geotargeting content, highlight how data extracted from social Wi-Fi sign-on can be used to better engage customers, and in turn, enhance the customer experience during and post-purchase. Indeed, when a customer opts to login using social Wi-Fi, they are basically providing the business with the opportunity to make their experience truly exceptional. Research suggests superior customer service drives brand loyalty, which fosters a win-win scenario for both sides.

Businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the benefits involved in integrating social sign-on into their Wi-Fi captive portals. As growth in social media usage continues globally, it is becoming increasingly prevalent that social Wi-Fi, as an authentication method, is a blindspot worth investigating.