Reducing the barriers to using a website is often a key goal for an eCommerce business.
One way of reducing the barrier to the whole 'register/sign up' process and the subsequent
'logging in with yet another username and password' is to allow visitors to sign in with their Google ID or Facebook.
I've seen this work well on B2C websites but I'm not sure whether it works for B2B sites as
many people associate their Facebook account with their personal life (maybe less so with Google).
Do you think using OpenID / Google / Facebook is a viable way to reduce the barriers of logging into a B2B website, and if so, which of those do you think are more suited to B2B?
My question here is specifically about the usefulness of Google/Facebook etc in the sign-up process for a B2B website to lower the barriers to achieving registered users, not their relevance from a social media point of view. Any comments welcomed.
Edit: Clearly OpenID is a disaster. Also just for a little more clarity on the B2B classification - our customers are buying stuff for work (so that's why we're B2B) but apart from that it feels like B2C in that the visitors won't be using generic company logins and the model is quite Amazon-esque. They work for universities, large pharmaceuticals etc. and they are buying stuff they need to be able to do their individual jobs. Being largely academics Salesforce is probably not a goer (sounds nasty anyway) and LinkedIn / Google might be most appropriate.
For a US B2B site, I'd focus on sign-in with LinkedIn, Salesforce, Google Apps, and Plaxo first. Then Facebook later on, if at all, and probably never "open" OpenID. Not sure how, or if the UK changes that.
Even with B2C sites that are business oriented, e.g., Quora, I think mixing personal Facebook with business is sub-optimal, but so long as there are other options it will only, at worst, seem a bit un-businesslike. I'd bet there's a big difference in Facebook's helpfulness when your customers are Silicon Valley tech firms v. companies in the automobile supply chain. Look like you may already have a lot: survey them and find out!
Google could be a positive if your approach works with Google Apps, otherwise it will probably confuse people (there was time when Apps users couldn't sign in via Google's federated approach, i.e., OpenID+OAuth1, and I don't know if that's still the case or if there's a workaround.)
Updated : Since I brought it up, I thought should point out that Salesforce is far more than OAuth1 or 2, there's also SOAP to wash your mouth with (and do you ever need it after reading their docs.) Moreover, customers have to install your package into their Salesforce installation before any of their employees sign-ins will work. It can be a great addition, but approach it like you would the underside of a ladder and anvil.
Though I voted for Yuri, and this isn't meant to contradict his answer. Google, LinkedIn and Salesforce login options should be #1.
However I would like to add that there are many smaller businesses that use Facebook strictly for business (and they usually have other personal accounts as well). You are also promoting an easy sign in / registration option for the visiting business. Having the option I think would be better than not.
It may be interesting to note that 37signals recently phased out their use of Open ID. They offer some major B2B apps and are known as forward thinkers so to reverse themselves on something like that is very noteworthy indeed.
All B2B is not the same of course. @Sam D accurately notes that SMB may gravitate toward Facebook whereas larger companies to Salesforce and others.