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Social Media Customer Service: How-To Guide & Useful Tools

Ryan Baum
Ryan Baum
Last updated on 
November 21, 2022
April 17, 2022
Social Media Customer Service: How-To Guide & Useful Tools

Your social media presence serves many purposes, from creating a brand image to testing out new product ideas. And whatever type of social media posts your brand creates, one thing is certain: people are going to reach out to you there.   

Using social media as a support channel can be unwieldy and time consuming for ill-equipped teams. Customer inquiries pop up in many different places, like in the comments on your paid ads, in direct messages, or as comments on your posts. The tricky part is keeping up with the customer service issues that arise while still maintaining a positive, engaging presence. 

However, the benefits of social media customer service outweigh the negatives, especially with the right tools and approach. 

Below, learn how to leverage your social media channels for customer support in ways that stand out to your customers and support your team. 

How is social media used in customer service?

Social media customer service is when brands answer support queries through one or more social media platform. Support tickets often come in through direct messages (DMs) or as comments on paid ads or organic posts. This differs from social media marketing, as it’s a largely reactive type of engagement.   

Service interactions on social media usually happen: 

1) As part of an omnichannel approach to meet customers where they are

Social media can be used as a way to further connect with your customers and potential customers in the spaces they’re already active in. When teams answer support across different channels that seamlessly connect, that’s part of an omnichannel approach. And, according to research from Shopify, 58% of people claimed that their purchase decision was influenced by getting support on their preferred channel.  

2) To manage brand reputation and resolve public comments privately 

Beyond answering direct messages from customers on social media platforms, maintaining a brand presence on social media helps you keep tabs on mentions of your brand, as well as engage and provide customer support via comments or threads

Showing customers that your brand is available whenever they have an inquiry builds trust. In fact, 69% of Facebook users in the U.S. who message businesses report that it makes them feel more confident about the brand, according to Meta for Business.  

In addition, social media is a public form where anyone can view comments, whether they’re positive or negative. Everyone who looks at your brand’s social page will be able to take a look at what people are saying. Because of this, it can define what people think of you and change your brand’s perception. 

These customer queries get the most eyes on them by far as compared to a one on one channel like email, direct messages, interacting with a chatbot, or making a phone call.  

3) To offer support in the format and on the channels people like to use 

Not everyone wants to make a phone call when they need help. 

Shoppers are more likely to actually reach out to you if they can do it on a channel they like, as opposed to not reaching out and just being upset and posting about that publicly, telling their friends, or simply never purchasing from you again.  

 

📚Recommended reading: Should you delegate social media to your customer support team?

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How social media customer service differs from traditional customer service methods

It’s (sometimes) public

Customer support via social media differs from traditional email or phone support because it’s public, so your customer support team members’ responses are on display for others to see. 

While emails, phone calls, or direct messages are handled privately, Instagram comments, public tweets, or Facebook comments are public to your entire audience. The way your support team handles these customer interactions could influence your future sales and brand perception.  

High volume requests across many channels can get lost

Customer service requests on social media can get out of hand quickly because they can come in through many different channels in many different ways. If your team isn’t using some level of automation or a tool to capture each query, it’s easy to lose comments and ignore upset customers who really need support. 

Each social media platform is different 

To provide excellent customer service on social media, your social media customer support reps have to consider the nuances of each social media platform as well. Depending on your brand, you may use LinkedIn, TikTok, or even Snapchat for customer service. Below, we focus on three of the most common social media channels:

Social media platforms: Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Facebook.

Facebook (and Facebook Messenger)

According to research by the Pew Research Center, Facebook is the second most popular social media channel with 69% of US adults saying that they use it. The research center also found that Facebook is popular with all different demographics, so chances are you’ll find some of your target audience there. Because Facebook is such a large platform, it’s important that you have some sort of presence there. 

📚Recommended reading: Best practices for using Facebook Messenger for customer service

Twitter 

When answering customer questions on Twitter, opt for speed. Twitter is built on the idea of immediacy and short-form in-the-moment takes. According to a study conducted by Twitter, one in four people Tweet at a brand because they want a faster response. 

📚Recommended reading: Best practices for using Twitter for customer service

Instagram 

Instagram has pivoted into a shopping platform. People are scrolling through family photos just as much as they’re shopping for items and discovering new ecommerce stores. According to Shopify’s Future of Commerce report, 30% of US internet users now make purchases without leaving the social platform they’re on. Now, Instagram claims that half of users use Instagram Shopping to make a purchase weekly. 

These shoppers need to be able to get support in-app because they want to make purchases without exiting the app as well. If your business doesn’t offer support on Instagram, you could lose sales. 

📚Recommended reading: 9 Tips to Improve Customer Service on Instagram

4 strategies for better social customer care

There are four major strategies you can implement in order to use your social media customer service channels in the most successful ways possible. 

1) Have genuine conversations with your customers 

As mentioned above, social media is casual and customers will reach out on social media instead of a traditional method because they want a genuine answer without the formalness of an email. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or even WhatsApp to build relationships with your customers by having engaging conversations.

When a customer feels that your brand is being genuine they are more likely to trust you, become a loyal customer, and write a review or recommend your brand to their family and friends. This can lead to more new customers because 60% of consumers believe customer reviews are trustworthy, according to HubSpot Research. Even more, SuperOffice finds that 86% of customers are ready to pay more if it means they get a better customer experience. What all of this means is that building relationships with each and every customer will lead to the further success of your brand. 

📚Recommended reading: The Ultimate Guide to Personalized Customer Service

2) Move conversations into direct messages  

When you’re replying quickly to a lot of questions, it's sometimes easy to forget that you’re essentially in a public forum. Make sure you have systems in place to prevent customers’ personal information like phone numbers, shipping addresses, or order numbers from being viewed by the whole internet. Additionally, in the event of more complicated issues, you can comment publicly and ask the customer to private message (DM) you to help them resolve their issue. This shows that your brand is responsive to customer comments, but also that you value your customers’ privacy.

If you’re using a helpdesk like Gorgias, you can send and receive DMs on Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger from right within your helpdesk. You can create a template, called a Macro in Gorgias, for moving public social media conversations to DMs. Here’s an example for Twitter: 

📚Recommended reading: Your Live Chat Support Guide: Benefits, Best Practices, and Helpful Tools

3) Share self-service style content

Another great use for your brand’s social media account is sharing self-service content. Oftentimes, customers ask the same questions over and over again. To help them get their questions answered quickly and efficiently, it can be beneficial to track which questions are very common and put together a document or self-service page to direct them to. 

Information that can be common to include in this type of document is contact information, return policy information, shipping information, and location information if your brand has brick-and-mortar locations. This proactive information also helps keep customer support freed up for the more complicated, in-depth customer inquiries coming through social media. 

Source: Branch

If you’re interested in setting up a self-service customer service page, consider working with an ecommerce helpdesk platform like Gorgias.

Consider sharing your most popular FAQ page on social channels

Though it can be extremely beneficial to direct customers on social media to a separate webpage that allows for self-service options, consider sharing your most popular FAQs on social channels. This will create more ease of use for customers and potentially get their questions answered even quicker. 

3) Create a handle specifically for customer service support

Depending on the size of your business, it may be a good idea to consider creating separate social media handles dedicated to customer support. This can be especially helpful for customers who have specific support needs. You can cross-promote your two different social pages on both accounts for ease of use. This way customers will be able to identify where to go for the quickest answer. In the event that a customer contacts the wrong social media account, it is important that a customer service rep responds to them from the correct account. This way, they’ll know where to reach out in the future. 

This practice can also be beneficial for your internal teams, if you have two different teams within your organization managing social media. For example, your marketing team may be running ads and posting content, while your customer success team is sifting through comments and messages to tend to customers’ needs. Having two separate accounts can make it way easier on your internal teams, as well as keep everything more organized.  

4) Reply quickly to exceed customer expectations

As mentioned previously, quick responses are vital to a great customer service experience. This is especially true in the context of social customer service. Social media moves extremely fast, and customers expect speedy replies. 

The longer a customer service agent waits to reply, the less likely the customer will be satisfied with the support you provide. However, it can be a tricky balance to respond quickly (which you can measure with metrics like average response time and resolution time) while also maintaining quality (which you can measure with metrics like customer satisfaction or net promoter score). 

If you’re first starting out with customer service on social media, it may be helpful to understand what your customer base expects. To do this, you can consider asking them to fill out surveys. Surveys can also be used to continuously track customer satisfaction

📚 Recommeded reading: Our list of the most important customer support metrics to track.

Pro tip: Respond within 15 minutes (if possible)

This can be difficult outside of business hours, but if you have customer care team members who already work at night or on the weekends, this could help immensely. You can also dedicate space in your social profile’s bio to business hours and typical response times. This is a great way to manage expectations if you have a smaller team or are in an extremely busy time period. 

How Gorgias helps ecommerce stores offer helpful, efficient customer service on social media

When it comes to support, social media management gets challenging quickly. Even though your marketing team could attempt to keep up with comments or messages that require support, as your brand grows, it’ll only get harder. 

A helpdesk like Gorgias has functionality that helps you to keep track of all social support mentions in one place, lets you create pre-written templates for common questions, and can even automate responses or like and hide posts on your behalf. It helps create workflow automations for your team to deal with high amounts of volume. 

Bring all social media platforms into one unified helpdesk.

What can you respond to from within Gorgias?

Before you implement a helpdesk like Gorgias, you’ll likely want to let your social team research what kind of responses do and don’t work for your target audience, and then start getting good results. Then, that’s where Gorgias comes in: Take those learnings, manufacture efficiency with Gorgias, and pass the support side of the channel onto your support team to set channels more on autopilot. 

Here’s what you can respond to on each channel from Gorgias’s central platform. 

  • Facebook and messenger: Respond to comments, ad comments, mentions where you’re tagged, and direct messages.  
  • Twitter: Manage Twitter interactions like replies, mentions, and direct messages. 
  • Instagram: Respond to Instagram messages, comments, ad comments, and mentions from posts and Stories. 

Leverage autoresponses 

Especially on paid ads, sometimes there are just too many comments for a small team to manage without letting support quality falter.

Gorgias lets you autorespond to posts based on sentiment, so you can like promoter posts or auto hide angry or inappropriate comments. Auto-liking shows engagement without spending tons of time on going through each post on every channel daily.  

This has helped themed party apparel brand Shinesty increase revenue. “The Facebook ad commenting has been very interesting,” says CX Manager Cody Szymanski. “People have been converting right there thanks to a simple social interaction.”

See all customer interactions in one central place 

“Having quick access to the side bar is super convenient and helps us turn our support agents into sales people. For instance, if a potential customer asks a question about sizing, the agent can quickly have a look at their previous order info,” the team at MNML shared. 

This way, you can also see the customer’s entire history, including order info, past support interactions, and comments on social channels. 

Unify customer support conversations in one place.

Create Macros for common social interactions

Most likely, you’ll start to see the same questions or comments come in across social channels. Gorgias lets you create Macros, or templates, for the most common customer service messages you get on social media. This saves time for your support team and gets resolutions to your customers faster. 

Follow the conversation across social channels

Like a Facebook comment, send a shipping status in a private Instagram message, or answer questions on Twitter – all from Gorgias’s centralized helpdesk.

Must-have social media customer service tools

Now that you have some solid social media customer service strategies, the next step is to understand how to streamline the process through social media customer service tools. Below we’ll cover how Gorgias, Chatdesk, Gatsby, ShopMessage, and Octane AI could help your brand. 

Gorgias

Gorgias is an all-in-one customer service platform built specifically for ecommerce brands that seamlessly integrates with your entire stack (Shopify and Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, and Magento). 

Through the platform,  you can manage all of your organization’s customer service channels in real time, from live chat to email to social media. When it comes to social media specifically, there are many integrations Gorgias has that can allow your team to transition to social media customer service while keeping sales flowing and without slowing down support. 

Learn more about how Gorgias can help you manage social media customer service with ease.

Chatdesk

Chatdesk is a social media monitoring app that allows your customer support team members to manage social moderation across Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. It also integrates with email and chat.

Gorgias’ Chatdesk integration could be perfect for your brand if you strive to respond quickly — and around the clock — to all your Facebook comments, Instagram comments, DMs, and more. The app even allows for in-depth response personalization for your U.S.-based super fans.

Related: Our list of the best social media integrations for Shopify.

Gatsby

The next tool within Gorgias that will help your brand with social media customer care is Gatsby. Gatsby is a type of social listening app that allows your customer success team to view and track insights specifically on Instagram when responding to tickets, as well as track mentions and engagement for your brand. This tool can also be used to automate ecommerce influencer workflows

Here’s how it could work for you: With Gorgias and Gatsby integration, the tools can help you identify influential fans among your customer base. So, if someone is reaching out to support, you’ll be able to see if they are of “influencer status” thus, taking into account how they should be prioritized. This information can also be extremely valuable if you’re running customer engagement or customer satisfaction surveys.

ShopMessage

If your organization is heavy on Facebook Messenger — or if you’re hoping to expand in that area — ShopMessage could be a worthwhile tool you can integrate within your already-existing Gorgias platform. This tool sends messages to customers that can drive sales. It can contact customers via Facebook Messenger about things like abandoned carts, browser abandonment, welcome communications, upsells, shipping notifications, and custom Messenger menus. 

ShopMessage also has the capabilities to help your customer success team with Facebook Messenger Marketing by making it simple to set up automatic, personalized messages to your customers. 

Octane AI

Octane AI works as a messenger bot platform to help you and your team automate your brand’s conversations on social media channels. It works like this: When a customer sends a message to your brand via social media, Octane AI will automatically create an open ticket in Gorgias.

This means it’s simpler than ever to respond to your customers as quickly as possible. Having all your messages from various social networks in one place will also help prevent any from slipping through the cracks, thus creating an amazing customer experience.

Learn more about how Gorgias and Octane AI integrate.

Real-life examples of social media customer service

Finally, to complete your understanding of social media customer service, we’ve rounded up some real-life examples of companies using social media for customer service. We hope these leaders of industry can inspire your future strategies. 

Graza 

Trendy squeezable olive oil shop Graza has become the choice for influencers filming content in their kitchens. The fun bottles are filled with liquid gold: high quality olive oil for sizzling and drizzling. With 24k followers on Instagram, the brand is growing, and its audience is highly engaged. 

Recently, the brand ran a big promotion — but a loyal customer missed out because they had made a big order before the sale started. Graza responded to their comment, asked them to send in a DM, and implied that they would honor the promotion on that order. 

Graza uses Gorgias to help manage their social media interactions at scale. 

Instagram customer support from Graza.
Source: Graza

Nike

Nike currently has 9 million followers on its main Twitter page, @Nike, and about 202,000 followers on its customer service Twitter page, @NikeService. Nike is a perfect example of a brand utilizing both types of social media accounts to its advantage. For example, the brand often receives complaints from upset customers on its main Twitter account, but responds to the customer with its @NikeService account. 

Here’s an example of a recent Twitter exchange where Nike handled a negative comment from an unhappy customer with ease and professionalism. 

Twitter customer service from Nike.
Source: Nike

This post is a truly stunning example of responding quickly in the public eye but directing the customer to a DM in order to understand their situation in more detail. 

GoPro

Technology company known for its action cameras, GoPro is another great example of solid social media customer service. The brand doesn’t have dedicated customer service accounts on social media, but is highly active and quick to respond to customers posing questions in the comments on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. 

For technology companies especially, it’s highly beneficial to have customer success reps who can answer customer questions with precision and accuracy. However, regardless of the industry your company is in, quality should always be a priority when responding to customers on social media. This also helps signal to other customers that you take your social media seriously, thus making others feel more comfortable to reach out there if they have a question or concern. 

Here’s one recent example of an in-depth response to a vague GoPro customer inquiry. 

Twitter customer support from GoPro
Source: GoPro

Starbucks

Beyond staying on top of customer inquiries and troubleshooting on social media, the opportunity social media presents when it comes to building customer loyalty and brand identity can’t be overstated. Starbucks is a great example of a brand that is doing just this. The company has a distinct voice on all of its social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) as it interacts with customers on a daily basis. Even something as simple as a heart emoji on Instagram comments, or a quick, sweet encouragement when a customer comments about how much they love a signature Starbucks creation can do a lot to create a brand that customers want to interact with. This also helps customers feel more connected to the brand. 

Starbucks also takes this approach further when it comes to responding to customer suggestions. For example, the Facebook post below shows a concerned customer sharing their ideas about creating more accessible Starbucks stores after the brand shared a post about its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. Starbucks responds promptly and thanks the customer along with more information about how the company is sticking to its inclusivity and accessibility goals. 

Facebook comments from Starbucks.
Source: Starbucks

Wayfair

Online home decor and furniture retailer Wayfair is another brand with standout social media customer service chops. Though the brand doesn’t have separate customer service social media channels, it is constantly keeping up with customer comments. Wayfair currently has 78,000 followers on Twitter, over 7 million likes on Facebook, and 1.7 million followers on Instagram. 

Through its social channels, the company displays another great way to interact with customers on social media about its products. Because the brand sells home goods, many social posts are interior design photos featuring their furniture, which elicits a lot of customer questions about which pieces are which, and where they can purchase them. Wayfair does a great job of responding to customers’ product questions with clear and concise information. Take a look at one example below:

Instagram comments from customer support teams.
Source: Wayfair

Xbox

Lastly, we want to highlight the video game console company Xbox. The worldwide success of the company means there are also a lot of customers who have questions and want their voices heard. Xbox does a great job responding to customer complaints and questions via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, however, the brand also makes it a point to have some fun with their responses, too —  further connecting with customers on a personal level. 

It can be really challenging for massive brands to show personality and remind customers that there are people behind the scenes who actually care and like to have fun, but social media is the perfect channel to make this fact known. The brand recently launched a marketing campaign featuring actor Andre Braugher where he is promoting Xbox’s new All Access monthly subscription service. The video was posted to all of Xbox’s social channels, and the brand took the opportunity to connect with customers in the comments.

Here are a few snapshots of how they are doing it:

A social media video shared by Xbox
Source: Xbox

A social media meme from Xbox. Great example of silly customer support on Twitter.
Source: Xbox

Enhance your social media customer service with Gorgias 

From troubleshooting customer issues and answering their questions to simply showing off your brand's personality, social media customer service can be an extremely effective avenue to explore to boost your company’s customer experience quality. 

Jumping into social media customer service for the first time can be exciting but also a lot of work, so to help make the process a bit easier, we recommend checking out Gorgias for an all-in-one solution for your customer service team that also has standout live chat tools and amazing integrations.

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