Customer Service

How Companies Use Social Media for Customer Service

December 29, 2020
3:09 pm

Everyone from great-grandmas to preteens is on social media. These platforms present a massive opportunity for brands to shine… and to suck.

With many customers writing reviews or asking questions on these platforms its crucial for businesses to use social media for customer service.

As social evolves, brands seek out the holy grail of organic content—but they must pay attention to the conversations that don’t go viral, and those are often centered around customer service.

If your brand is going to succeed on social media, you need to have a strategy for customer service.

But first, let’s look at the power of social media.

Why Social Media is Important for Customer Service

Brand presence on social media is more than posting content. Engaging with customers, especially in a service capacity, is a must. Just look at the stats:

  • According to Forrester, 80 percent of consumers use social to engage with brands.
  • Fifty-seven percent of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. (Ameyo)
  • Thirty percent of people will go to a competitor if a brand fails to respond on social media. (Sprout Social)

Customer service on social media can also help your company track trends such as the volume of inquiries and reasons why customers are reaching out. You’ll be able to plan better for things like seasonality, logistics challenges, and product releases.

How Successful Brands are Using Social Media for Customer Service

Social media customer service doesn’t have to focus on complaints alone. Top brands are tweeting back, having fun, thanking their customers, and even helping folks find the perfect shade of lipstick. We’ve compiled some fantastic examples of brands crushing social media customer service:


Hertz car rentals took home a Shorty Award for social customer care and for good reason. They operate almost 10,000 locations globally across three brands, which is no easy feat for customer service. On social media, they focus on fast response times (under 30 minutes) and turning negative experiences into positives with quick-thinking solutions like picking up the coffee tab while a customer waits for their car.

United Airlines

United Airlines is an innovator in digital customer service and uses social media to surprise and delight customers whenever possible. From free pizza to seat upgrades, they respond to customer posts and complaints quickly while showing their efforts in the public eye.


Glossier absolutely crushes customer service. From helping a bride find a sold-out fave for her wedding day to recommending products and applications (like the one pictured above), they are on top of social media engagement across every platform. Their efforts have been rewarded, too, with a fiercely loyal fan base.

These brands bring social media customer service to a new level. They respond quickly, personalize the experience whenever possible, and strive to turn frowns upside down when customers reach out. As a bonus, they avoid headlines like these that hurt their brand’s image:

'EasyJet has broken a cardinal rule of social media'

EA's comment on a Reddit thread [..] World Record for the most downvoted comment of all time

Best Practices for Social Media Customer Service

Now that you’ve seen some examples, let’s talk about best practices for social media customer service. There are a few general rules, plus tips for specific channels.

In general, you should be:

  • Telling customers when they can expect a reply and sharing your online hours. Many brands do this by highlighting their operating hours in their profile like Apple does in the screenshot below:
  • Acknowledging everyone—even if there isn’t a clear problem to solve. A simple “DM us with more information please” will do.
  • Outlining standards in place for tone, brand voice, and sign-offs such as agent names or initials.
  • Making it easy for agents to find and respond to messages. Using a unified dashboard ensures no Tweet, DM, or Snap goes unnoticed.

Best Practices for Using Facebook for Customer Service

Facebook offers a variety of ways for customers to get in touch with your brand. You should be checking Messenger, comments, and mentions to make sure nothing goes unanswered. Additionally when using Facebook for customer service, you should:

  • Use automated responses and instant replies to let customers know when to expect a reply or direct them to the right place.
  • Create and deploy away messages when your team is out of office.
  • Strive for a ‘Very responsive to messages’ badge by answering all messages quickly.
  • Monitor comment threads to ensure that replies are handled quickly and that other users can see you are actively addressing these messages.

Tips for Instagram Customer Service

Instagram is quickly transforming into a shopping destination, so it’s a clear choice for customer service. Here’s how to rock it:

  • Display support contact details in your bio, even if it’s an email or phone number.
  • Add contact buttons.
  • Save a story highlight dedicated to support FAQs.
  • Set up quick replies to reduce response time.

Related: How to Deliver Excellent Customer Service on Instagram

Best Practices for Customer Service on Twitter

Because of Twitter’s limited characters, it can be tough to solve a problem in one reply. But just because your responses are limited doesn’t mean you can’t deliver great service. Here are some tips for using Twitter for customer service:

  • Make escalation easy. Train your agents on the right paths and channels to escalate Tweets to, so customers aren’t left waiting.
  • Personalize replies. Adding a touch of personality to responses helps customers see that there are real people answering questions and that your brand isn’t simply copying and pasting the same information over and over.
  • Proactively share information like service outages or shipping delays. Pin these tweets to the top of your feed so customers can see the latest updates.
  • Take privacy into consideration. Only ask for personal information through DMs to prevent customer data from sitting out in the open. This protects both of you from nefarious parties who want to take advantage of your conversation.

Many of these golden rules apply across other popular social media platforms. However, it’s essential to understand the nuances of each audience—TikTokers and Redditors look very different.

One of the best ways to get a sense of each platform is to monitor brand mentions—particularly when your company hasn’t been tagged or alerted. Mentions are a big opportunity to change negative brand experiences into positive ones by addressing the customer’s complaint even when they don’t expect you to see it.

Measuring Social Media Customer Service Success

After investing in a social media customer service strategy, you have to measure success somehow. This takes a combination of more traditional contact KPIs and social media stats to provide the full picture. Here are the key metrics you should measure and report against:

  • First response time. How long are customers waiting to be addressed by agents?
  • Average response time per channel and for social media overall.
  • In addition to response time, SLA compliance is important to know if inquiries are getting resolved.
  • Volume of engagements and inquiries across each channel.
  • Sentiment of customer inquiries—how often are they positive and/or negative?
  • CSAT and NPS scores after the conversation. These are particularly helpful if a dedicated team handles social media.
  • Topic clusters that identify greater trends like defective products.
  • Deflection rate. How often are customers pushed to resolve their issue on other channels?

These metrics help you evaluate how much customer communication takes place on social, whether or not it’s effective, and how it impacts your customers’ experience with your brand.

Crafting a Scalable Social Media Customer Service Strategy

With how fast social platforms come and go, it can be tough to get a good strategy in place. Make yours scalable by thinking about the golden rules that apply across all channels, and ensure they’re put into practice. You’ll also want to evaluate if you need a dedicated social media service team or if blended agents can help you deliver the right level of service.

Another facet of your social strategy should be setting rules for when a conversation should be taken offline, out of the public sphere. This can be based on the number of back-and-forths or when sensitive information needs to be shared. These boundaries become critical when your team is managing hundreds of conversations a day.

Finally, to build a scalable strategy, plan how social media fits into your wider support and service channels. Be sure to evaluate if you can deliver the same experience across channels before adding a new one for the sake of adding it. For example, if your team isn’t on Snapchat to begin with, does it make sense to have one for support only? Probably not.

Social media customer service provides a huge opportunity for brands to win over their customers time and time again.

Curious about managing all of your channels in one place? Check out Acquire’s omnichannel customer support platform.