Social media for charities: customer service vs marketing

Social media for charities: customer service vs marketing

19th February 2021

By Philippa Jolliffe

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat… Social media has exploded over the past 15 years.

Ofcom figures show that 72% of UK adults are now signed up to one or more social media platforms.

Charities have seized the opportunities these platforms offer for communications and fundraising. But are they making the most of social media for customer service?

Social media and marketing

Charity communications teams have been using social media for well over a decade now. Thanks to inspiring success stories and rich content, it’s a cheap and effective way for charities to build brand awareness and reach new audiences.

Plus, the analytics tools offered by each platform provide charities with valuable insights into their audience and their reach.

Social media has huge potential from a fundraising perspective, too. For instance, for charity marathon runners to ask for sponsorship from their friends.

Nowadays, 80% of donations are made digitally, while various platforms allow for direct fundraising, such as Facebook and Instagram’s charitable giving tools. If you’re not using them, you’re missing out.


So, what are the charity social media trends for 2021? Increasingly, charities are turning to video to boost their social media presence. This is partly due to the influence of newer platforms such as TikTok and Snapchat, both popular with younger demographics.

Video doesn’t necessarily mean investing in huge amounts of equipment or software for your charity social media strategy: social media lends itself to spontaneous clips filmed on smartphones.

It all helps to build a more intimate, immediate connection with supporters, deepening engagement with your brand.

Social media and customer service

Of course, when you seek engagement with your supporters, you’re veering into what’s considered customer service territory.

People use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms to ask questions, give praise, or make complaints.

They may do so publicly, perhaps leaving a review or comment on your Facebook wall.

Or they might seek advice privately via Messenger or WhatsApp, both of which are owned by Facebook. Many customers find this a more convenient way to contact organisations than waiting on hold on a phone call; others simply feel more comfortable using this channel.

If your charity is too siloed, the social media staff who read these comments and queries will have a marketing bias. They risk responding incorrectly, as they lack the right training or access to the relevant knowledge.

Furthermore, if a customer makes a query by, say, phone and then follows up later through WhatsApp, your staff may not correctly link the two contacts and could miss vital information.

Redefining customer service

In fact, the rise of social media is prompting a change in the way that charities and other organisations must think about customer service.

Instead of viewing it as reactive or troubleshooting, you need to regard customer service as a way of reaching out to people and meeting their needs before they raise queries or complaints.

You need to think clearly and strategically about how your customer service, communications, fundraising, sales, service delivery and all other public-facing teams work together on social media, so you can offer your audiences a cohesive service.

An omnichannel approach to customer service

At Connect Assist, we take an omnichannel approach to customer service on the helplines we run on behalf of charities. Customer service on social media is one key medium.

No matter how a customer contacts our helplines – whether by phone, webchat, email or social media – his or her query feeds into the same system. It will be linked to other contacts from that same customer, and the advisor who responds will be able to view the entire interaction history.

That advisor will also have access to the relevant knowledge base, so they can provide the correct support, signposting or advice, no matter which channel is used.

To find out more about our outsourced contact centre services and our omnichannel approach, contact us today.


If you need our help in developing more effective, meaningful connections with customers, get in touch today.