Customer complaints on social media are finally floating back down to Earth where they belong. Rather than lobbing stratospheric public posts, consumers increasingly prefer help over private direct message.

This is a huge relief for heads of customer service, PR, and marketing, but they aren’t completely in the clear – these customers still need quick and effective resolution and if they don’t get it, their fingers are still hovering over the big red button. It’s thus critical to meet them on these channels and even more critical that you choose the right ones.

Which raises the question: which direct message platform should you be on, Twitter or Facebook Messenger?

Despite their convergent product features, there are fundamental differences between the two platforms and they each require a unique approach.

Let’s look at Twitter DM and Facebook Messenger side by side:

1) Breadth

Breadth is about more than just how big each platform’s audience is – it’s about the scope of actions that customer service agents can take to resolve customer issues. Resolution, after all, is the name of the game.

While Facebook Messenger trumps Twitter in total user volume with 900 million users to Twitter’s 310 million, Twitter has the unique advantage of being a both public and private platform.

Whereas customer support agents on Facebook Messenger are limited to working with those consumers who initiate a conversation, on Twitter, support agents can eavesdrop on the entire universe of all public tweets looking for complaints to resolve. This is a significant advantage, as research by Conversocial shows that while 37% of all tweets are customer service related, only 3% are directed at brands.

With Facebook Messenger, it’s difficult to know what volume of customer complaints go undetected as peer-to-peer messages or private posts. In addition, Facebook further restricts brands by only allowing them to message customers within a 24-hour window following their last response (with a few exceptions.)

If Facebook does have one large advantage here, it is surely it’s ubiquity. The Pew Research Center reports that 68% of Americans use Facebook and three quarters of them check Facebook daily.

In sum, Twitter holds an advantage for those looking to provide proactive customer support.

2. Functionality

When it comes to issue resolution functionality, the lines become rather blurry. Dueling product updates have caused the two platforms to converge around widely accepted industry best practices. For example, both now offer:

  • Embedded shortcodes and chat support links
  • Users can search for brands via @ handles/usernames
  • User alerts and notifications
  • Extended Message length
  • Chat web link previews
  • Chat typing indicators
  • Group conversations
  • Automated welcome messages
  • Templated agent quick replies/prompts
  • Customizable chat bots

And with brand colors that are merely different shades of blue, their mobile interfaces are unsurprisingly similar:

Twitter DM Image.jpg facebook messenger customer support screenshot.png

However, Facebook Messenger does hold a few advantages over Twitter here. First, user identities are verified and persistent, meaning that they don’t need to re-authenticate themselves when dealing with brands. Second, Messenger has more aggressive notifications. It boasts a chat bubble widget that, by default, appears over other open apps. This pops up when they receive notifications from anyone, including a brand.

facebook-chathead.jpg Image Credit: Android Central

While Twitter may lack the chat bubble, it makes it easier for users to directly engage support via separate brand support handles which helps them get to the right place faster.

When it comes to features, Facebook Messenger comes out with a slide edge.

3. Resolution Time and Effectiveness

How will you compare the effectiveness of each platform? It of course depends upon your brand and upon which platform you see more activity and more meaningful resolutions. While you can push traffic to either via embedded “chat with us” buttons on your support page, your social, mobile, and digital-first consumers are in the driver’s seat and will show you which they prefer.

Here are some metrics that are important to track for comparison:

  • Inbound volume: How much traffic do you see and has it increased?
  • Case/conversation volume: How many unique cases are there, regardless of how multi-platform outreach from consumers?
  • First Response Time (FRT): How quickly do your agents respond to the first message?
  • Average Response Time (ART): How quickly do your agents respond to each message?
  • Average Handling Time (AHT): How long does it take to achieve resolution?

(For more metrics, download the Conversocial Definitive Guide to Social, Mobile Customer Service.)

Together these metrics will help #SocialFirst brands intuit their social customer support success and double down on the direct messaging platform that works best for them.

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