Dan’s 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including social media, customer service, marketing, and digital customer experience.
Dan is the author of the book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. He also co-hosts the Experience This! podcast.
A frequent speaker, blogger, and Tweeter, Dan has been named to several notable industry lists, including:
- “The 30 Most Influential People in Social Customer Service” by Conversocial
- “50 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Follow” by TopRank Marketing
- “The Top Digital Marketing Influencers in 2018” by Whatagraph
Dan holds a B.A. in psychology and communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. in marketing and strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. For more info, visit www.winningatsocial.com.
HOW DID YOU GET TO BECOME AN EXPERT IN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?
First of all, I don’t think there’s such a thing as an “expert” in social media, because the field changes so rapidly. As soon as you feel you’re an expert at something, one of the platforms changes an algorithm and it’s back to the drawing board! That said, my 20-year marketing career served as a good background for social media, which is really just a more personal way of marketing to people.
My first job was at The Danbury Mint, one of the country’s largest producers and sellers of high-end collectibles like plates, dolls, figurines, and sports memorabilia. It was there that I learned direct response marketing in direct mail, FSIs, magazines, etc. I also spent nearly 10 years at Discover Card in various marketing roles, the last of which was Head of Digital Customer Experience. Then I went to healthcare at Humana leading Digital Marketing, and to McDonald’s leading global social media. I finally tired of corporate America and recently joined a startup called Persado! It uses AI and machine learning to predict the best possible language for marketing campaigns using human emotions as a guide. I was a two-time client who saw it work so well that I wanted to join the company! (More on that here.)
WHAT AREAS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING ARE YOU MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT?
- That social media is the first (and only) marketing channel where people can talk back. Brands had been used to “megaphone” channels like TV, radio, and billboards, and suddenly there’s a new channel where the customer’s voice can be heard. This shifted the power from brands to consumers, and I found it fascinating to see how brands reacted.
- Certainly I found passion in the customer service portion of social media, particularly because so many brands were unprepared for it to become a major source of inbound inquiries. My book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, details the strategies that successful brands have used to engage with customers and provide remarkable experiences on the world’s most public customer service channel.
- Recently I’ve been very interested in social media’s role in the customer experience, and the determining factors of what gets shared. The brands that are proactive in creating memorable experiences are finding that people are just as willing to share positive experiences as negative ones, so the goal should be to ensure that the brand lovers are louder than the haters.
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INFLUENCERS INFLUENCE YOU?
OUTSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING WHO ELSE INFLUENCES YOU?
- Digital Experience: Brian Solis
- Customer Experience: Joey Coleman (my podcast co-host)
- Customer Service: Shep Hyken
- Content Marketing: Marcus Sheridan
- Business: I think Howard Schultz is a genius
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OFFLINE INFLUENCE?
Throughout my career, I’ve followed my passion. I’m a rarity of sorts in the sense that I work full-time and still manage to speak, write blogs (and a book!) and co-host a podcast. But I do all of those things because I’m passionate about them. I love talking about customer experience with people because all of us have had good and bad experiences with brands that are memorable. I also take a lot of pictures of signs and other fascinating pieces of the experience when I’m out and about at restaurants, stores, etc. And I recently joined a startup because I am passionate about its technology and how it can drastically influence marketing results.
WHAT ARE GOING TO BE THE KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE INDUSTRY IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?
I believe that customer experience will become the last true differentiator in most industries. Not only are price wars a losing battle, but many consumers today are less price-sensitive than in the past and are willing to pay for better service or a better experience. Products are easy to copy, even in revolutionary industries (look at Uber and Lyft). But experience – and the people behind that experience – are the most memorable, impactful differentiator that is almost impossible to copy.
IF A BRAND WANTED TO WORK WITH YOU, WHAT ACTIVITIES WOULD YOU BE MOST INTERESTED IN COLLABORATING ON?
I love speaking to engaged audiences who really want to become customer-obsessed like I am, so I am always looking for great speaking opportunities. And in my day job I am always happy to talk with companies who want to be amazed at what a computer can do with marketing language that humans simply cannot.