Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s digital marketing mix, helping brands of all sizes foster customer connections and engagement. But as more consumers use social media to “ring the bell” and gain access to the person who can help solve their problems, many find the social bell is out of order when it comes to customer service.
For social media wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, customer service is arguably one of the most important pieces of social media marketing.
“Social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage,” Dan told me in a recent interview.
With more than two decades building up his marketing wizardry, Dan knows a thing or two about ushering people through the emerald social media gates and providing great social care—and no ruby red slippers are required for entrance.
With that said, as part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Marketing Curtain interview series, today we’ll pull back the fabric and get to know more about how Mr. Gingiss arrived in the wonderful world of marketing, and share insights that can help inspire better customer service within your social media strategy, and perhaps kick a wicked habit or two.
The Man Behind the Curtain
Dan has spent most of his life and marketing career in the Chicago area—that’s his Kansas, he said.
“[Well], it’s not quite Kansas, but still the Midwest!” he joked.
And while Dan has been a marketer for more than 20 years, his numerous talents aren’t bound to any one industry. He also bills himself as a “pretty decent” pinball player and a grammar nerd—and he’s also a licensed bartender.
“[I got my bartender’s license] after taking a two-week night course after college and placing first in the speed drink-making contest,” he explained while also noting that there’s no fire or bottle flipping in his repertoire.
Dan is also a huge baseball fan—particularly when it comes to the Chicago Cubs club. But he’s arguably a pretty big Cleveland Indians fan, too; his all-time favorite movie is Major League.
“[It’s the] perfect combo of humor, a little bit of romance, and baseball!” he said.
As a marketer, he’s built his career as a marketing generalist. Borrowing a phrase from the John Fogerty song “Centerfield”—and keeping in line with his love of the game, Dan said: “I am a ‘put me in coach’ kind of guy. As a result, I’ve enjoyed domestic and global roles in B2C and B2B, product management, loyalty programs, and acquisition marketing.”
Over the last two decades, Dan has held positions at Discover Card, Humana, Diner’s Club International, and Mesirow Financial. Earlier this year, Dan joined McDonald’s Corporation as Senior Director of Global Social Media. He’s also a podcaster and the author of Winning of Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experience on Social Media.
So how did self-proclaimed marketing generalist land in a social media-specific role? We’ll cover that in the next section.
Following His Yellow Brick Road
As an undergrad student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan was majoring in Psychology and Communications—meaning he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he said. But, being the grammar nerd he is, he was the managing editor of the college newspaper. One evening, as he was pasting up the next day’s edition, he spotted an ad from MBI, Inc., a high-end collectibles company in Norwalk, CT that operates under The Danbury Mint brand.
“The ad promised to teach me ‘everything you…