Interview: Barney Santos

“5 Questions” is an occasional feature in which we ask five questions of Downey business and community leaders. This week’s participant is Barney Santos, a social media expert and founder of Gentefy. Interview conducted by Eric Pierce  

1.) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Certainly, I suppose I can call myself a passionate “Serial Entrepreneur” since, over the last decade, I’ve been constantly designing and testing fresh ideas on how to start up or revamp businesses towards their fullest potential.

I guess my obsession with business started as a young kid, at 8 years old, when my father and I started selling handmade key-chains I designed at the Santa Monica Pier to tourists. The thrill of being able to come up with an idea and actually make money from the execution of it was something that really resonated with me.

Since then, over the last 12 years, I’ve been launching businesses in the for-profit and non-profit spaces. Some of these businesses did exceptional, and others, well, let’s just say they were really good tax write-offs. After everything is said and done, I’m really just a Latino businessman from Downey who loves his family, the hustle, and a really good steak with friends.

2.) What, exactly, is Gentefy?

Gentefy is an organization that helps local businesses generate more customers from Latino communities by using culturally-focused social media marketing. Our aim from day one has always been to help out Latino communities stay true to its cultural identity while also helping ignite the progressive movement toward a new modern creative economy.

3.) What are some simple things businesses can do to improve their social media presence?

If a business wants to “turbocharge” their online presence, then what I suggest is to focus on delivering consistent content 2-3 times a week which focuses on what I like to call the “3-P’s”; Personal, Passion, and Promotion.

See, social media isn’t a “you talk, they listen” platform, its a conversational platform that allows you, the business owner, to build relationships with your customers. Think of social media as a relationship bank account -- the more deposits you put into it, in the form of valuable content, the more you can withdraw later, in the form of a call to action, when there are “enough funds”.

The reason why most social media marketing fails is because businesses treat this like an ATM that has $50,000,000 in it. The truth of the matter is if you’re not providing consistent value content centered around the “3-P’s” then you’re pretty much trying to withdrawal $50 when your account only has $5 in it and that just doesn’t work.

This is the main reason why most businesses will try social media marketing, but get discouraged and quickly give up afterward because they don’t see their desired results.

To be one hundred percent honest, social media is hard work, requires knowledge, a long-term investment of time, and an understanding that it’s always evolving and changing. The faster business owners can jump on board and develop a game plan, then the faster they can assimilate to today’s modern way of communicating.

4.) Social media is a constantly changing industry, and I sense some companies are afraid to invest resources in something they deem a fad. What do you say to people who are afraid to embrace Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

I would say that they are 100% correct in feeling this way. I mean, let’s be honest, Facebook just turned 10 years old this past year, Twitter is only like 8, and Instagram only 4. So they’re completely right in feeling like it’s a fad because it’s still fairly new.

However, with that fear comes the brutal realization that things have already changed, and if businesses don’t adapt then they might be left behind to play catch up.

See, business owners have to start understanding that they’ve got to get rid of their old school ways of marketing to their audience. Targeting people with outdated marketing strategies from five years ago will have people running to other business that cater to their needs. What I mean is, if you look at all the traditional ways of marketing, including magazine ads, banner ads, billboards, flyers, and email, what you’ll see especially amongst people between 16-40 is that their eyes are attached to their smartphone. People aren’t picking up their local Pennysaver to shop for deals, they’re throwing away every single piece of junk mail that arrives at their house and inbox, and they’re not even looking at billboards any longer.

In today’s society the use of social media sites is an essential. People no longer write letters or use a pay phone to communicate with one another. They use media sites and updated technology to communicate, and if businesses want to participate in this conversation, then owners must adapt and plug themselves into this medium.

That’s where Gentefy comes in. We understand our Latino communities and with our experience with social media marketing; We can help our clients reach their growth potential. In fact, for a reasonable fee you can hire us to handle all your social media so you don’t have to. We’ve made the process simple, affordable, and fun to work with us.

5.) You have some things cooking for 2015. Can you share details?

I’m currently working with the exceptional guys at Stay Gallery/Downey Art Vibe to bring a new grassroots initiative called Startup:Downey together.

With this new initiative we’re going to focus on new innovative events, workshops, and collaborations to get the entire community participating in its economic development. As of right now we’ve been approved to bring Google’s StartupWeekend to Downey in early 2015 and we’re working on bringing TEDx to the city next year as well. Part of our vision with this initiative is to help engage the citizens of this city to become co-collaborators in the creation of a more creative, innovative, and advanced community.

A good example of what we’re trying to help accomplish through this partnership is this group of students from Warren High, who started a club called Stay Connected. Their amazing mission is to create meaningful volunteer opportunities about issues that matter to their age group within the city. We’re helping develop a curriculum to teach them design thinking, a methodology developed at Stanford, so that they can use empathy, fast prototyping, and innovation to help their volunteers solve community issues.  Ultimately, our hope is to help usher in the next generation of innovators, change agents, and disruptors within our very own city, so that the future of Downey continues to remain a future unlimited.

If you have questions or want to see how you can get involved you can reach me on Twitter at @barneysantos or email



Published: Aug. 7, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 17