Nobody cares about you. They don’t care how much passion you have for your business, they don’t care where you came from, and they don’t care about your family pictures on your Facebook page. They only care about what you can do for them.
“You know how I know this?” David Deutsch usually poses this question after hitting clients with this kind of opening salvo. “You don’t care about me.”
He’s right, so his clients tell him. And that’s fine; he accepts that they don’t care. Once this is out of the way, it’s easier to start planning his clients’ social media strategy. Which, chances are, they won’t need anyway.
Deutsch, founder and chief lead generator at SynergiSocial, a Flemington-based social media consulting firm, will bring his social-media’s-not-for-everyone approach to the Princeton Chamber’s “Engage. Learn. Connect. 2015” event on Thursday, June 11, at 7:30 a.m. at the College of New Jersey. Joining Deutsch will be Anita Zinsmeister, president of Dale Carnegie Training, Central & Southern New Jersey. Cost $40. Visit www.princetonchamber.org.
If Deutsch’s perspective on social media sounds like it comes from having learned his expertise the hard way, that’s because it was. Deutsch, a native New Jerseyan and son of a retired school teacher, has had what he calls an eventful life. At age 19 he moved to Baltimore, eventually enrolling in the University of Maryland, where he earned his bachelors in philosophy and economics in 1997.
In his mid-20s he started studying Mandarin, and he decided to study in China, because “screw it, I’m going to China.” Fortunately for him, the U.S. government agreed to pay his way, fully, and in 2000 he spent 10 life-changing months studying the language at Fudan University in Shanghai.
“China turned my whole life around,” Deutsch says. And not merely because he had to learn to accept as normal things like the pack of executives in business suits playing pool on the street. China also changed how he spoke and presented himself.
“Chinese people would ask such basic questions about language,” he says. “Like, I’d say ‘it went over my head’ and they would say ‘what are you talking about?’ They didn’t understand that. Learning Mandarin made me a much better English speaker, it taught me to speak more deliberately.”
Post-China, Deutsch was a real estate analyst and then an analyst/auditor for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., where he says he essentially just got people thrown in jail. He was unemployed for a while during some tough economic times, got fired a couple times because he just didn’t seem to fit in, and decided that he was “an entrepreneur, not an employee.” He refers to his condition as “professional bipolar disorder.”
Still, Deutsch attended graduate school, earning his master’s in communication management from USC in 2007. He has operated his own strategic communications businesses ever since, his latest being SyngergiSocial.
He also is director of social media and online strategy at Whitman Business Advisors, which began almost as a dare. “A colleague and friend of mine said ‘You say you can generate leads, prove it,’” Deutsch says. In just three months, part-time, he generated enough leads to bring about $2 million in new business. “She wasn’t skeptical after that,” he says.
Most people get social media wrong. Social media is one of those things like parenting — everyone knows it’s tough, the advice is endless, and most of what people tell you about it is wrong. Deutsch advises the exact opposite of the already-entrenched pitch-your-business approach, which usually boils down to a blunt instrument beating you to buy some stuff.
But if you see a pitch on Facebook, do you click it with your credit card in the other hand? Of course you don’t, says Deutsch. So why would you think anyone would do it for you?
“Stop calling it social media marketing,” he says. “What it is is meeting people. It’s not about what you can give me but about what I can do for you.”
Deutsch admits that this knowledge is not new. But it doesn’t mean people listen or that they know what they’re doing on social media. In fact, before you even figure out social media, forget about social media. You might not need it.
Wait, what? Deutsch sat down with a 40-person accounting firm upstate and asked what the company wanted from him. “They said `We want to generate buzz,’” he says. So he asked them what buzz was. They had no idea. All the company knew was that in the social media age, popularity in the form of likes, shares, and follows, is its own currency. But none of those pay the mortgage, Deutsch says.
Nevertheless, this attitude about social currency is distressingly common. And it’s premature. Everyone starts out focusing on likes, follows, and shares, but when Deutsch has asked companies what their actual business goals are, they’ve frequently responded with “You know what,” I don’t know,” he says.
So before getting to social media, Deutsch says you must know what you want to do. Define your goals and your mission, then use social media the way you use your telephone. Or your handshake. It’s just a tool. It’s not going to make you rich on its own. At least not without knowing exactly what you want to achieve.
How it applies. Once you know what your mission is, Deutsch says, you can start crafting your approach — and in some cases, you might find you don’t need LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter at all, you might do better just meeting people face-to-face, the old-fashioned way.
What’s important to remember always, he says, is that your own network — the people you already know, already have met, already talk to in business — is your greatest asset. Deutsch’s lead generating prowess is anchored in the immediate circles of his clients. He finds out who they know and he starts talking with these people.
And yeah, it’s really that simple. Perhaps because the technology that allows us to intimately converse with people we’ve never met in person is so complicated, we think that using it has to be tougher than it looks. But it isn’t. It’s just talking. Except that you’re talking through technology.
For example, let’s say you’re a dazzlingly handsome writer for a popular Princeton-area business journal. How would you use social media to help you? Deustch recommends starting with your LinkedIn groups. First, understand what you’re trying to achieve in your storytelling, then hit LinkedIn and tell people in your circle what you’re hoping to do — i.e., talk to area professionals about ways they have succeeded or failed in business and what lessons they could share with fellow entrepreneurs.
“You’d be shocked how much of a response you’d get,” he says. “Shocked.”
Shocked or not, the basics of getting to know people and offering to help them is the foundation of all this technological conversation, Deutsch says. You just have to remember that it is a conversation.
“People seem to forget that half of `social media’ is social,” he says