Buzzwords That Drive Brands Nuts

Digiday once considered banning buzzwords from all quotes. Then we realized we’d have very few quotes.

The industry is awash in terms that might have meant something at one point but since then have lost all meaning as they slid into jargon land. We’ve all heard them before. “Engaging,” “premium” and “inspire,” for example, are just three overused buzzwords.

Brands are top offenders. But they’re also forced to wade through buzzwords thrown around by agencies, publishers and vendors. Digiday reached out to several brand executives and asked which industry buzzwords make them sick.

George Haynes, social and digital media manager, Kia Motors
“Let’s think out of the box.” A lot of times this exercise ends up being more critical thinking and not much lateral thinking to generate anything remotely new. Instead of using this term, how about one simple word to replace it: “Why.” Let’s create a “viral” video is another. “Viral” is an outcome. And “seamless,” because most times it’s not.

Kasey Skala, digital communication manager, Great Clips
The term that’s been getting thrown around lately that bugs me is “social business.” All too often, we attach “social” to something, and we preach that it’s this new concept and thinking that businesses need to grasp. You need to be a social business. No, you need to be a smart business and adapt to the changing landscape. In order to sustain growth and remain relevant, you adapt and evolve to meet the needs of your stakeholders — both internally and externally. This isn’t a new concept that requires a fancy buzzword —  it’s the basic principles of Business 101.

Carolin Probst-Iyer, manager, digital consumer insights, Chevrolet
“Social commerce,” “social programming,” “social content,” “big data,” “cloud,” “social gaming” and “gamification.” All of these are expressions for things and issues that have always been around. Those words just make them seem all new, which, in reality, they are not.

Craig Daitch, communications manager, Ford
The term “big data” has jumped the shark with muddied definition as more marketers sink their teeth into the term to impress those who don’t quite understand what it means.

Scott Gulbransen, director of social business strategy, H&R Block
Engagement, influencer, millennial and shareable. They bug me because they’re overused. A word like influencer, I know, is generic. But I think as a new marketing practice, social can’t be lazy and just use simple words to describe things that have strategic underpinnings. We need to educate and inform, and those words just lump lots of important things into short words. We need to advocate for the discipline and make sure we’re being descriptive.

Carmen D’Ascendis. director, global marketing, Jack Daniels
The  most overused buzzword in 2012 was “engagement,” without doubt. The need to have “engaged” consumers is essential to grow brand advocacy. But I am afraid the word has been tainted by its association with social media and so many brands’ desire to chase fans. I’m looking for an alternative — any suggestions?

Brian Maynard, director of marketing, Jenn-Air
I think the one I am most sick of is Curation. It seems as though we curate everything now, including these words. Two others that may not be specific to digital are paradigm, paradigm shift and Out of the box thinking.

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