If there’s one thing content marketers have in common, it’s that they love a good, well-worn buzzword. We hear them every day, in blogs, meetings, webinars and just about anywhere else that the finer points of marketing are discussed. We all have personal favorites – crutches really – to go along with our pet peeves.
At one point, these phrases actually stood for something, but over time, they’ve been co-opted and abused to the point of signifying virtually nothing at all.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of relying on overused terms to convey your marketing brainchildren and sell your strategic vision. But by doing so, you’re basically saying, “I don’t have any fresh ideas of my own.”
That can all change, though! It’s a new year – a time of self-improvement. Our humble request: Make your New Year’s resolution to remove these buzzwords from your personal lexicon once and for all:
1. Low-hanging fruit: Rotten marketing apples
Content marketers did not invent the term “low-hanging fruit,” but they can probably take credit for driving it straight into the ground. We hear it all the time in reference to quick site changes that immediately increase traffic, sessions and impressions.
It’s not that “low-hanging fruit” is misused, inaccurate or vague – it’s just a cliched way of saying something’s easy. No need to dress it up with a buzzword we’ve all heard a million times before, just say “easy.” You can probably throw “quick wins” onto the pile of discarded buzzwords as well.
*Did you know? Variations of “low-hanging fruit” date back to the 17th century. The marketing community has successfully killed a 400-year-old phrase. That’s gotta count for something.
2. Snackable content: Empty calories
There’s something about describing content as “snackable” that just gets on your nerves. For one, the issue that you’re really getting at here is accessibility and readability. When we talk about snackable content, we mean blogs, videos and infographics that can be digested quickly during the course of your audience’s busy day.
Do we really need a separate category for that? Isn’t most marketing content designed to be quick, easy reads? Is anyone out there trying to corner the market on “War & Peace”-style tomes?
True, a white paper will never be considered snackable, but it doesn’t have to be a dry, boring slog to get through, either.
Snackable isn’t just irritating, it’s kind of stating the obvious. Nothing is snackable because everything already should be.
3. Omnichannel marketing: Proof positive that you should never let academics coin marketing terms
If you weren’t already aware, “omni” is a prefix derived from the Latin “omnis” – meaning “all.” So, omnichannel is just a very fancy way of saying all of the channels.
You don’t need a special, college-boy word to talk about your marketing channels like they collectively come together to form a distinct, separate entity. It’s not a Megazord.
And don’t even get me started on the debate between “omnichannel” and “the omnichannel.
4. Influencer marketing: Social distortion
At its core, influencer marketing makes perfect sense: You strike up a partnership with a trusted, popular voice in your industry and have them mention your products or brand in social media posts. They spread the word to their followers, and suddenly your brand awareness has gone through the roof.
So, what’s the problem? Well, part of the issue with influencer marketing is how often it goes wrong – and when it does, it goes very, very wrong. Bad influencer marketing campaigns are unnatural, unbelievable and absolutely transparent about their intentions. Social media platforms champion individuality and authenticity, but you often get the exact opposite when you dabble in sponsored Instagram posts.
More than that, though, it feels like a copout – a shortcut to creating a brand identity. Why spend your time and energy crafting a brand image and building up a core of dedicated followers, when you can just piggyback off of someone else’s brand and built-in audience? It’s a little bit cynical, even for marketing.
5. Growth hacking: 2010’s hottest trend
Ah, growth hacking, the marketing strategy du jour for startups everywhere. The basic concept is pretty sound: If your business is just getting off the ground and your main concern is growing your brand and creating awareness, then that’s what you should be putting all of your effort into.
Right out of the gate, growth hacking was a little too cute for its own good. Like CrossFit or paleo diets, its supporters took on an “us versus them” mentality that tended to rub people the wrong way. Acting like you reinvented the marketing wheel is never a good look, either.
All of that could be forgiven, but tacking on “hacking” to anything immediately dates the term. Even when Sean Ellis originally coined the phrase in 2010, it was met with a healthy dose of eye-rolling.
If you want to keep throwing down “growth hacking” like it’s some earth-shattering, new approach to marketing, just know the people around you think of this every time you utter that phrase:
6. Real-time advertising: When everything needs a name
Every marketer dreams of that big moment, when they spontaneously respond to some new development as it unfolds and the whole world is watching. It’s the dream of capitalizing on a highly visible trend right as it’s happening.
Major sporting events and awards ceremonies, when viewer numbers are at their absolute peak are the kinds of moments real-time advertising is gunning for. The more eyes, the better.
Marketers should always be aiming to benefit from the latest social media trends, but do we really need a special phrase for being extra quick to pull the trigger? Responding to new trends as they occur isn’t good “real-time marketing” – it’s just good marketing.
Of course, you can’t talk about real-time advertising without bringing up “micro moments,” which sounds absolutely precious, but shouldn’t come anywhere close to your digital marketing vocabulary.
7. Viral marketing: Big risk, probably not too much reward
There are plenty of things wrong with viral marketing – too many to name here – but the biggest problem is how many brands are willing to embarrass themselves for that slight chance to go viral. The truth is there is no magic formula to creating successful viral content and any strategy that is dependent on the whims of the internet of all things is destined to fail.
Besides, going viral isn’t always a good thing. To this day, Mountain Dew continues to trot out its one-time viral sensation, “Puppy Monkey Baby,” in advertisements. Why they do this is beyond me, because that hellish creation is the stuff of nightmares. It even freaked out R.L. Stine:
Did #Puppymonkeybaby come from a horror movie? It terrified me.
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) February 8, 2016
When P.M.B. was first revealed, it generated a lot of buzz on social media channels, but 54 percent of it was negative. Even if you successfully go viral, it could still blow up in your face.
8. ToFu, MoFu and BoFu: The lazy man’s marketing lingo
BoFu? Really? C’mon, man, you’re better than that.
You could even make the argument that top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel are a little played out, but their abbreviated forms are just heinous. Is the millisecond you save not having to say “bottom of the funnel” in its entirety worth the tradeoff of being a grown adult who says “BoFu” on a regular basis in front of your professional peers?
There are plenty more content marketing buzzwords kicking around that make people want to tear their hair out. Use the new year as an excuse to swear off these overused, empty phrases and get back to the fundamentals of content marketing: quality, value and relevance.
Got a bone to pick with a specific buzzword? Let us know which marketing lingo you’d like to see go away for good in 2018!