The Great Buzzword Debate: Experts Weigh In

Buzzwords. These nouns, adjectives and verbs are either every content writer’s best friend, or a marketer’s most grating enemy. Sometimes coined “the most annoying means of promotion” in digital marketing, the technical definition of a buzzword is a word, phrase, or jargon trendy in a specific context. Big Data, earned media, viral marketing, synergy, snackable content, a 360 campaign, gamification, the list is long. But is it pointless?

Do these buzzwords work? Are they effective? Do they help cut through the clutter and grab the most valuable commodity of all these days: your attention? Or are they overly used, tired, and borderline unprofessional? The way you spell buzzwords is even debated: buzzwords, buzz words, buzz-words, or buzz wordz. With all these words flying around, I needed to pull in some opinions.

I conducted a survey asking some key marketing and social media influencers what they thought. The results may surprise you.

Erin Everhart, Director of Digital Marketing at 352, @erinever says:

There’s a really fine line with buzzwords. On one hand, there are those that are so overused that you can lose credibility (and other people’s interest) just by staying them. Things like: synergy, thought leadership, advertainment, and immersive experience. On the other hand, there are the buzzwords that relate to what’s happening in the industry. As a marketer, I want to use those buzzwords in my content writing because that’s what people outside the industry are just responding to. They’re hearing about, they want it, and they’re searching for it: So if you’re going to be found for it, you’ve got to use them. Those are things like: user experience, big data, content marketing.”

Sola Obayan, President & Dir. of Social Media Association of Michigan, @solao says:

“I think buzz words, when used appropriately, can be incredibly effective for content marketing. What doesn’t work is keyword stuffing.  I find buzz words useful and use them when they’re relevant. Social Media, social commerce, and social media marketing will always be appropriate buzz words to use when sharing social media related content.”

Ryan Evans, Owner of Lift Marketing, @ryanevans says:

“I HATE buzzwords. Buzzwords are used to impress people by making things sound complicated. But buzzwords don’t impress people. What impresses people is articulating a complex issue in a simple way then can understand. Being able to teach someone demonstrates your understanding of an issue. Teaching is impressive. Buzzwords aren’t.”

Wendy Kirwan, Director of Media Relations at Kars4Kids, @Wendy_Kirwan says:

“I’m not that into the use of buzzwords myself. Our industry is full of them but I really believe that usually, when someone uses a buzzword, they’re just disguising the fact that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. I’d say it’s important to have a good grasp of what the common buzzwords are, what they mean and how they are used so that you can follow conversations peppered with them and sound “in the know” when necessary, but generally, I’d avoid them like the plague. Especially in your writing.”

Oleg Korneitchouk, EVP, Director of Digital Marketing, @olegko says:

“Are buzz words dead? Absolutely not. Have their value diminished? Absolutely. Especially over the past year, everyone and their grandma has been plugging in as many buzz words as they can into their headlines. Buzzfeed are the champs of this – every title contains superlatives and buzz words. As people become accustomed to these phrases, their novelty and effectiveness will diminish. That being said, buzz words still trigger certain parts of our brain that peak our interests and make them powerful marketing tools. I think the future of buzz words lies in using novel/trending (e.g. super bowl, NSA, Olympic)and powerful, genuine conversational expressions (e.g. explode, sideline, bounce). For example, “The Super Bowl Tweet that Landed me a Fortune 500 Client” & “How Your Business Can Win Gold During the Olympics”. Basically, use things that currently attract the public’s attention and leverage it to get your message across.”

After this small pool of interviews, it appears buzzwords aren’t dead, but abusing them is. Sprinkling in a few to help articulate your idea or enhance a promotion isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as the buzzwords themselves have had quite a publicity run and you could catch few extra page views. But be careful. Using BW’s just for the flare of it could help drive a little more earned media, but your synergy might #fail.

Are buzzwords dead? Or do they need to be used with caution?  I want your opinion! Answer these questions below, or tweet me @i_alexandrarose!

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