No matter what industry you work in, some buzzwords are inevitable. It’s simply easier, in many scenarios, to turn to jargon in lieu of repeatedly explaining certain concepts and ideas. This is not a fundamentally negative thing, either.
Some buzzwords do indeed have both merit and situational value. Unfortunately, many others either leave us scratching our heads or rolling our eyes. Where marketing is concerned, you need to understand the difference.
It can be the difference between an engaged audience and an alienated one. But where do you draw the line, exactly? How can you tell when a buzzword will help your marketing, and when it will hinder it?
When Buzzwords Can Help
Buzzwords do more than just save time. Used correctly, they can engage your audience, helping them feel like keyed-in, knowledgeable insiders with which you’re sharing critical insights. The discussion of buzzwords can even be a topic of conversation in and of itself, as explained by SaaS startup Talkative’s Head of Marketing Ben M Roberts.
You might, as a thought leader, introduce a new idea or concept and coin a buzzword to describe it. You might offer your insight on the meaning or purpose behind a buzzword. Or, if you’re feeling particularly deft, you might even publish a piece or two explaining in layman’s terms the most common buzzwords in your industry.
The key, says Roberts, is to use jargon only where suitable. Don’t be like countless business journalists who pepper their pieces with fancy-sounding business nonsense. Instead, when you use a buzzword, make sure you relate it back to your content and brand identity.
This is the key to sounding knowledgeable and tactful rather than ignorant and pretentious.
When Buzzwords Harm
Idioms are commonplace in linguistics, typically beginning with a trusted expert, as we’ve already noted. In its earliest stages, an idiom is often relegated to a high-level conversation on a topic. As it begins making its way into the common parlance, however, there’s the risk of it becoming so overused that even hearing it may grate on one’s nerves.
These might be redundant phrases such as root cause. They could be meaningless jargon like synergy. They might take the form of unnecessary statements like think outside the box.
The buzzwords that tend to be the most irritating have a few things in common.
- They’re often used incorrectly.
- They’re overused to the point of redundancy.
- They communicate a simple idea in complex terms.
Whenever you’re tempted to use any sort of jargon, first ask yourself.
- Why do I want to use this buzzword?
- Will my audience understand this term?
- Is there a simpler way to convey this idea?
- Do I understand what this buzzword means?
- Does it add anything of value to my content?
Buzzwords, idioms, and jargon absolutely have their use, from describing certain tasks to putting a public-friendly polish on marketing copy. Ultimately, it’s all about the context in which they’re used. If you’re using them solely for the sake of using them, then you’re doing it wrong.
About the Author
Terry Cane is the COO at SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner. You can follow/tweet her @SEOhostnet.