At first, it's just one here or there. But soon, whole flocks are worming their way across your messaging and campaigns.
"Data visualization doesn't sound so bad," you might find yourself saying. "What's the problem?" And then someone throws "enterprise data visualization to optimize the ripple effect and hyperconnectivity of your key influencers" into an article.
And that's the danger of letting industry buzzwords run rampant.
Here are 10 words or phrases that have been used once too often. They can be direly unhelpful, unrealistic, irritating, confusing, and vague. Could we all please cut back on using them?
Whoa -- slow down! Did you say "mobile"? Mobile's a great buzzword; everybody and their dog are on mobile these days! Mobile means we can reach the consumer whether they're at home on their couch or on the sidewalk looking for a restaurant. Mobile is where we have to shrink our ads and forfeit our click-through metrics. Mobile puts the "Mo" in SoLoMo.
The problem with "mobile" is that it's restrictive. You automatically think of a smartphone, a tablet, or a mini-tablet. Trying to sum up and address all of those in one word might cause you to cut your efforts short. A more flexible and accurate alternative for addressing "mobile" efforts is "multi-screen." There's definitely a time and place to use "mobile." It's just not as frequently as we see it now.
We've optimized everything from advertising campaigns to waffles. According to Merriam-Webster, "optimize" means "to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible." Wait a second -- so all of that other work you've been doing hasn't been to make things as functional as possible? Non-optimized campaigns haven't been pulling their weight? Non-optimized waffles have been made with a less-perfect syrup-to-butter ratio?
Face it, guys: "Optimize" is getting burnt out. Give it a break, or someone might decide that everything you haven't called "optimized" isn't as effective as possible.
I admit, this article might be a real game changer in its own right, but please stop using this term for every little update, release, startup, feature, and cat meme that comes across your desk. (Though I must admit, Grumpy Cat was a game changer.) If we don't reserve this buzzword for actual game-changing innovations, Grumpy Cat is just one in a sea of equally amusing cat memes.
I get it. We need a term to distinguish all of those things we do online in the digital ecosystem from -- the non-digital ecosystem? The outernet, maybe? But the term "digital ecosystem" actually has a more substantial meaning than what it's so often used for. For example, it's helpful terminology when defining specific online communities or processes, such as the "Twitter ecosystem."
So go ahead. Say "digital ecosystem" when you mean it. But make sure there's a meaning attached to your usage, and stop tossing it about when all you really want to say is "online."
[Insert noun] marketing
Tablet marketing, mobile marketing, Facebook marketing, app marketing. Where do we draw the line here? Mini-tablet marketing? The reality is that while it's sometimes helpful to note distinct efforts or platforms (see: mobile), we don't need a special marketing term for each screen or platform we're operating on. It's a slippery slope that ends with you having to write a mile-long list just to say "marketing."
Unless you think society is going to en masse abandon its devices and online connections, hyperconnectivity is a somewhat worthless concept for digital marketers. It describes current and future audiences that every business needs to learn to target and communicate with. Primarily because of this sheer inevitability, we need to just get over this term and move forward. It's not hyperconnectivity that we can address. But we can address changing online behaviors and decision-making patterns. Being connected is not the future; it's the present.
This is one of those buzzwords that just needs to be re-appropriated. While it means a visual display that communicates information clearly and effectively, it's come to be more synonymous with "infographic." And yes, infographics and data visualization go hand-in-hand, but they're not synonymous.
Yes, Apple does some cool stuff. But as recent patent battles have demonstrated, it doesn't have claim to everything hip and innovative. Do we really need an entire adjective to blame other companies for mimicking Apple? This really speaks to the industry's penchant for setting Apple apart from the standards it applies to everyone else, and for believing no-questions-asked that Apple did everything first. (It didn't.)
Apple has sometimes very successfully combined features into something innovative and progressively useful. I know, right? But the problem with buzzwords like this is that they're part of an innovation-stifling culture. Apple wouldn't be the Apple we love today without some borrowing and tinkering along the way, and we shouldn't punish other companies trying to improve existing products or processes by labeling them "Apple-like," and therefore copycats, not innovators.
Social media guru
Also known as the master-ninja-keeper-of-the-social-media-secrets. The whale tamer of Twitter, the pin master, the filtered photo virtuoso.
No, you don't want to label yourself "social media butterfingers" on your LinkedIn profile, but these unconventional titles have been repeated far too often to retain much originality. And many of them have little to no meaning, which in any other industry would be unacceptable. ("What did you say your job title is? I'm sorry, we're not hiring for a plastic surgeon grand master.")
A little shameless self-mockery and true originality are always welcome. Just don't use your job title or Twitter handle as an opportunity to be as unique as everyone else.
This term was such a low-hanging fruit that I couldn't leave it off the list. It's annoying, overused, and sells some of your best efforts short. It's an acceptable way of saying that something is so obvious and easy that it requires almost no thought or effort. Is that really what you want to be saying? That you're going after the easiest -- not the ideal -- target?
Which buzzwords would you deem worthless?
To be fair, all of the terms on this list mean something and can be useful -- if and when used appropriately. But they go from conveying industry-specific knowledge to being worthless buzzwords when they're overused or thrown around as easy alternatives to solid explanations.
Which buzzwords do you think are overused, vague, or utterly worthless?
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