Have you ever been scrolling through your social media feed and stopped to cringe at a post from a brand or business? Chances are, there was a word or phrase that made you take a moment to question the organization’s choice of vocabulary.
Language is a powerful thing which obviously has huge impact on the sentiment your content expresses. Nobody—not even a social media marketer—is perfect, so it’s understandable that a company’s social media feed may have the occasional language choice misstep. To help you steer clear of wince-worthy words, we’ve collected some commonly seen and heard terms and phrases that can safely be banned from your social vocabulary. If we’ve missed any that drive you crazy, let us know below!
You know that feeling when your dad asks about the “hippity hop” you’re listening to? That’s the same feeling caused by brands who are obviously trying way too hard and who simply have no chill. While there are of course exceptions to this, using overly trendy lingo is a risky move for most professional organizations. As our own Ashley Jane Brookes’ explains in more depth here, “Audiences decide what’s cool, not brands. When brands try to co-opt what’s cool and exciting (especially to millennials) and miss the mark, they risk distancing themselves from their audiences.”
Some examples of words and phrases that you might want to swipe left on if hoping to avoid making your audience cringe in embarrassment for you:
Bae: Time Magazine defines bae as “a term of endearment, often referring to your boyfriend or girlfriend, or a prospect who might one day hold such a lofty position.” Basically, ‘bae’ is used to refer to anything with endearment. If a definition is something you need before using a word in your social media content, it might be a good idea to reconsider using it. The use of ‘bae’ by brands has become so ubiquitous that there’s a Twitter account specifically dedicated to ironically bringing attention to corporations who have used the term in their social media content.
Fleek: Even though this phrase, usually preceded by the word “on,” was recently added to Dictionary.com there are better ways to say something is“perfect or flawless.”
Lit/Turnt: Both meaning essentially the same thing–to be intoxicated and hyped up on an event or situation—it’s probably a good idea to leave out of your professional social media lexicon.
I can’t even: Yes you can. Used when the speaker wants to express that they have become so overcome with emotion that they can’t form words, the phrase “I can’t even” was a piece of adolescent slang that got picked up so quickly by brands that it became rapidly uncool. While a company like Taco Bell has a brand voice that allowed for the application of “I can’t even” at its peak, they have worked hard at establishing and maintaining this very specific tone.
A key principle of good communication is to make sure your message is clear and easy to understand. Unfortunately, the use of marketing jargon, buzzwords, or ambiguous terms by businesses on social media is a common practice. This does a great disservice to the brand’s messaging efforts as it alienates audience members who don’t immediately understand what the content means. As Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business explained when speaking to Forbes, “Jargon masks real meaning. People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.” With the overuse of such vocabulary, your words and therefore your content ceases to convey any actual information. It’s also pretty safe to say that content full of this type of word choice is just plain boring—not something you want when your goal is to engage your audience.
Some popular examples of overused jargon to avoid either in your social media content, or when discussing your strategy, include:
Viral: While this refers to the very real phenomenon where online content organically receives an extremely large amount of engagement across social media networks, social media managers and marketers have begun using the term “viral” to describe their content goals. Instead of saying that your goal is for your post to go “viral,” it’s better (and easier!) to establish measurable goals. For help with this, we’ve outlined a guide to measuring your social media campaigns
Synergy: Simply referring to the interaction between two things that creates a better result, “synergy” is a term that can often leave your audience scratching their head. It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around so often that it’s meaning has been obscured, and can definitely be replaced with simpler wording. With the word “synergy” such a source of pain for many audience members, Mashable crowned it “the buzzword you can never escape.”
Optimize: This just means to make something as efficient as it can be through constant reworking, but the word ‘optimize’ has now become a catch-all for simply creating good content. You’ll often hear that “the post has been optimized,” when usually the perpetrator just means that the post was edited or reposted at a more highly trafficked time of day. This is another case where it’s better to just say what you mean, rather than throwing in a word that makes you feel smarter.
Millennial: Used so commonly by marketers to “describe people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s,” the term “millennial” has become meaningless. While it may be helpful when your brand is trying to connect with a more mature audience who are trying to understand a younger generation, no millennial will self-identify as such. Just like the term “hipster” has become so cringe worthy—especially among those who particularly fit the description of the term—“millennial” is a word that those in the specified age bracket will run from. Being stereotyped in general is off-putting, and as described in our post all about the term, “there are countless competing views within that age bracket as to what is popular and what isn’t.” When marketers use the word “millennial” as an all-encompassing descriptor, they are missing the mark when it comes to authentically targeting their social media content.
Link: Words and Phrases to Ban from Your Social Media Vocabulary via blog.hootsuite.com
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