10 overused digital marketing buzzwords that need to die in 2014

Let’s face it: No one wants to be that person – the one who uses a tired cliché that’s been overused in advertising, marketing, branding or
public relations to the point of diminishing return. Yet, as 2013 comes to a
close, it seems the only way to get our culture to evolve is to single out
these buzzwords by name and kill them before they kill all creative thinking in
the boardroom, management meetings and brand communications.

1. “Hashtag”-
Hash tagging has become one of the most rapidly overused social media terms heard on daily basis. One recent example is network television,
desperately trying to compensate for lost market share by capitalizing on
Twitter and Facebook followings. Networks leverage hashtagging via social
media sites in an attempt to build their shows’ brands and increase engagement
with teenagers and young adults by promoting series, characters and episodes.  Oddly enough, most people didn’t know that the same hashtag symbol existed on their push button phones since the 1980’s!

2. “It’s The
New Normal”
– Yes, the economy has sucked over the past two years stunting
growth and forcing people to reconsider spending. But it’s time to stop falling
into ‘Learned Helplessness” behavior, (a psychological term that explains why
people can’t get out of their depression.) The only thing constant in business
is change, be it in technology or the economy. Nothing is the ‘new normal’.
Your ‘new normal’ should be ‘abnormal’ if you want your branding to succeed
despite the odds. Accepting the mediocre isn’t an option.

3. “Your
company must be active in social media”—
While social media certainly plays
a strategic role in building and disseminating messaging for many brands, not
every company culture is conducive or appropriately positioned to effectively
utilize Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The social media peddlers who are
pushing “must be active” must cease and decease.

4. “Engagement
—The concept of total client engagement is very much alive and
important. That being said, when everyone refers to their direct marketing and
advertising efforts as part of their “engagement process,” it becomes something
I want to divorce and declare 40 years of marketing celibacy. I would argue
marketing will always be about “consummating the marriage” and not “being

5. “Print is
– Print publications have continuously declined to the point of
oblivion but just the way HP didn’t usher in the era of the “paperless office”
in the 90’s, newspapers are simply going digital and successfully building new
paywalls. Next year you will see Amazon, who recently purchased the Washington
Post, making a case for a future where books and newspapers will combine print
and digital to produce a sustainable readership ecosphere.

6. “How do
we measure it? It Depends”.
This year, I observed that more digital
advertising platforms are moving away from Google’s traditional KPIs in an
effort to convince clients that their metrics are more meaningful. So, instead
of measuring Cost per Click (CPC) and Click-Through, they say, you should
measure “Cost per Acquisition” and “Quality Scores”. But at the end of the day,
they say, ‘it all depends what you want to measure’. I predict that in 2014,
digital measurements will be recalibrated, since “it depends” isn’t an
acceptable answer to accountable marketers.  

7. “Thought
Descartes’ philosophical declaration of “I think, therefore I
am,” has certainly been adopted in recent years in the marketing world. In the
business of public relations and branding, we have created a monster. Everyone
thinks they are a thought leader. The term is so overused to a point that
diminishes the original intent, which is to generate new ideas, provoke
discussions, and promote intellectual discourse. No, sir, publishing a white
paper on an over-chewed topic doesn’t make you a thought leader. In fact, it is
quite thoughtless to assume it.

8. “Using Big Data”- 2013 shall be
remembered as the year where every technology marketer decided to overuse the
term “Big Data” to describe the conglomeration of information in multiple
formats across an enterprise. In reality, Big Data isn’t new. It’s been bottled
up in the enterprise data center since the days of Disco Inferno. Nevertheless,
I sincerely hope marketers will overcome their fear of getting specific and
provide real business terms to educate consumers without resorting to “Big Data.”

9. “Let’s use a Word Cloud”- The intention
was good but the execution has been horrible. The practice of using words in a
visually compelling way to illustrate amplitude and effectiveness has
overwhelmed us in the marketing world.  In
reality, the practice of going to Wordle.com and generating a meaningless
graphic that simply confuses your audience should cause marketers pause and promptly
discard it from their lexicon in 2014. At the very least, limit its usage.

10. “It’s all
about the User Interface”
—2013 was the year were every presentation started
and ended with the saying “…and remember it’s all about the user experience.” While
there is no denying that marketing is about satisfying requirements in order to
evoke a reaction or, more preferably, a transaction, User Interface doesn’t
mean ignoring business fundamentals such as “back office operations” that fulfill the user experience. With more business
analytics at hand, marketers should grasp why UI is a construct and not the end
goal of business.

So how many cliché’s have I used in this article? More than
I can count. Hence the most important lesson. As branding, marketing and PR professionals,
we must be aware that one person’s cliché’s is another person’s innovative gift
to the world. Never forget to contextualize your choices before killing a good
cliché’. As I often quote an old friend of mine: “There is no dead horse that
is too dead to beat; as it’s already dead.”


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