Words and Phrases to Ban

headshot of a woman with red tape over her mouth to symbolize words that should be banned from your business vocabulary

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Changing your social media vocabulary

Guest Contributor: Jeff Dunk

Shifting your paradigm to leverage engagement and generate more synergy?

Many of us turn to catchphrases or jargon in our workplaces as a kind of professional verbal shorthand. Say “increase engagement” in a business meeting, and the meaning is clear: we need to get those numbers up on our social platforms.

Just don’t let that same language creep into your posts, say Dara Fontein and Emily Copp in their Hootsuite blog, “Words and Phrases to Ban from Your Social Media Vocabulary.” The key, as always, is to #MakeSocialSimple—and in this case, that means banning “cringe-worthy” words from your brand’s social feeds.

According to the authors, there are four types of language best left out of your brand’s social media posts:

1. Check your 'hip' lingo

“Brands don’t decide what’s cool—audiences do.” Don’t take a chance on alienating your audience by trying too hard to appear hip. If you’re tempted to throw in words like “chill” to describe someone’s coolness, you run the risk of “making your audience cringe in embarrassment for you.” Worse still, some social media acronyms (such as “AF”) can offend or send out a negative impression of your brand.

Other “hip” lingo to avoid includes “I can’t even” (i.e., overcome with emotion), totes (unless you’re marketing a certain kind of handbag; otherwise skip this short form of “totally”) and Gucci (meaning cool, not the luxury brand). As the article points out, why not just say “good” instead?’

Lips on wall

2. Avoid Meaningless Jargon

Social platforms are competitive places for attracting eyeballs. Why waste time with messaging that isn’t clear? According to a study of U.S. B2B decision makers cited by Phyllis Fine in mediapost.com, the majority of respondents said marketing clichés such as “disruptive,” “bleeding-edge” and “world class” are the worst offenders when it comes to harming a company’s credibility.

Use of marketing jargon, buzzwords or otherwise “ambiguous terms” is much too common for the blog’s authors. Why alienate your audience, especially those who don’t immediately get the meaning of what you’re trying to say? Interestingly, one of the expressions they recommend avoiding is “viral,” that happy phenomenon when a video, meme or other content is (sometimes unexpectedly) shared widely across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. Social marketers will occasionally use the term to describe the aim of a particular bit of content. Instead of saying “go viral,” however, establish measurable goals. It’s a “better and easier” way to gauge your social media impact.

3. Don't Fish for Clickbait

Ubiquitous on social media, “clickbait” refers to those sensational headlines that never seem to deliver on their promise once you’re directed to the actual content. There is a common perception that exaggeration is acceptable on the Internet, since only the most outlandish and misleading statements seem to gain any traction. But your brand’s reputation may be at stake if you indulge in such hyperbole. Want to keep your company’s “authority and clout” intact? Then ensure the claims you’re making are valid. For instance, if claiming something is the “best” or “top,” be certain you can back up those assertions. Don’t let your audience begin to doubt your credibility.

For the same reasons, avoid “musts” and “needs” in your headlines. Is your claim that something is a “must read,” or a “need to see this” truthful? Audiences catch on quickly when you “cry wolf” one too many times. In short, say the authors, don’t “give your audience a chance to challenge your claims.

4. Job Titles that Make You Cringe

Content Maven. Social Media Guru. Growth Hacker.

Much like clickbait, these terms, used to describe tech job descriptions, show up too frequently in social marketing vocabulary. Yes, it may seem like innocent fun to let your audience know you have a “social media ninja” on staff, or that a “marketing rock star” will be handling their account. But “wacky titles” like these can be counterproductive with clients if they don’t instill confidence about your skills and abilities.

Such nicknames can be found throughout the tech industry. In a study conducted by Digital Media Stream, there exists a huge “comprehension gap” about what these job titles actually mean to the general public—if they mean anything to them at all. Perhaps this has something to do with 72% of respondents working in tech admitting that “they don’t use their real job title when talking to people outside the industry.”

Language can be a powerful tool when it comes to establishing your brand as a category leader. At the same time, using tools correctly requires artistry and discipline. As the blog’s authors suggest, the key is to give “careful consideration” to the words and phrasing you employ in your social media and content strategies.

Want to share your words with us? Send us a message, we’re always down to chat about social media

Clavis Social Inc. is an award winning, startup digital marketing firm. Priding itself on simple, upfront, and honest digital marketing services, the Clavis team is dedicated to helping businesses grow. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto and servicing clients across the globe, Clavis has one clear objective: make social simple.

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