All digital marketers should keep the following four social media terms in their vocabulary.

Social media, like every other marketing initiative (and some would even argue more so), is full of buzzwords. I'll admit I use them every day, but when I hear others stringing them together in pretentious and increasingly nonsensical sentences, I become embarrassed, not only for the speaker, but for myself as well.

But regardless of how annoying these terms are, the reality is that some are necessary for our industry. Buzzwords can succinctly and accurately explain a concept, process or outcome, which otherwise might require several sentences or minutes to describe. That's why they came into usage in the first place, and why they became so prevalent. While I don't advocate using buzzwords in lieu of actual substance, I do feel that social media professionals and all digital marketers should keep the following four terms in their vocabulary:


This term can be used in nearly any marketing capacity, but it really hit buzzword status with social media. That's because the core of social media is engagement. Engaging with prospective and existing customers, engaging with authorities in the industry, engaging with partners. Sure, we could use "make connections," "create conversions" or "build relationships" (and I know we all do), but using those terms would simply be replacing one buzzword with others, terms that don't define the concept with quite the same brevity or accuracy.


"Personalization" has been gaining ground across all digital channels, not just social, as technology makes it easier and easier to truly personalize content and experiences for each individual customer.

Social media professionals tend to overuse the word to a greater extent because they have access to so much personal data about their audiences. Not only can we find out customer demographics, (Read more...) we can learn their interests by the things they interact with and by reading actual conversations.

Here are two simple arguments as to why you should keep using "personalization" though: customers want it and it works. According to research by Janrain, 74% of customers say they are frustrated with websites that don't provide content that fits their interests. Those that do personalize see a 19 percent lift in sales. So personalize with abandon and use the term in an equally free fashion.


You've heard it a million times before: You need to create relevant content to engage with relevant audiences on the most relevant channels. Okay, I hope no one has ever repeated the term that many times in a single sentence, but I wouldn't stake my first born on it. However, relevancy is important, almost as important as personalization.

Method can talk all day about cleaning tarnish off of silver or the best ways get wine out of cotton fabric, but they have no business discussing fashion or politics. These topics would at best confuse their audience and, at worst, offend them. Remaining true to your brand by discussing topics that are consistent and applicable will help to keep your audience's attention and build your credibility as a trusted source of information.


The concept of an "influencer" is not new. Numerous other buzzwords have been used through the years to describe this type of person - key stakeholder, celebrity, endorser, authority, SME (subject matter expert), tastemaker. But in the social media realm, no term so deftly describes their power of inspiration and motivation as "influencer."

The reason is that influence in social media isn't just about getting people to make a purchase. It's about affecting others to share a piece of content, discuss your new product, download an ebook or sign up for a newsletter by the simple act of retweeting or sharing a Facebook post. Their influence spans actions big and small, short- and long-term. That same concept cannot be expressed with "tastemaker" alone.

We all have terms that personally irritate or frustrate us, but some find their way into our professional vernacular for good reason. These four terms are the most concise and definitive ways to describe the major approaches and concepts of social media. So don't be shy when using them in pitches, strategy meetings and everyday work conversation. Just be sure the buzzwords are relevant to the conversion and personalized to the audience you hope to engage and influence.

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