Social Media Marketing’s 8 Most Annoying, Overused Buzzwords


Buzzwords. Generally speaking, they’re purely the stuff of public relations. Seriously, PR pros use them as if they were a comfort blanket of sorts. 

Currently, seeing as how PR has evolved into a beast comprising a multitude of other communicative fields—blogging, copywriting, SEO and social media marketing—the list of annoying, overused terms has painfully become even more expansive.

With respect to the latter of the aforementioned bunch, things are worse than they’ve ever been before. No joke. Check out the following list to see what I’m talking about:

1) ‘Engagement’

No, this doesn’t have anything to do with beautiful white dresses, diamond rings or glass slippers. This term references the thing that social media specialists supposedly spend all day doing: reaching out and interacting with brand fans. 

Granted, more often than not, these sorts of interactions are scheduled and robotic in nature, but in theory, hardcore engagement is what’s technically taking place.

2) ‘Industry Influencer’

Every social media marketer wants to have this title, but few are those who actually earn it. Well, if you count those who’ve included this on their LinkedIn profile pages, then most of them already do. 

Needless to say, it doesn’t mean much when the most social media experience you have is helping your grandmother access photos of her grandchildren while on Facebook.

3) ‘Thought Leader’

This one pairs nicely with the buzzword that precedes it. To be an “Industry Influencer” is one thing, but to be a “Thought Leader” is to enter a whole new realm of awesomeness.

To qualify for social media’s equivalent of a black belt, you’ve got to have a minimum of 100,000 followers on Twitter, regardless of whether they’ve been purchased or not. Any less, and you’re just another punk with a Twitter feed and a bunch of unread, automated DMs in his inbox.

4) ‘Social Listening’

As previously mentioned, social media is about engagement. Shockingly, if you’re to engage in conversation with someone, you’ve got to actually listen to them. 

In fact, studies have shown that social media marketers who’ve been involved in long, successful relationships actually perform better in the workplace.

Okay, so no study’s really shown that. But if one had, it sure would’ve been convenient in proving my point.

5) ‘Big Data’

People get into social media marketing because they hate numbers. Ironically, the joke’s on them, because there are plenty of analytics to go around. 

As far as numbers are concerned, though, nobody actually knows what big data even is. It sounds smart, so it’s tossed around like a frisbee. 

If confused, you’re neither an “Industry Influencer” or a “Thought Leader.” Heck, go talk to a web scraper. They should be able to help you make sense of all this stuff.

6) ‘ROI’

Social media marketers talk about this all the time because, when proven, it’s the very thing that keeps them gainfully employed. 

However, when absent, it’s back to the call center and sleeping on the couch in the living room.

7) ‘Growth Hacker’

There’s so much confusion surrounding this title, it’s scary. 

Thankfully, the good folks at QuickSprout defined the term, saying, “A growth hacker is not a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is not better than marketer. A growth hacker is just different than a marketer. To use the most succinct definition…, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

Exactly. Simple enough, right? Wrong. That’s why this phrase is used so frequently. In theory, if it sounds fancy enough and is said over and over again, a sensical definition will eventually catch on.

8) ‘Content’

This is by far the worst of them all. What’s crazy is that this term embodies just about everything in social media. 

What’s pushed? Content. What’s shared? Content. What’s to be improved? Content. What’s king? Content. I swear, though true, if I hear that “content is king” one more time, I might just go right ahead gouge my own eyes out.

Obviously, this post was—more than just about anything else—a way to have some fun with the most commonly-heard terms in the world of social media marketing. 

Now it’s time for you to give me the best you’ve got. What’s been left off of this list or what could’ve been explained better? Jump down to the comments section below to share your thoughts.


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.