4 Awful Content Marketing Buzzwords That Will Terrorize You in 2019

Three years ago, my most prized possessions were a life-size cardboard cutout of myself, a George Foreman grill that lasted longer than my last three relationships combined, and the top four search results on Google for “content marketing buzzwords.”

Since then, the George Foreman almost set the cutout on fire, and while I still own the top SERP ranking, I’ve lost positions two through four. So let’s bring it back. Remember when I thought “sticky content” was the worst thing ever? Just wait until you hear about zillennials.

1. Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the low-rise jeans of business buzzwords—a dead ’90s fad that’s now coming back with a vengeance. Everyone dreads it but also spends way too much money on it. And it always seems to come with some weirdly misogynistic undertones.

This year, I’ve heard countless company execs plug their “digital transformation initiative,” which basically translates to: Holy crap, everything inside our company is super messed up and half our departments barely know how to properly use the internet even though it’s 2019. Also, our legal department is convinced that if we post an Instagram story, the building will explode.

In turn, big consulting firms are using “digital transformation” as the center square in their 2019 buzzword bingo boards, setting off a dangerous feedback loop. The more marketers hear consultants say digital transformation, the more they’ll repeat it, which will inspire every consulting firm to simultaneously release white papers with a banal title like “The Digital Transformation Imperative.” The world, in small yet undeniable ways, will become a worse place.

2. Nano Influencer

According to The Guardian, nano influencers are “digital citizens” (gag) with 1,000-5,000 followers. Or as you might know them: PEOPLE WITH INTERNET ACCESS.

According to Forbes—a list factory staffed by the worst people from your LinkedIn feed—nano influencers are “telling their small community about the products they love” and “trusted by their friends while creating valuable content for brands.”

Oh yes, that classic “small community” of people from high school you haven’t talked to for 15 years. You can’t wait to tell those people about the products you love. Because you can’t just give up that sweet, sweet hit you get when you create valuable content for brands.

Like an infectious contagion “nano influencer’ is spreading through agency’s BS factories so fast that there’s no hope for inoculation.

3. Zillennial

This year, most of your interns were probably born in 1997 or 1998. 1998! These kids will be insufferably young. Their birth year alone will make you feel like you’re going to die any moment. And because they were born right on the cusp of millennials and Gen Z, they will introduce you to a new buzzword: zillennials.

Basically, these kids don’t want to be lumped in with us old-AF millennials because we’re now in our 30s and just want Stranger Things to come back so we don’t have to leave our apartments all weekend. In an act of true rebellion, they made up a marketing buzzword to define themselves. (Read this amazingly insufferable post for a peek inside their minds, which seem to have fundamentally misunderstood both the last 10 years of economic history and the great avocado debate of 2018.)

Of course, agencies and consultants are going to eat this nonsense up, and by late February, you’ll be tasked with putting together a last-second “zillennial activation” at SXSW. It’ll crush your soul, but on the bright side, it’s SXSW. There’s tons of free booze.

4. Customer-Centric/Audience-Centric

These two buzzwords have reached critical mass, and I’m part of the problem here. If you gave me an electric shock every time I used some variation of them, I’d have superpowers, fighting crime by shooting lightning bolts out of my hands but tragically never knowing the touch of true love.

Unfortunately, no one ever electrocutes me. So I go around saying “audience-centric” as a crutch. It’s a simple way to avoid screaming “YOU HAVE TO MAKE STUFF YOUR AUDIENCE ACTUALLY FINDS INTERESTING” at clients and getting fired. But that’s a cop out. There’s no excuse for sounding like I was incubated in a test tube at Deloitte.

Many marketers are fixated on brand messaging and wearing down prospects like a deranged stalker. The numbers tell them that these tactics kind of work, so they convince themselves they’re “customer-centric”—totally forgetting that customers are real people who could not care less about your rebrand or newly minted brand values. It’s ruining marketing.

This year, let’s cut the buzzwords and scream the truth. Sure, we might get fired. But after the digital transformation comes, nano-influencer zillennials are going to take our jobs anyway.

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