The greatest accomplishment of my professional life is owning the top three results on Google for “content marketing buzzwords.”
We did it, guys. You, me—all of us, really, for saying horrible, nonsensical things every day. We are mad men and women, speaking in an indecipherable tongue, cruelly confusing our nana at Rosh Hashanah, who heard CPC as PCP and got excited. Let’s get to it.
1. Thought Leadership
Listing yourself as a “thought leader” on Twitter or LinkedIn is like listing yourself as an “artist” on OkCupid or Tinder; there’s a 99 percent chance you’re lying to yourself, and a 1 percent chance you’re Kanye.
We’ve now reached the point where everyone claims to do “thought leadership,” but very few are actually doing it. These pseudo forms of thought leadership range from writing something safe that tons of other people have said…
… to making arbitrary rules that other people in your industry should follow…
… to putting out tone-deaf PR responses…
… and lazily criticizing others to kill an afternoon while relying on GIFs as a crutch!
2. People-Based Marketing
“People-based marketing” just might be the perfect buzzword. For starters, this euphemism for ad retargeting has a beautifully dystopian ring. It’s like George Orwell was reincarnated inside the marketing department of Facebook, which introduced the term when it launched its mobile ad-stalking platform last year.
But what makes it a true winner is the balance between friendliness (“It’s people-based! It’s advertising that cares about you!”) and existential threat (“We put you through a meat grinder and use you to power our quest for world domination”). Congratulations, guys: We’re finally living in a mashup of 1984 and Minority Report, just like our 16-year-old selves always wanted.
Do you remember when your parents or teachers tried to convince you something was a game when it clearly wasn’t? Let’s see how many things you can pick up in your room in the next five minutes! Let’s see who can stay quiet the longest! That’s what brands are doing right now.
What started as an effort by brands to actually deliver fun experiences has mostly turned into a half-hearted trick to engage consumers. Tell us your brand story and we’ll give you points on this arbitrary microsite and enter you to win a trip to some shithole beach town in Florida! Do you guys remember when Zappos just started giving out badges for no reason? I’m pretty sure it was just based on how much they people-based marketed you.
A modern buzzword with its very own book! You’ve gotta love a buzzword that sounds both like a violent crime and a popular tag on PornHub. I don’t know why you’d choose this term to describe your content strategy, but whatever floats your boat. And it’s a pretty fitting term, actually, because when brands “newsjack,” it tends to get weird and ugly.
Throughout 2015, Google has been pushing the idea of “micro-moments,” and it’s spreading through the marketing industry like polio. Micro-moments are times when buyers are influenced by some piece of content from a brand during a purchasing decision. So now, marketers can say things like, “We really need to leverage people-based marketing to get our snackable content in front of people at key micro-moments!” while I fill up with homicidal rage.
There’s no such thing as a micro-moment, my dear Google-Alphabet-Optimus-Prime overlord. There are just moments. Sweet, simple moments for you to wring revenue out of our monetizable existence.
6. Content Creator
I’ve been going through a lot of résumés lately for an open editorial role, and the fact that so many people who work in digital media identify as “content creators” scares the shit out of me. Over 21,000 people list it as their job on LinkedIn. It’s as if we’ve stopped thinking about ourselves as writers, videographers, or designers, and started internalizing a more cynical existence, where we are just fleshy machines built to pump content into the great void.
I mean, that’s probably true, but when the hell did LinkedIn become a place for honesty?
DEEP DOWN, WE ARE ALL MATT DAMON.
8. Marketing Stack
One of my goals over the past year has been to go a full month without feeling like an idiot while talking to Ray Cheng, our VP of marketing. Early on, we had at least a half-dozen conversations about marketing stacks where I just nodded while thinking about pancakes. (Mmmmm. Pancakes.) Eventually I decided to devote an afternoon to reading ChiefMartec.com and realized a marketing stack is just a bunch of marketing systems working together.
Since then, I’ve gotten surprisingly into “martech,” as the cool kids call it. But the term “marketing stack” seems strange. When I think working together, I don’t think stack. Huddle, cabal, system, orgy—all of those, sure. But stack just conjures memories of diner food, or junk yards, or nearly suffocating after your overweight cousins piled on top of you at your aunt’s house that one Christmas.
I see you creeping up, contentification. Sneaking your way into awful fill-in-the-blank sentences to describe the growing impact of content. The contentification of ______ (social media/business/PR/our souls).
I see you fighting to come to life everywhere in New York, from Madison Avenue to Soho (but mostly on Twitter). And let me just say this: Not in my industry. Not in my town. Not as long as I have an Internet connection and the power to make fun of anyone who uses it. You are not becoming a full-fledged buzzword.
Nowadays, every agency takes a “holistic” approach to marketing. It’s like the marketing industry is Williamsburg, brands are hipsters, and everyone else is putting on a hippie persona because the rent just got jacked 200 percent. Who’s ready to rid their company of toxins? Jim from Lead Gen—he’s gotta go. And those silos—well, we should be able to take care of those with a little acupuncture and a $250,000 team retreat.
Or you know what? Screw it. Let’s all just go live with bears.
Got a buzzword I missed? Tweet me @joelazauskas because you better believe I’m going to keep doing these until we get to 100 or someone here forces me to stop.
Previously in Content Marketing Buzzwords: