2008 Top 10 Buzzwords

So the New York Times has a list of the top political buzzwords in 2008.  They did a nice job of picking through a see of words and terms to create a short list of the best.  Trying to pick the top 10 marketing buzzwords of 2008, wasn’t easy either.  I’m sure I’ve left some great ones off the list.

  1. Transparency: I loathe this term.  Just can’t stand it.  It’s over-used and often used incorrectly.  I’ve already talked at length why I have problems with the term, so I’ll try to make it quick here.  People don’t want transparency.  They don’t want to see how the hotdog is made.  I promise you, no one wants to see meet crammed into a casing.  However, they do want to know that the nutrition label is accurate and a fair representation of what’s in the hot dog.
  2. Conversation/Dialogue: How many times did you hear, “we need to start a conversation.”  Or, “it’s about having a conversation.”  Yawn.  It takes two people, at a minimum, to have a conversation.  If you’re having a conversation with yourself, I have someone you should meet with :)  There’s 24 hours in a day and with all due respect we/me/you/they don’t want to have a conversation with your/their company.  Do you really want to talk with person X at Sprint?  Guess what?  Sprint doesn’t want to have a dialogue with you either.  There isn’t enough time in a day to have a real conversation or to carry on a dialogue for several days.  We don’t want story telling, we just means for communication.
  3. Micro-Blogging: Sigh.  Whoever started this needs to be shot.  People, for whatever reason, feel the need to put things into defined boxes that they can make sense of something.  That’s exactly what happened with micro-blogging.  Someone realized they didn’t understand things like Twitter and decided to give it the phrase micro-blogging.  Do you realize how silly we sound?  While we’re at it, let’s create the term mobi-sode for video content viewed on a mobile device.  Yes, that sounded dumb :)
  4. Streaming: “Hey, I’m live streaming right now.”  Hey, that’s great.  I remember in 1999 when the term streaming was big.  Broadband penetration was increasing and content was actually being streamed.  This whole concept of people life-streaming, live-streaming, etc. is silly.  Please stop saying it Michael Arrington and Jason Calacanis :)
  5. User Experience: It’s all about user experience.  Well duh.  We aren’t selling products to ourselves.  The fact that the concept of user experience has been created in a functional discipline, with people billing themselves as user experience experts is mind boggling.  You know who’s a user exeperience expert?  The user.
  6. Integrated: Oh boy, what a whopper.  We’re a full integrated agency.  We need to make sure the creative is integrated.  Sigh.  Creative shouldn’t be integrated.  Well, not in the way the term integration is used.  When the term integration is used in marketing/advertising it’s used to denote that all the work should look the SAME.  Hate to break it to you, but it shouldn’t.  Should a 60 second TV spot look the same as your website?  Gosh, I hope not, since they are two differen’t communication channels.
  7. User-Centric: Similar to user experience.  But, where as user experience has people and companies claiming to be experts of a discipline, user-centric is a philosophy.  For example, user-centric design.  Wait a second, you’re designing for the user?  Isn’t that what we’re paid to do?  If we start designing/creating for ourselves, well you’ll get Orville Deadenbacher and no one wants that.
  8. Web 2.0/3.0: Oh boy, this is a big one.  By my count we’re on version 8 or 9 of the web.  Using the term web 2.0 simply dumbs down the conversation.  Web 2.0 is used as a catch all phrase meant to dumb the conversation down and avoid discussions about technology like APIs, AJAX, embedding, etc.  Instead of creating terms like web 2.0 or web 3.0 (the person at Razorfish that used this should be shot) we should be educating people, especially decision makers, so that everyone is a little smarter.
  9. Media Agnostic: Really?  You don’t care, nor have an opinion on media?  And you have a job?  Wait, and you’re considered smart for being agnostic.  Damn, I want that job.  Media agnostic isn’t a point of differentiation…well not when every company is claiming they are media agnostic.
  10. Thought Leader: I cringe when I hear this term. Wikipedia says, “Thought leader is a buzzword or article of jargon used to describe a futurist or person who is recognized among their peers and mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights (thinklets).” Well, even they call it a buzzword. Some how a thought leader is supposed to denote how smart you are and give you instant credibility when you walk into the room. If that’s the case, let’s just change people’s titles to Sr. Thought Leader and Director of Thought Leadership. I’ve me a lot of the supposed thought leaders and I gotta tell you, not impressed. Becoming a thought leader, if we’re going to continue using the term, should be like getting knighted. Only royalty can denote that you are a thought leader. Seeing no other hands, I will take on that role :)

My one request for 2009 is not world peace.  It’s please stop using buzzwords and instead be more transparent about your thought leadership when you integrate your micro-blogging, life streaming, and other web 2.0 tools via a media agnostic user experience and user-centric approach to maintaining a dialogue.  Does that make sense?  Good, I didn’t think so…and that’s exactly what you sound like when you talk in buzzword speak.

  • http://blog.michaelleis.com mleis

    Great list. You know I’ve gone off at length over your #8. And thanks for reminding me about Transparency. That deserves the top spot. No one wants transparency. They want convenience and personal attention. They want perceived transparency.

  • http://blog.michaelleis.com Michael Leis

    Great list. You know I’ve gone off at length over your #8. And thanks for reminding me about Transparency. That deserves the top spot. No one wants transparency. They want convenience and personal attention. They want perceived transparency.

  • http://bigthinkslittlethinks.blogspot.com/ John Franklin

    Even translucency is better than transparency: you can see most of what’s going on but not every detail. Interesting that our common former employer used 5 of those 10 (or a very similar form thereof) as desired Personal Management Objectives. Perhaps that’s a clue as to why they’re losing money?

  • http://bigthinkslittlethinks.blogspot.com John Franklin

    Even translucency is better than transparency: you can see most of what’s going on but not every detail. Interesting that our common former employer used 5 of those 10 (or a very similar form thereof) as desired Personal Management Objectives. Perhaps that’s a clue as to why they’re losing money?

  • Jim Higgins

    Adam, I love that you have been so transparent with your micro-blogging. You really know how to get the conversation started with us users. One might say you’re very user-centric. One thing is for sure, you are a true thought leader when it comes to Web 3.5

  • Jim Higgins

    Adam, I love that you have been so transparent with your micro-blogging. You really know how to get the conversation started with us users. One might say you’re very user-centric. One thing is for sure, you are a true thought leader when it comes to Web 3.5

  • Bethany Iverson

    Thanks for the list – these are very funny (and very true). Do you ever catch yourself using any of these on accident? There are some words I try not to use, but every once in a while one will sneak into a conversation/presentation….tricky little bastards.

  • Bethany Iverson

    Thanks for the list – these are very funny (and very true). Do you ever catch yourself using any of these on accident? There are some words I try not to use, but every once in a while one will sneak into a conversation/presentation….tricky little bastards.

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com/ Jamie Favreau

    I thought you were going to shoot the person that used the term Social Media. I know you tipped on it with Web 2.0 but last night you were all about if someone uses the term social media one more time.

    Would you rather it be called Interactive Marketing I know @kenburbary was referring to it as that when I was doing an informational interview with him.

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com Jamie Favreau

    I thought you were going to shoot the person that used the term Social Media. I know you tipped on it with Web 2.0 but last night you were all about if someone uses the term social media one more time.

    Would you rather it be called Interactive Marketing I know @kenburbary was referring to it as that when I was doing an informational interview with him.

  • http://nicole-simon.eu nicolesimon

    Nice list. ;) I disagree with “Someone realized they didn’t understand things like Twitter and decided to give it the phrase micro-blogging. ” If it would be just twitter you would be absolutly spot on. But especially in situation like inside a company, you do not use twitter (you should be shot for _that_ if you do) but a tool like twitter.

    Microblogging implies the limitation of length and quite frankly for me also the limitation to text. That is something you do need a separate term for. Make the test: With the above in mind about why it is not just about twitter, if somebody tells you “we have started microblogging” do you have a precice idea what somebody is doing? I would bet yes. And as such there is a need for the term.

    Re conversation: Cluetrain Manifesto is having its 10 year aniversary in 2009 – and still most people dont get it. I am afraid you will hear about conversations for a bit longer. ;)

  • http://crueltobekind.org Nicole Simon

    Nice list. ;) I disagree with “Someone realized they didn’t understand things like Twitter and decided to give it the phrase micro-blogging. ” If it would be just twitter you would be absolutly spot on. But especially in situation like inside a company, you do not use twitter (you should be shot for _that_ if you do) but a tool like twitter.

    Microblogging implies the limitation of length and quite frankly for me also the limitation to text. That is something you do need a separate term for. Make the test: With the above in mind about why it is not just about twitter, if somebody tells you “we have started microblogging” do you have a precice idea what somebody is doing? I would bet yes. And as such there is a need for the term.

    Re conversation: Cluetrain Manifesto is having its 10 year aniversary in 2009 – and still most people dont get it. I am afraid you will hear about conversations for a bit longer. ;)

  • http://www.marketingwithmeaning.com/ Bob Gilbreath

    Nice job, Adam. I think every once in a while our niche of “new media gurus” needs a (negative) wake up call and reality check. I’ve just done a Word search on my book so far and am pleased to find that I’ve used none of these words in a positive way.

  • http://www.marketingwithmeaning.com Bob Gilbreath

    Nice job, Adam. I think every once in a while our niche of “new media gurus” needs a (negative) wake up call and reality check. I’ve just done a Word search on my book so far and am pleased to find that I’ve used none of these words in a positive way.

  • Alex S.

    As someone who works in product development, having people devoted to user experience (whether in full or as a partial responsibility depending on the needs of the company) is actually extremely helpful in the prototyping stages of software development.

    There are actually an unfortunately low number of people who truly understand how a user uses a product and an even lower number of people that understand the value in going out and showing the prototype to real users and gathering feedback.

    Companies who actually spend time on user experience succeed – think Apple and their long line of successful products. On the other hand, companies who employ “user experience experts” who don’t go out and consult real users tend to be less successful, or fail.

    So, really, it’s all in how you use the term.

  • Alex S.

    As someone who works in product development, having people devoted to user experience (whether in full or as a partial responsibility depending on the needs of the company) is actually extremely helpful in the prototyping stages of software development.

    There are actually an unfortunately low number of people who truly understand how a user uses a product and an even lower number of people that understand the value in going out and showing the prototype to real users and gathering feedback.

    Companies who actually spend time on user experience succeed – think Apple and their long line of successful products. On the other hand, companies who employ “user experience experts” who don’t go out and consult real users tend to be less successful, or fail.

    So, really, it’s all in how you use the term.

  • http://www.wozniakgroup.com/SEO-Naperville-Illinois.html Luke

    Wow…almost right. I got to disagree on a few. Some terms have just been so exploited because every Tom, Dick and Harry is now positioning themselves as experts in 17 different things. This is how he got here.

  • http://www.wozniakgroup.com/SEO-Naperville-Illinois.html Luke

    Wow…almost right. I got to disagree on a few. Some terms have just been so exploited because every Tom, Dick and Harry is now positioning themselves as experts in 17 different things. This is how he got here.

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