When it comes to social media, 2013 was a pretty watershed year for brands and platforms alike.
Oreo won widespread praise for the way it took advantage of the power outage at the Super Bowl with its "You can still dunk in the dark" tweet; Google's nascent Google+ platform broke the 500 million user barrier; and social channels continued to play key roles in political uprisings, as witnessed in Brazil this past summer.
However, with all the positive steps of a maturing social media comes an inevitable byproduct: overhyped buzzwords. From prefixing (and suffixing) the word marketing, to feel-good soundbites that had little real-business benefits behind them, 2013 will be remembered as the year that social media became home to some of the most annoying and overhyped buzzwords online.
Here are the top five as crowdsourced from across the Web.
1. 'Lessons Learned' From Blog Posts
Whenever there's a crisis on social media channels—or an offline crisis that's amplified via social media—you can pretty much guarantee that within 24 hours there will be a batch of blog posts published with titles such as, "What Crisis X Can Teach Us About Business" or "Lessons Learned from the Brand X Social Media Crisis."
While some of these posts may offer value, many are simply jumping on the bandwagon to drive traffic to their blogs, without actually offering any deep or insightful lessons. This has led to a strong feeling of apathy and sarcasm directed toward the authors of these posts.
"Everything is not a lesson, especially natural disasters, terrorist threats, and anything that happens to a bunch of people at once. Stop exploiting tragedy for profit." Tinu Abayomi-Paul, chief visibility officer at Leveraged Promotion
2. Everything Is Dead!
You've probably heard the conversations online: SEO is dead. Print is dead. Advertising is dead. PR is dead. Email is dead. And so on. It's almost impossible to browse your Twitter feed or Google+ stream and not come across a blog post or update with one of these statements being made.
And yet, here we are. SEO is still here; print still has its audience; advertising continues to profit; PR is still a core part of any brand's strategy; and email continues to lead the way as the preferred communication channel for business. Despite the naysayers—or perhaps, in spite of them—it would appear the demise they write of hasn't quite happened.
"We need to stop implying that a certain practice is dead. Nothing really dies, it either adapts or recycles. The adoption curve goes from innovators to laggards and all need something at different stages." —Ann Marie van den Hurk, principal at Mind the Gap PR
3. Go Viral
Perhaps it's no surprise that brands want a viral hit, whether that's a YouTube video that gets millions of views, or a piece of content that gets shared across every channel. After all, if you can come up with the next Old Spice Guy sensation, everyone can retire.
The problem is, the allure of viral—mass uptake by your target audience and those not yet aware of your brand—is the very thing that's made viral overhyped, and hurts your chances for success.
"The allure of going viral is ultimately a distraction for brands because it focuses on marketing to the crowd. When you chase an elusive crowd you have no connection to in the hope of going viral, you're setting your business up for failure. Viral campaigns tend to be one-offs with limited shelf life, and quickly fizzle out." —Allyson Kapin, founding partner at RAD Campaign
4. Social Business
Perhaps one of the most overhyped and overused social media buzzwords in 2013 was the term "social business." A complete industry seemed to appear overnight, with agencies and consultants offering multiple definitions—a business that places equal value on employees as it does stakeholders; the culture, connections and participation of a brand; and being part of a "collaborative economy."
However, this merely diluted the definition of what it means to be a true social business—one that is created and designed to address a societal problem, and is a non-dividend company where profits are reinvested in the business or used to start another one with the aim of increasing social impact. That's a far cry from the corporate definition being touted in 2013.
5. Brand Storytelling
People like stories. From early cavemen sitting around a fire to the likes of Hans Christian Andersen, stories have the power to captivate audiences and keep them lost in that moment. It's into this arena that brands have started to promote their own history and goals through the medium of storytelling. At least that's their attempted goal.
The problem is, storytelling needs that emotional impact to truly connect. And many brands who are now telling their stories miss that key tenet, and instead of captivating an audience, drive it away through clearly forced and weak attempts to connect.
"Storytelling is a true art, an essence that's hard to capture. You can't expect others to see it or feel it unless you deliver it properly. When we try to market through storytelling, I don't think many know what that really means—storytelling is not interchangeable with copywriting." — Julie Pippert, founder and director at Artful Media Group
Saturation Before Maturation?
When polling for this article, there were many other popular phrases that people consider overhyped: Web 3.0, content marketing, influence marketing—pretty much anything marketing that wasn't simply marketing—big data and more.
While social media matures as a business solution as well as a societal one, it continues to go through growing pains. Overcoming overhyped buzzwords is one of those pains.
What buzzwords do you think should have made this list? Add them in the comments section below.
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