How to Use Buzzwords


My last few posts for Social Media Club were about the use and abuse of the word “engagement.” Be it a metric or mediaspeak, it got me thinking about buzzwords.

Buzzwords are unavoidable. Admit it: how many times have you delivered a presentation and words such as “transparent,” “disruptive,” “empower” or “authentic” slipped out? They are a necessary evil. Even if you make it a personal point not to use them, they will come up.

Why? Because buzzwords alert us to business trends and establish cultural context. In some cases, buzzwords evolved out of industry concepts such as “big data,” “the sharing economy” or “the internet of things” which have arguably crossed into buzzword territory.

So how do you use buzzwords effectively?

Proceed with Caution

Sure, buzzwords can make you appear intelligent. Or, it can come across as stupid. When it comes to buzzwords, there is a fine line between expert and charlatan, professional and amateur. So tread cautiously when you use buzzwords.


What is trendy now is quickly yesterday’s news — especially in the social and digital media fields. Try to anticipate ahead of time if the word you want to use has jumped the shark or is something people still care about.

Know What They Mean

This might be a no-brainer but make sure you are using the buzzword correctly. Make sure you know it inside out. Better yet, take it a step further and elaborate with its practical use.


It’s easy to use a few buzzwords to sound smart. If you are using them just to come across as savvy and slick, you are using it wrong.


Never use buzzwords as filler words. Many buzzwords are abused to pad out media decks and company “about” statements. Ask yourself if using those words are really necessary and are only used to fill up space.


Use buzzwords as little as possible. If you can say what you mean in layman’s terms, then do. There’s a reason the old adage of “keep it simple, stupid” has stuck around.


We have a love/hate relationship with buzzwords. As much as we use them seriously, we also love to poke fun at their adoption. The Internet is full of generators, games like Buzzword Bingo, and lists that mock their use. So make fun of yourself for using them. It will lighten the situation. It’s surprising how everyone has their pet peeves when it comes to buzzwords. It can be be fun, interesting, and even helpful to know words make your clients’ or colleagues’ skin crawl.

What buzzwords get your blood boiling? Tweet me @melissadewitte and @socialmediaclub with the hashtag #smclub.