If your goal is to convey a clear and comprehensible message to a diverse audience, then you should generally avoid using industry-specific jargon and buzzwords altogether. Esoteric terminology and acronyms tend to encumber communication, delay progress, and either bore or annoy audiences, according to Virgin Group founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson. Obviously, none of those outcomes is desirable.
However, a working knowledge of new buzzwords and jargon can prove useful for at least four reasons:
1) If someone asks you “What does X mean?”, you’ll be able to offer a better answer than “I don’t know.”
2) Many esoteric terms indicate trends in your industry of which you should be aware.
3) If you receive communications that contain buzzwords and jargon, you’ll be able to decode them and translate them into plain English.
4) Provided you know that your audience will understand precisely what you mean, buzzwords can occasionally spare you the time and effort of describing a complex idea in a roundabout way. Why use 150 words when one or two will suffice?
Here is a list of some popular business buzzwords you may have come across this year, and their definitions.
The Internet of Things (IoT): This term has a variety of definitions that range from concrete descriptions of our daily reality (the devices that gather, retain, and communicate information digitally, such as smartphones, tablets, servers, and computers) to speculative visions of the future (eventually, everyday physical objects will be integrated within our digital networks and capable of identifying themselves to other digital devices. Imagine your bedside lamp connecting wirelessly with your smartphone.) You’ll have to infer the appropriate definition from the context of the discussion.
The “it factor”: synonymous with familiar terms like “the X factor” or “the secret ingredient”. The “it factor” is the attribute or set of qualities that make(s) your enterprise special.
Momtrepreneur or Mompreneur: an enterprising businesswoman who balances the demands of founding a startup with the challenge of raising kids.
Conversation marketing: As opposed to content marketing, conversation marketing is an approach to attracting clients and customers that prioritizes interpersonal dialogue, rather than top-down communication.
H2H or Human-to-Human: the conceptualization of prospective clients or customers as fellow human beings with wants and needs that a business can help to satisfy, rather than as targets for one-way advertising messages. Effective H2H marketing involves tailored, audience-appropriate communication and encourages feedback. H2H is closely related to conversation marketing, and the two often go hand-in-hand.
Remarketing: a form of follow-up using automated text messages or e-mails to customers who have just left a business or website without following through on a deal. A remarketing message might try to entice a recently departed customer back to an e-commerce website after that customer has abandoned h/er shopping cart.
Freemium: a portmanteau of “free” and “premium”. This refers to pricing models in which a website offers a basic account with limited functionality for free, and a more versatile premium account for a monthly or annual fee. LinkedIn, for instance, features a freemium pricing model.
The suffixes -hack and -jack: By now, you’ve almost certainly encountered the term growth hacking, and you may be familiar with life-hacks (techniques or insights that can help you succeed at a particular facet of life). The suffix -jack—which implies stealing, hijacking, or piggybacking off of something that already exists—features in memes like newsjacking (leveraging a news item in order to communicate a marketing message) and brandjacking (appropriating or manipulating an existing brand to serve alternate ends). Environmental organization Greenpeace often employs brandjacking tactics in its campaigns.