12 Days of Christmas … 12 most popular buzzwords of 2015

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12 most popular buzzwords of 2015

So every year there is an abundance of new buzzwords in any industry, and marketing is certainly no exception.

If you have been for any marketing consultations this year, or work closely with a marketing agency, you may recognise as few of these. Here is the countdown of the 12 words we marketers may have been guilty of overusing a little this year. What they mean. And why they might have become so vital in our vocabulary.

Millennials - buzzword of 2015


Millennials are defined as the generation born between 1980 and 2000. And are said to be taking over as the largest generation in the world. As well as becoming the largest income earners. Which makes them a very valuable audience to the majority of companies.

But with millennials changing many long term patterns such as house ownership, marriage and thoughts towards gender equality. They have a lot of companies on their toes. Age old patterns and advertising has suddenly become not enough for ‘generation Y’.

Not only is there changing attitudes, meaning advertising messages have to be changed. There has been a surge in the need for companies to be tech ready. Meaning they are easily accessible and usable over the internet, or more pointedly on mobiles and tablets.

Which leads us to marketers. Where we are all trying to keep up with the constantly changing needs and wants of a millennial audience. Which means not only thinking of the messages that need to come across, but the method of delivery. How the audience will be able to interact with that, and how clients can then monitor the results. That will keep up with this generation.

The process behind all of this can be hard to convey to clients at the best of times. Let alone when some clients don’t necessarily understand this new need for responsive websites, social media and interactive ads. Which I believe means a few of us may have been guilty of overusing ‘millennials’ as a phrase whilst trying to explain why companies need to consider certain marketing methods. Not to mention, it is also a very exciting age in our industry as well. Which we sometimes just have to share with you, our clients!


Newsjacking - buzzword of 2015 


Newsjacking is not a new term. It’s actually something we have mentioned in our blogs previously when looking at topical content. It is said to have been thought of by marketer David Meerman Scott. Who wrote a book on the topic in 2011 (you can buy it here).

Newsjacking, put simply, is using popular news stories to amplify your own content or marketing. Meaning more sales and success for you. This doesn’t mean jumping on every story out there. This means occasionally using relevant, and appropriate, news stories to reflect back on your own products or services.

So why has it become a buzzword in 2015? Well from what we can see, some brands have really managed to get the hang of it. While others have completely failed at it, but both outcomes have got people talking about ‘Newsjacking’.


Oreo are possibly the most known modern example of Newsjacking. When in 2013 they created a response in less than 4 minutes to the blackout at the Superbowl. With a darkened picture, and the tag line “you can still dunk in the dark” the image was shared across social media. Almost 16,000 retweets later, their quick thinking had proven to be a success.

Example of oreo using newsjacking


Let’s look at a more recent example, in the UK. You may possibly have heard of Jeremy Clarkson getting himself in some bother earlier this year. With him getting into an argument with a producer over a missed dinner. Which ended in the producer being assaulted, and Clarkson being sacked by the BBC.

Now, not many brands could have jumped on this in an appropriate manner, but snickers managed to do just that. With their whole campaign being ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’, they promptly sent a box of snickers to Mr Clarkson with the caption. Then uploaded the picture to Twitter. And twitter loved it.

example of snickers using newsjacking

So how do you do Newsjacking? Your first decision is to pick a relevant and appropriate story. If you can’t make it work for your brand, or you’re not sure how the message will be received, maybe hold off on this story.

Then it’s all about the timing. It’s recommended that you try to implement your Newsjacking just before the story gains momentum. Before people start looking for more information on the subject.


Brand storytelling - buzzword of 2015 

Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is more than just your logo. It’s the collection of thought trails and actions that work together to define your brand. These then inform your strategy.

Brand storytelling is not a new concept. But it is something more and more brands are taking on. Which may explain why the phrase has been saturated in 2015.


What also may have added to it is Lego. And it’s movie, and the “storytelling” it created. There are many articles on how The Lego Movie is one of the greatest examples of brand storytelling, but I am not sure I agree with that. Lego are great at marketing. Produced a cracking film and all of their key messages do feature in the film. Everyone can be creative. They can enjoy Lego can be enjoyed regardless of your age. And Lego is fun. Which are consistent messages that Lego has used. However I don’t believe the film itself was storytelling. Just a longer advertisement of their product. A ridiculously good advertisement but an advertisement none the less.

Red Bull

Personally I think a better example of brand storytelling strategy is Red Bull. When you think of Red Bull you think high energy, taking risks and sarcastic adverts. Almost all the marketing Red Bull does for their brand revolves around that. You can watch some events and know that they are Red Bull events before the sponsoring has even come up. That fun level of energetic, risky, quirkiness is something that defines them completely as a brand. It’s something that sells a lot of Red Bull with people trying to achieve that feeling they create within their marketing. It’s not necessarily the product that sells itself, it’s the story that comes with it, and people wanting to be part of that story.

I think brand storytelling may be a contender on the 2016 buzzword list too, as I can see it gaining more momentum next year. With more brands trying to leave their mark, in an ever competitive world.

If you’re looking to use storytelling for your brand, consider your values. What you want to be associated with and something you can actually implement in your marketing.


Growth Hacker - buzzword of 2015

Growth Hacker

A Growth hacker is defined by Sean Ellis (who coined the phrase) as “a person whose truth north is growth”. Where everything they are about, and are working towards is growth.

There is a really comprehensive article by quicksprout which goes into great detail about Growth hacking. How it came about when the internet redefined the word product. Now instead of just considering physical goods as products, online systems could count as products too.

The internet also redefined distribution too. With more ways to reach your product than just direct sales to the consumer. SEO and Social Media have becomes tangible means of advertising and distributing your product.

Still a bit confused? Let’s have a look at some examples, namely Airbnb and Dropbox.


Sean Ellis (who we mentioned earlier) was in charge of Dropbox’s growth when it came up with the ‘refer a friend’ scheme. The actual deal was simple, if current users referred a friend to Dropbox, they received 16GB of free space. The customer’s happy that they get extra space. They have done your marketing for you by sending it to their friends. And Dropbox have lots of lovely new customers.

This was considered growth hacking, as it was seeing the potential in this product advertising itself. Without having to go down ‘traditional’ marketing routes.


Airbnb gets a lot of articles about its growth hacking ways. For those of you not familiar with Airbnb, it’s a site where home owners can rent out their spare rooms as hotel rooms, to strangers visiting their city. User’s place ads on Airbnb’s site, for travellers to browse. So what did Airbnb do to be considered growth hackers?

They thought outside of the box, and took advantage of another, well known website. One that already had a huge database – Craigslist.

They used Craigslist in two ways.

Firstly they offered users who posted an ad on their Airbnb website to also post the ad on Craigslist. This is not a feature that Craigslist allows. But it is one that Airbnb desperately wanted, to gain more users to their site, and more posts going up.

So Airbnb reverse engineered Craigslist’s code (you can find a more detailed explanation on this here) and were able to offer Airbnb users the opportunity to post directly onto Craigslist as part of their ad. Meaning they received plenty of external links back to their site. Their ads on craigslist were viewed more often, as they were of a higher quality. And once users had come through to Airbnb, they were more likely to visit the site directly in the future.

Secondly, they took advantage of those already listing their properties on Craigslist. For this they did what now constitutes as ‘spam’ really. As they messaged anyone who had a property listed, and asked them to check out Airbnb instead. This grew them followers at a huge rate, growing their audience.

So growth hacking could be seen to be clever marketing. However, as can be seen in the above example, it is not always follow best practices of the industry. I believe growth hacking has become a more popular term this year because companies want results now. And if you have a team who have other roles, they’re not going to be as focused as a single person – a growth hacker – on growing the company.


Viral - buzzword of 2015 


You may have had to be living in a cave to have not heard the term viral this year. But just in case you have, viral is a term given to a story/video/picture that is circulated rapidly across the internet.

And it is quite easy to see why this term has been so used in 2015. With a large majority of us owning smartphones, with updates, and posts and tweets coming through 24/7, and a ‘have you seen that video?’ ‘oh my god, did you hear about?’ culture, it’s easy to see how content gets shared so rapidly.

So what makes something go viral? First and foremost, do not say anything about going viral, or that this is intended to be viral content. People share content because it makes them feel something, whether that’s laughter, tears or just wow. People do not share content because somebody pushed the content in their face and told them to share it. Buzzfeed explained it in a great way in this article, saying that people don’t like to told to feel something, but if that content really does make them feel something, then they’ll want to share that experience with others. So be sincere, and if the content works, it will get shared.


For example, (and for any opportunity to share this video), my dad sent me a link to this advert years ago, because it made him laugh, and he thought it would make me laugh too.

And it obviously worked as an advertisement, as this was released in 2012, and I still remember this video, and it still makes me laugh. Here is TNT’s advert for ‘push to add drama’.

So how do you go ‘viral’? I don’t think there is an absolute formula for it, as we humans can be quite fickle, and change our minds quickly on what entertains or shocks us. I think when creating any content, you should make sure that it has a defined purpose, that it is well thought out, with a chance to build on if it is a success, and it is sincere in its meaning, as it is becoming easier and easier to see through those who are pretending. If your audience is able to form a real connection with your content, they are much more likely to share it.


Snackable Content - buzzwords of 2015

Snackable Content

Snackable content is small amounts of content that are easily ‘consumed’ and ‘digested’ by the reader.

As seems to be the pattern of things for 2015, as consumers, we want information fast, but we don’t want to be overwhelmed; enter snackable content.

Companies and marketers have jumped on this, as an opportunity to grab your attention multiple times throughout the day.

For example

Say for example you have just posted a new blog. That blog is quite long, as it is well researched, and full of great content, but you feel some people may reach it and be scared at how much is there, and leave again. So perhaps when you promote your blog on social media, rather than posting one tweet or link, you may post several links throughout the day, all containing different snippets of your blog. Perhaps those snippets are made into a graphic, with the quote over an image? Or maybe you’ve used a few images within the blog, and you would like to share those.

This not only gives more promotion for your blog, it gives people more opportunity to spot and share it, meaning more people to your blog. And those that may have been put off by the size of the article, have seen a quote they really like, and are more willing to read through it.

Sounds genius right? It can be, and it can really work on social media, which is why it seems to have been mentioned over and over by marketers in 2015. But it can also be repetitive and annoying if not done correctly.

Looking to create snackable content for your business? Then make sure the ‘snacks’ can stand on their own, and they still make sense if people haven’t spotted ‘the bigger picture’. Make it sharable, look at using images, or videos, or gifs to gain people’s interest. And same rules as ‘viral’ do not state that this is ‘snackable content’ as it is on our buzzword list, and people do not like buzzwords, it is less likely to be shared.


Value proposition - buzzwords of 2015 

Value Proposition

Value proposition is defined as a feature, or service that makes a company attractive to its prospective customers.

This is a tough one, as it is something that a business needs to talk about, but it has also been gracing buzzword lists since 2005. And this year is no exception. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.

We are guilty of using this one a little at The Marketing People. However, it is not without good reason. Defining what sets you apart from your competitors is part of building a successful business, and us asking whether you want to be known for your years of experience, or your low prices and quick service, means we can then strategically focus your marketing on that.


Big data - buzzword of 2015

Big Data

Big data is defined as large sets of data which are analysed to reveal more about the users, such as patterns, or associations. Pretty straight forward really.

So how big are we talking? Well, did you know that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. That’s a lot. And 2015 seems to be the year everyone’s talking about it. So what are companies doing with it?

Well some are shrouded in secret, which is a little worrying, but other businesses are using it to improve user experience, as well as their own business. This article has a few examples of companies using big data successfully, such as T-mobile. Who, like a lot of telecomm companies collect huge amounts of data every day. But they have put this data to use. By monitoring usage patterns and trends, they have been able to reduce customer exit rate by 50%, as well as ‘target’ those with influential social networks, giving them extra perks, knowing they will get more customers from it.

Big data will have been mentioned in marketing, as it makes the possibility of targeting your ideal audience even easier, and being able to see the patterns and trends of your potential customers will give you a plan on how to act next.


Gamification - buzzword of 2015 


Gamification is where game like activity is added to other areas (such as an advert) to motivate the user into interacting with it.

Though this idea has been around for quite some time now, and the term itself has been around for a few years, it seems to have gathered more momentum in 2015. With it being said that in 2015 four out of five households have a device that plays video games, it is no wonder that adverts appearing as games are catching our attention. Our constant needs for ‘achievements’ and reaching a certain ‘level’ has changed how some marketing campaigns have worked.

You may think you don’t use gamification within your own marketing, but if we widen the term, so we are looking at engaging customers and encouraging loyalty, you may get more of an idea of how it’s used. Many of us have loyalty cards for shops, which we continue to use to ‘unlock’ achievements. Many students who use eLearning systems will have experienced progress bars and charts, and encouragement to finish their work. Or those of us that use an electronic fitness band which tell us how many steps we’ve done, have probably experienced the need to complete our target steps for the day, prompted by reminders from the band.


One of the most literal examples of this over recent years has to be McDonald’s Monopoly game, which McDonalds run over the summer period. Customers get stickers that they collect, and can win prizes from. Customers can interact with McDonalds, and McDonalds get more sales from repeated business.

Want to use gamification in your own business? Look at what customers will enjoy to interact with, what will give them inspiration, and what inspires people to keep coming back.


Infographic - buzzword of 2015 


Infographics are visual representations of data or information, which may be tedious to read in text form, and are displayed in graphics to ease the transition of knowledge.

You will have seen infographics over social media, or maybe on your favourite brands blogs. So why has the term boomed in 2015? Well with more regular viewings of them on social media, easy to use tools to build them, and a generation that reacts well to visual information, it was only a matter of time before it boomed as a buzzword. If you’d like to see an infographic of an infographic (yes, that really is a thing) you can view a great one here, which estimates that traffic to websites is increased by around 12% after uploading an infographic.

So of course, increased viewings to a website will peak a marketers interest, and with marketers generally being creative anyway, infographics seem to have a very strong appeal, which may be why this term has been a little overused this year.


Rich media - buzzword of 2015

Rich Media

Rich Media is a term used to describe new forms of media than offer an enhanced experience, such as flash and shockwave, and are used with online ads to increase engagement.

You’ll have come across these on the internet, the ads that change when you hover your mouse over it, or expand to show you a message. They may be a bit more ‘in your face’ than standard online ads, but they do increase engagement.

Which is probably why you may have heard all about it in 2015. With competition for ads getting higher each day, if you’re looking to get more for your money, you have probably been encouraged to use a rich media ad, rather than just plain text.

Even in 2011, it was proven that rich media ads were 3 times more likely to get people to your website, compared to a standard banner ad, and with consumers growing in confidence since then on clicking through ads, and marketers relishing the opportunity to get creative, rich media seems to have boomed in 2015.


Thought leader - buzzword of 2015 

Thought Leader

Thought leadership means challenging the normal processes of your industry, and influencing people with new ideas. Thought leaders are individuals who are recognised and respected as an authoritative figure in their industry, whose expertise are sought after, meaning they encounter more success.

Again, not a new buzzword, but one I believe has gained momentum due to the rise in blogs and social media, meaning it is easier than ever before to advertise your content. With everyone who has access to a computer being able to publish blogs, and articles, and self-promote themselves, the ‘thought leader’ title may have become a bit diluted. Who is truly the leader when everyone is shouting for their place?

So how do you become a thought leader? Well unfortunately, there’s no formal recognition of it, so you can’t take a course or a test. It’s up to you to introduce new ideas, drive innovation, and become respected within your industry, which is becoming harder and harder to do each day.


Has our list hit the mark? What are the buzzwords you have heard most this year?

Take a look at the rest of our countdown to the 12 days of Christmas, for more advice, how to’s and examples of marketing during this festive season.


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