Buzzwords come in many forms. We have all seen lists of buzzwords we should do away with immediately and those we should learn to embrace. They are by definition trendy, and it can become tedious to keep up with which buzzwords are en vogue and which have crossed over to cringe-worthy.

In addition to using the right buzzwords, you also need to be mindful of how often you're using them in your content overall. There's a fine line between sounding like an industry expert and using them so often that your message gets lost.

Buzzwords can provide important benefits to your content. Words like "lean" are so often misused that, when used correctly and backed up with valuable content, they can enforce the idea that you are an expert in your field.

They can also help readers of your content understand what you do thanks to their sheer popularity. If you're writing about how you've "disrupted" your industry, readers immediately know that your focus is on innovation.

Perhaps most importantly, they're attention-grabbing and can draw your reader in. They do, after all, create buzz.

Here are three ways to blend buzzwords into your content in a way that enhances your message.

1. Remember the Goal

We sometimes use an overabundance of buzzwords when we're not sure of our message. Step back and get clear on what you're trying to communicate. Eliminate any jargon that doesn't help you achieve your goal of delivering something of value to your reader, and refine those sentences so that they get at the heart of your message more simply.

For instance, I could tell you to keep the value-add front of mind and to communicate your ideas in a snackable, authentic fashion. Or I could simply suggest that you remember the value you are trying to share and double-check that your succinct word choices and tone help you achieve it. Which version helps you write better content?

2. Own Your Expert Status

While your audience may often be industry peers, it could also include potential customers. Your peers know the lingo, and you can be more liberal with your use of industry-specific buzzwords in content intended for them.

Customers, on the other hand, don't know the landscape of your industry as well. You run the risk of losing them if the language is too heavy with buzzwords they can't understand.

Read your draft from their perspective. Would a customer understand all the terms? If not, define them or replace them entirely.

As the expert, it's your job to make sure that customers are able to make an informed choice between you and your competitors. If you include too many words that they aren't familiar with, they won't know what sets you apart, and you'll miss the opportunity to win them over.

I often refer to my company, Greenleaf Book Group, as "author-centric." Those within the publishing industry are more likely to know this term. For potential authors, however, I take care to explain that this means they retain creative control and ownership of their work - both of which are big points of differentiation for us.

3. Create Your Own

Part of the challenge with removing unnecessary buzzwords from your content lies in filling the holes with something equally compelling but also true to your message.

If the only solutions you can find are awkward, consider defining what you do in a completely new word.

This can be tricky to achieve but could have great benefits for your brand, allowing you to own a new space and establish yourself as the go-to expert in your industry. Usually new buzzwords play off of tried-and-true business terms, which give your audience an idea of what the term means while still leaving some intrigue.

Book titles provide some excellent examples, as they're often launching pads for new concepts. Think Freakonomics, Lean In, Essentialism and The Tipping Point. There was once a time when these terms weren't in our vocabularies, but these authors carved out their own space and gave us something to talk about.

If you go this route, you should also find several ways to define and reinforce the new word's meaning so that your audience is not confused for longer than a few seconds. Place links to a more thorough explanation within your content and follow its first use with a short explanation.

With these tools, you will be able to create buzzword-balanced content that is impactful, authentic - and most of all - meaningful.

Published on: Oct 7, 2016
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