With new technologies, new companies and new blood comes new terminology -- some of which can be confusing. We’ve all been there. I know that when I’m in a meeting and someone drops a phrase I’m not familiar with, all I can do is smile and nod and hope no one asks me to elaborate before I get the chance to look it up. Rightsizing? KPL? Are these even real terms?
The thing is, we’re all a part of this evolving world of language. Some terms are obvious, while others are consistently used incorrectly. And sometimes, people will use a buzzword just to cover up the fact that they don’t know what they’re talking about. That guy telling you about synergistic trending going viral on a second screen market? He’s still coming to grips with the idea of hashtags. The more you know of these key terms, the easier it will be to spot him -- and to impress in your own right.
It can be a chore, so I’ve assembled these 11 buzzwords to get you started. Learn the lingo, and you’ll not only avoid an embarrassing encounter, but you’ll be the expert -- and know when the person you’re talking to isn’t.
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Definition: Using social media to produce business objectives, from brand awareness to product sales. When your tweet is shared, reposted, discussed, liked, and created an organic social media buzz, congratulations -- you've gone viral.
How it should be used: This one is an incredibly common term, meant to demonstrate that a lot of people are interested. It’s saying that there’s a digital audience, and that it has the social media currency to prove it.
Watch out for: The optimist who tells you that everything is going to go viral, or who claims that something's viral but can't back up the statement with numbers. If everything was viral, nothing would be viral.
2. Big data.
Definition: This refers to massive data sets that can reveal people's current and developing habits and patterns -- if they’re properly analyzed.
How it should be used: This term can be used in almost any context. There's an ocean of endless data out there, and it can deal with anything, with wide variations in volume, variety, velocity, variability and veracity. It only gets specific once you look at it in focused increments.
Watch out for: The person who holds up big data as a solution to a problem, but can't offer a plan of attack. This one is very easy to be vague on, so you'll want specifics.
3. 360 Campaign.
Definition: A marketing plan that is both online and offline, in print, on social media and more.
How it should be used: This is a description, rather than a literal technique.
Watch out for: The pitch that uses this term to impress, then focuses right in on a favorite medium. If you’re not all-around, you’re not 360. It’s right there in the name!
Definition: A results-oriented approach is one focused on achieving goals, rather than "doing it the way we’ve always done it."
How it should be used: To denote that your concern is not for existing procedures, but on finding the best procedures to get the job done. It’s most relevant when talking about new initiatives, or about how to make existing ones more efficient and effective.
Watch out for: The overly results-oriented individual. This person may have a problem using previously established processes. A little healthy disruption is great, but disrupting everything all the time usually means you’re not getting much done.
5. Growth hacking.
Definition: Building and engaging the user base of a business through rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development, with the goal of identifying the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.
How it should be used: A growth hacker -- they’re often marketers, engineers or product managers -- is basically a social scientist, running experiments to figure out what techniques and strategies will best grow a business. Basically, a growth hacker comes up with new kinds of pasta to throw at the wall, in search of the one that sticks and is perfectly al dente.
Watch out for: The self-declared growth hacker who can't offer any concepts they'd like to try or experiments they've done.
Related: 5 Ways to Think Like a Growth Hacker
Definition: The formation of ideas or concepts.
How it should be used: Really, this one is a classic example of corporate jargon. The term actually comes from psychology, where it's usually the second half of not-so-fun phrases beginning with words like "delusional."
Watch out for: The hype man. This term isn't really one you'll see used incorrectly, but hearing it could be an indication that you're talking to someone who likes to disguise their 15 daily coffee breaks and lack of actual work behind a wall of jargon.
7. Native advertising.
Definition: Native advertising is a type of disguised advertising, usually online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. The word "native" refers to the coherence of the content with the other media that appears on the platform.
How it should be used: Instead of pop-up ads or banners with links to other products, the advertising is mixed seamlessly with the content of the site itself. More or less, it’s integrated product placement for websites, linking an article or video with the specific intent to promote a product, matching the style of the platform itself.
Watch out for: The offer of, or pitch for, native advertising that's a little too native -- that makes absolutely no differentiation between paid and editorial content. Audiences are catching on to this one, and they don’t like it.
Definition: To convert something to an appropriate or optimum size, most often staff.
How it should be used: This may just sound like a more positive spin on the word downsizing -- because that’s exactly what it is. The only difference is that rightsizing is done proactively. Downsizing is done retroactively to fix a problem.
Watch out for: This term! Whether it's rightsizing or downsizing, if you fall victim to it, you’re looking for a new job.
9. Second screen experience.
Definition: Using a mobile device, tablet or other device while viewing content, especially to access supplementary content or applications.
How it should be used: As people started checking their phones during movies and television shows, they started missing the content of the entertainment, and the advertisements marketed towards them. The second screen experience is a way to grab your attention on two platforms at once, creating a synergy between two devices vying for your attention.
Watch out for: The person who hasn't figured out that what's happening on both screens has to be complementary, not identical.
10. Any acronym, honestly.
Definition: It varies, obviously, but some of the most popular are ROI (Return on Investment), KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and CPL (Cost Per Like).
How it should be used: Like ideation and rightsizing, this is another way to use language tricks to make your cool tech company sound cooler. Terms like Key Performance Indicator sound boring, and Cost Per Like sounds like the priority of a middle school girl. Making these terms into acronyms gives a millennial face to whatever is being pitched.
Watch out for: The guy who uses all of the acronyms he's ever heard in one sentence. We all know this guy, and we all know he doesn't know what half of those acronyms mean.
Definition: This is not a word.
How it should be used: If someone is using this in a sentence, get out while you still can.
Watch out for: This word.
These are just a few examples, but there are so many others. What did I miss? What terms have you heard that stumped you and others? Sound off below, because these buzz words aren’t buzzing off any time soon.