Buzzwords and jargon are found in every field and around almost any topic and they are created and employed by people who wish to demonstrate that they know what they're talking about and often to show that they know more than you do. How do you think that makes people feel who you consider valuable members of your brand community?
Buzzwords are like passwords that make people feel like they are locked out if they don't fully understand their meaning. Customers, clients, and supporters will feel like they are on the outside of your community if this is how they are made to feel and that's the exact opposite outcome any business who cares about nurturing loyalty and affection for their brand should want.
Bullshit Baffles Brains
Another great saying I got from my dad many years ago is "bullshit baffles brains". And nothing conveys bullshit better than tossing around jargon and insider speak.
We all know people who indicate that they are no longer speaking confidently on a subject matter that they know well as soon as they start throwing around buzzwords. Their hope is that they are using the right "passwords" and fooling you into thinking they are in the club on this topic, especially if you are as much on the outside as they are. They wish to elevate their standing on the subject at your expense. Their in, you're out.
>> Read David Hayward's new blog post in Learn by Sociallogical™: Zero Tolerance for Bullying If Any Community Is Going to Thrive
Let the sudden onslaught of jargon, freshly introduced in an ongoing conversation, be an indicator to you that you are no longer talking to a confident person.
The Jargon of My Industry
The jargon I hate most in my field is the overuse of the term "social media". I hope it dies soon and this is why: social media is modern media in our current age and it is often used to baffle brains and conjure the complexities and fears that people feel who see it as an ever changing technological landscape that they can't catch up to, let alone wrestle to the ground.
My wife tells me even my overuse of the word "community" in a business context can be confusing to some people. I can understand that as businesses have rarely seen the collection of customers, employees, supporters, and fans as a community with shared values, ideas, and desires. So there you go, that's my explanation of that term.
Bring People In
Concepts and ideas are what define a community, not the lingo that emerges from it.
But the fact is that every industry or topic eventually develops an efficient shorthand of acronyms, buzzwords and phrases that spread among the insiders. The difference between those who care about their supporters and those who don't is that the community builders will take the time to explain their jargon and bring the outsiders in.
Contrary to using jargon to exclude people, take the time to explain the lingo to those who care to know it because it is a great way to welcome people in and to be part of your ongoing discussion and an informed, evolving point of view.
If you need to use jargon, explain it with respect. Use it only as a shorthand to a more complex idea and make sure your listener knows what that bigger idea is all about.
Use your words to bring people in, welcome them to your community, and gain the confidence to participate in your dialogue with their own thoughts and ideas on a subject that may have locked them out before. That's what community builders do.
What are the buzzwords and jargon you wish would go away in your field?