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I've spent a fair amount of time moving and operating in digital marketing circles over the last six years or so, and have made plenty of sardonic mental notes and observations along the way. Perhaps too many. 

Nevertheless, without further introductions or excuses, here are six of my 'favourite' digital marketing lines, when they're usually said; who by, and what they really should be. 

All intended in good humour of course:

1. SEO is dead

The most wantonly aggressive of the six.

Used: Whenever the surrounding context suits the demise of SEO: usually if it's in the interests of an alternative or opposing service that should probably be rationally supplemented by SEO anyway.

Used by: This line is especially common, mainly used by bloggers and anyone not involved in search, but it's also used by quite a few SEOs who try to make the conflicting point that SEO isn't actually about search engine rankings anymore (why is it called SEO then!!!?).

Should be: Spammy and isolated SEO is dead (but then it probably should never have existed anyway).

2. Content is king

Can confusingly sound like an unwanted outburst of expletives.

Used: When the extremely simple point of making content 'good' needs to be expressed in a far grander and wiser way than the basic idea.

Used by: A wide range of bloggers and titles, but probably before a contradictorily-bland infographic is rushed out in the hope that it'll then go 'viral'.

Should be: Genuinely imaginative and well executed ideas are king (and this is far easier said than done).

3. They don't get 'social'

One of my favourites. I do genuinely like hearing this one in a perverse way.

Used: When a social media marketing pitch or key meeting has gone badly.

Used by: Anyone suffering from cognitive dissonance after either of the scenarios above.

Should be: We didn't manage expectations or explain the purpose of the project clearly enough.

4. Social media ROI can't be measured

Said with increasingly shaky conviction and self-doubt.

Used: When a highfalutin excuse is needed for a nebulous engagement strategy (or - more excusably - before analytical tools of any social-media-measuring nous were introduced).

Used by: The people selling the strategy, internally and externally.

Should be: Social media ROI can now (just about) be measured.

5. Let’s link SEO & Social (or PPC etc.)

Sometimes garnished with an intense stare and a joining of fists gesticulation.

Used: When a strategy or campaign ‘needs’ hastily tacked-on appendages from other departments and areas.  

Used by: ‘Visionaries’ within agencies who have grander ideas than the layman.

Should be: Let’s make sure that everyone has a broad enough skill-set so that this doesn’t actually have to happen in such a clumsy way.

6: We should engage with key influencers

Annoyingly difficult to fundamentally disagree with.

Used: Whenever (another) piece of content for Steve’s Miniature Bonsais needs to be promoted to Mashable and TechCrunch.

Used by: Anyone involved in promotion or strategy.

Should be: We should find people who'll realistically be interested and approach them authentically.

I was also going to include a seventh about content curation, but still don’t understand what it means despite barking the term at clients and colleagues on many occasions.

Any of your own examples from digital marketing’s spurious lexicon? 

Michael Wilkins

Published 3 April, 2012 by Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins is a freelance Online Consultant and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can contact him on LinkedIn.

9 more posts from this author

Comments (23)

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Tim Aldiss

Tim Aldiss, Consultant/Director at ThinkSearch

Nice one Michael :)

about 4 years ago

Mark Higginson

Mark Higginson, Director of Social Media at iCrossing

Great post Mike. I LOLed. Is 'social business' a cliche yet?

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Mark, Tim, glad you enjoyed. 'Social Business' is on the cusp I think, on balance it should've probably been in there.

Also, we should probably have a beer soon.

about 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I loved #5. The whole point of linking social and SEO is so that everything fits together and makes sense. Why spin your wheels in different directions?

about 4 years ago

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Ant Miller

Fine work sir. With you on the curation thing. Comes up quite a lot in TV too, but tends to be referenced with a distinct wince, as if it's a meaningful term, but far less sexy than the speaker would like, and suggests tweed when they were thinking more along the lines of tron.

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Nick, agreed (I think), too many organisations isolate departments and skills and then try and go back and link stuff together, which is probably counterintuitive in most cases.

Ant, thanks. I'm still confused and also frightened by that term.

about 4 years ago

David Preece

David Preece, Head of Engagement at Beyond

Smashing stuff, Mike.

about 4 years ago

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Phil Purdie

Am on the buy-side of SocMed and it is nice to see people on the sell-side cutting through the jargon and telling us what is what. The crucial thing for me is to have a manageable, integrated strategy that can be conducted without large-scale resources, intricate tracking systems and information over-load. Sounds like something you are working towards...thanks Mike!

about 4 years ago

David Sealey

David Sealey, Head of Digital Consulting at CACIEnterprise

Personally I treat any statement that begins "You've gotta..." as snake oil. Commonly this is used in the following ways:

"You've gotta be social"
"You've gotta be on Facebook"
"You've gotta have a blog"
"You've gotta have a mobile site"

Deciding which marketing tactics we've "gotta" employ should be based on a sound strategy based on real market data.

Great post.

David

about 4 years ago

Kai Kurihara

Kai Kurihara, Online Marketing Manager - Assurance at NCC Group PLCSmall Business

This is excellent. Made me chuckle quite a lot on this snowy day :)

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

David, I totally agree. Statements as firm and cocksure as that really need to be backed up by solid reasoning and qualification.

I also prefer 'got to' to 'gotta', as I'm Scottish but some folk can forget their nationality in this business.

Kai, glad the post made you chuckle. That was my intention.

about 4 years ago

Sarah Alder

Sarah Alder, Managing Director at Cranmore Digital Consulting Ltd

How about adding "Let's take a step back and look at this strategically".
Used: when the client has found a flaw in the agency's proposal
Used by: consultants or account directors who didn't spend enough time working on the proposal.
Should be "That's a good point, how would you like to see that part of the project approached (or something similarly in defensive and conversation-starting).

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Sarah, yes, I've heard that line or a version of it said many times, sometimes by myself. That's number 7.

about 4 years ago

Ivor Morgan

Ivor Morgan, Personal

"We need a content curation strategy"

Used: When the client hasn't the ability to create new knowledge or to genuinely lead thought and is happy to create second-hand SEO fodder
Used by: Almost all SEO companies who recite the "Content is King" mantra (see #2)
Should be: "Let's copy and paste some old crud found on t'internet, not bother to add any value to it, slap a title at the top of the page and call it market intelligence"

P.S. My personal opinion

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Ivor, you've just written the content curation bit that I didn't manage to fit in. Thank you.

about 4 years ago

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Justin Thorne

One of my favorites, and I have heard it from clients and competitors alike:

"We/You need to engage with the Social Layer."

This is a bit like number 5 in your list, very hard to disagree with and yet my problem with it is that it suggests that the 'Social Layer' is an entity in and of itself... rather than simply a channel to reach living breathing customers.

It also encourages the misconception that all you need to do to 'engage' is set-up a presence.

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Justin, agreed. I've only heard that one a few times but those kind of pretentious statements make me laugh, inwardly and sometimes outwardly too. Also, the line somehow conjures to mind a tasty new chocolate bar that involves caramel.

Thanks for the input.

about 4 years ago

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Sarah Alder

Michael I think you have started the Econsultancy buzz word bingo development committee. Econsultancy should provide us with a monthly list of terms and award prizes for the first person to experience them all, first hand, from clients or colleagues. There will be a level of trust involved but as the "prize" will be the knowledge that you have entertained the community, that seems an acceptable risk. Econsultancy, what do you think?

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Sarah, quick note to let you know that I fully back you on this.

about 4 years ago

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Neale Gilhooley

Loved #6: We should engage with key influencers.

Or we could just continue to sell to our customers, why when engaging sound more…engaging?

about 4 years ago

Sarah Alder

Sarah Alder, Managing Director at Cranmore Digital Consulting Ltd

Oh Neale, you've just upset all the econsultancy members in not for profit organisations. Oooh, that's reminded me or another one. Calling not for profit organisations "not for loss organisations".

about 4 years ago

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Kenny A

"Content is king" I think you need a lot of content, but not necessary the best content. The bigger your site the better, but most sites don't have great content. If 10% of my site is really good, I'm happy with that.

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Kenny, 10% of content being really good is decent - assuming the other 90% isn't terrible. It's not possible to constantly produce outstanding, genre-breaking content.

The statement 'content is king' is a shallow one though, it probably doesn't need to be said and certainly shouldn't be said as if it's profound.

about 4 years ago

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