7 Social Media Buzzwords That Make Us Cringe

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BuzzwordsFor those looking for the perfect storm of formerly-catchy, all-that buzzwords in order to live la vida loca, this post is for you. Not only has the vernacular surrounding social media become totally square, and the-opposite-of-phat, but the vast majority of people using these once-fly words have no idea they are now totally lame.

Here is a quick rundown of words that should be removed from the suburban dictionary, stat:

1. User-Generated-Content

Latin for “crap,” user-generated-content (or UGC) is the buzzword used to describe anything published online by Average Joe. The problem is, most Average Joes who are posting content are also spending their weekends building bombs in their basements.

UGC is a fancy name used to make an unregulated, uneducated slew of junk sound like it’s sophisticated and profound (well beyond its qualifications). While it worked to hide the truth in the beginning, everyone who uses social media has since gotten wise, and UGC is now as overused and groan-worthy as a Gary Coleman joke.

2. Optimization

Offering optimization is a nice way of saying, “Hey, we’re gonna make your thing better at being a thing. We’re not sure how, but probably through optimizing it.” Most people can smell the BS from a mile away.

Whether it is keyword optimization, social media optimization, mobile optimization, or optimal optimization, the only real value the word “optimization” has is in a game of Scrabble. (63 points, not counting any double or triple word scores).

Monetize3. Monetize

The word “monetize,” a verb, refers to the process of enforcing a mythological state of being to something that has little or no value. “Monetize” is a fancy way of describing intentions to make something valuable, without ever outlining the process through which value will be instilled.

This means claiming to be able to make money off of something’s popularity, based on no factual evidence. While a few Internet ideas have been successfully monetized (Facebook, Google, AOL), the majority of them (Bob’s Fishing Blog) have not.

4. Authenticity

Authenticity is a buzzword that has been overused across all fields, mostly because it’s a fancy way to say “real.” Creating an “authentic” blog or giving a look of “authenticity” means “we will make this thing look real.”

However, beyond that, there is limited explanation. Just because Pinocchio said he was a real boy, does not make it so. Claiming that a product is authentic offers no assurance beyond stating that it will physically exist in time or space.

5. Green

Unfortunately, “green” is not a unit of measure. There is no established set of prerequisites that must be met before declaring one has “gone green.” Because of its popularity and fuzzy definition, everyone who’s anyone is going green.

Got that Hummer up to 12 MPG highway? Congrats on going green! Limited your amount of annual carbon emissions down to only two trillion tons? Congrats on going green! Posted a sign that reads, “Please turn off light in break room?” Congrats on going green! Because “going green” is a completely unregulated state of being, it has become a completely overused and annoying buzzword.

6. Synergy

Synergy, by definition, is “Combining two or more elements in order to obtain a more desirable result than any individual element could produce on its own.” Synergy is simply a way of stating something is different.

There has always been peanut butter, and there has always been jelly; putting them together is an example of synergy. In reality, synergy is usually a fancy way of covering up for the fact that if peanut butter and jelly sit in a paper bag for too long, the bread will become soggy and the peanut oil will rise to the top.

7. Social Networking

Thank Aaron Sorkin for this one; “Social Networking” has become the copyright-infringement-free way of saying “Facebooking.”

Much as facial tissues are to Kleenex, or inline skates are to Rollerblades, so is social networking to Facebooking (or Twittering, or the act of spending time on any other website instead of working). While we do not expect these sites to disappear anytime soon, we surely hope that their aliases will.


Buzzwords are a double-edged sword, as part of the reason we hate them is because of how much we once loved them. A buzzword is usually a clever way of expressing an idea, which, once expressed, immediately loses shine with each additional use.

While there is no way of preventing new buzzwords from popping up, it is up to us to retire the old ones. And, we think that is perfectly Fazmazzle.

Post images by: by aussiegall and Plutor

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Marcus Interactive

    Interesting post. “Social Network” and “Optimization” are “cringe-inducing”. So, how would you describe a company’s efforts to market themselves across multiple website platforms that cater to social interaction? If it’s just Facebook or Twitter, say the name, but if you’re company is tageting several, using the term “SOCIAL NETWORK” is entirely appropriate. As for Optimization, yes, there are companies that promise to “make your thing better at being a thing. We’re not sure how, but probably through optimizing it.” Of course, there are always crooks in any line of business. My company does OPTIMIZATION and I lay out exactly what is to me done and why it is needed, educating my clients in addition to increasing their profits. What I hate are sweeping statements ignorant of nuances in use and context. May I recommend you optimize your social networking circle to include a broader range of thinking to reduce this type of narrow thinking.

    • Fantastic Dan

      Is your comment user generated content? Is this? I rather suspect it is!

      • Phill


      • Phill


    • Phill

      I disagree. Read my post below to @ThomasPetty.

  • Thomas Petty

    While I agree “green” is hugely overused and overhyped, I’m not sure how it’s a social media buzzword. Usually it’s marketing blather to puff up a company’s image.

    I also agree “social media optimization” is total nonsense.

    It sure looks like your blog has been “monetized” with all the ads sprinkled around. I tried to figure out the significance of the image in the middle of #4, “Authenticity” before I realized it’s just a stupid ad that no one will click on.

    Oh wait, this is user generated content, so it’s crap that no one will read. Too bad I don’t have a basement.

    • Phill

      I disagree with most of this post. OK, words like synergy are pretty useless. But terms like Social Networking are industry standard.

      Social Media Optimisation is not nonsense at all – It just depends what light you see it in. I see It as the process of improving the connection of a website to Social Networking sites like Facebook or Twitter or X.

      A few years back this was as simple as adding “ADDThis” to your website. Now with the OpenGraph is far more complicated & companies frequently get it wrong.

  • Jesse Friedman

    I use #1 and #2 way too much great post

  • Randy Addison

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Facebooking, I think, has already been added in the English dictionary and is considered as a verb already. that is how the internet changes the way we view things.

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    There is no doubt that the internet has forever changed the world in which we live. So it can only be expected that it would change the way we sell and marketing our businesses globally. To achieve this social media is the effective way and great post you have shared with us.

  • Julia Spotlight

    What are the In Words then please Ann?

  • Robert

    Usually think your posts are great but don’t agree with a lot of this. “Combining two or more elements in order to obtain a more desirable result than any individual element could produce on its own.” Synergy is simply a way of stating something is different. I do not think many people associate the word synergy with different.


    It does seem a bit cliche, and cringe-worthy, but these words are essential

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