Words We'd Like to Banish (Plus Other Thoughts About Word Choice) | Social Joey

The last year has been eye-opening, and some might say unprecedented. But honestly, we’d like to get rid of that last word altogether!

There’s no doubt about it—2020 left a lot of impressions. More than ever, most of us were spending time online, and with that increased social media time, we had increased exposure to some of the same words over and over again.

If you’re like us, there are a few words you wish would be retired forever! While some words, such as COVID-19, are being used because they’re proper nouns and there’s no substitute, others could be avoided.

So, let’s take a humorous look at some banishable words!

The Pandemic Words That We’d Like to Toss Out

It probably seemed like you read the same words everywhere you looked in 2020 and early 2021. That’s because…you probably did.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, businesses and other organizations recognized that they needed to share messaging that empathized with what we were all going through. While the premise was excellent—and right on point—its execution led to a lot of word overuse.

Here are a few words we’d like to say goodbye to:

  • Pivot. This innocuous word used fairly frequently to discuss a business or plan evolving to meet changing needs was so overused in 2020! It makes sense since nearly every business across the United States was forced to pivot to stay afloat. But we all get it by now!

  • Unprecedented. Yes, 2020 and the global pandemic were unprecedented, but it’s time we send that word out to sea.

  • In these uncertain times and We’re all in this together. We mentioned this above, but businesses smartly expressed empathy with their customers in marketing messages in 2020. It was a great idea and one that’s still imperative as we move forward. With that said, though, some phrasing expressing empathy has become trite. It’s best to reword!

  • In an abundance of caution. As we navigated the pandemic and protected ourselves and others from COVID-19, caution, and safety measures were important. But you can express the safety measures being used in your business space and practices without using that phrasing.

Some other words we’d like to retire? COVID-19, the coronavirus, pandemic, and social distancing! Those are all necessary words, though, as we continue to move forward. But hopefully, we’ll be able to leave those words to history as more people are vaccinated.

We aren’t the only ones hoping to banish some words—all of these words can be found in the 2021 edition of Lake Superior State University’s “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, and General Uselessness.” If you didn’t know such a thing existed, you aren’t alone! But apparently, they’ve been putting together an annual list since 1976.

Other Words to Weed Out

While we’ve listed above a bunch of words and phrases from the last year we’d like to retire, there are also words in general that are overused.

These are less egregious than the pandemic-related words but are still bad news when it comes to your marketing content. In fact, in most cases, it’s a good idea to weed them out of your writing altogether, even for communications like emails.

  • Just. This is a big one! For the person writing this blog, it’s necessary to self-edit that word out of nearly everything she writes, sometimes multiple times. 😉 But the word really has no meaning—and it can be safely removed in nearly all instances.

  • Literally. While this word is commonly used, it’s unnecessary. If something literally happened, it simply happened—no literally needed.

  • State-of-the-art or innovative. If you’re using these in your marketing materials, we believe you when you say that your services or products are one or the other of these things. But the words themselves are overused—and in some cases, less clear than needed—so there are better ways to say the same thing. Dig into the details more to aptly describe your product.

  • Actually. Like “literally,” actually doesn’t add value to a sentence. It simply means “in fact,” and if you’re saying something, we’d hope it’s factual!

  • Honestly. When you use this word, you’re probably trying to establish credibility. But it can actually have the opposite effect, leading readers to wonder why you’re promoting your honesty.

Word Choice in Marketing

When you’re trying to sell a product or service—or establish your business as an expert—your words matter.

That might seem pretty self-explanatory, but it’s important. While every audience has slightly different needs and wants, the overall attention span diminishes quickly.

That means you need to use your words strategically to get your message across quickly. While that’s true in all types of marketing, it’s especially true in social media marketing, as we well know!

Here are some tips for making the most of your words:

  • Use active phrasing. Anytime you’re able, flip sentences around to make them active rather than passive. The use of active verbs is stronger and more declarative for your audience—and more likely to drive them to action.

  • Think in terms of twos. When you’re writing long-form content, such as blogs, limit most of your paragraphs to two sentences. When you’re writing short-form content, such as social media posts or ads, limit yourself to two short sentences max. Beyond those margins, you’ll quickly lose your audience’s attention.

  • Tighten wording up. Once you’ve drafted your message, review it and remove any nonessential words. That’s pretty much any of the words we’ve outlined above, along with what we like to call “throwaway” words, such as “etc.” or “and more.”

  • Make your CTA short and strong. All of your words should be powerful, but the call to action needs to be clear and active. If your readers don’t come away from your content with a seamless way to take action, they are unlikely to step forward to make a purchase.

Ready to put your marketing goals into action? We’re ready and waiting to help—and honestly, we’ll just literally keep all these unprecedented, innovative words out of your content! Get in touch today to get started.