Should brands ditch the slang?
With competition fierce to gain attention on social media and other communications channels, brands are ramping up the irreverence. But, according to a study from Sprout Social, consumers aren’t impressed when brands use slang in their messaging. Sixty-nine percent of respondents found brands using slang to be “annoying” versus 31 percent finding it “cool.”
The only other traits drawing a more negative response in the survey was talking politics, with 71 percent finding it annoying, and making fun of customers, at 88 percent. Only slightly better was making fun of competitors, coming in at 67 percent.
One caveat from the study is that Millennials were relatively more forgiving of brands who use slang than their older counterparts: 59 percent found slang “annoying” versus 41 percent finding it “cool.” Among Gen-X and Boomers, the same ratio was 74 percent versus 26 percent.
Indeed, such jargon has been employed to reach younger sub-segments and its use has helped recent campaigns from McDonald’s, IHOP, Hefty and others go viral via social media.
“Slang helps consumers relate to brands on a more personal level by giving the brand’s message a more conversational tone,” wrote Melissa Duko, editor for eZanga.com, on business2community.com.
Some see social media constantly refreshing and taking slang to a new level. Wrote McSweeney’s columnist and etymologist, Mark Peters, in a column last year in The Boston Globe, “Slang tied to social groups but untethered by convention is language at its most raw and real.”
On the downside, it’s all too common to see brands overuse text acronyms (LOL), GIFs or emojis in hopes of catching a viral wave. Tailoring to an audience also carries high risks as phrases continually move in and out of fashion.
“Brands have been doing this since long before Twitter, so I don’t think the trend is going to disappear any time soon,” Alexis Toney, director of paid media strategy at Laundry Service, told Digiday. “Marketers need to be a little more discerning about when and where they use these tactics.”
- Consumers Aren’t Looking to Buy From Brands That Are “Cool” on Social – Sprout Social
- Brands’ Use of Slang on Social Media is Annoying, Consumers Say – MarketingCharts
- #SquadGoals: Brand snark and slang on social media doesn’t work – Digiday
- How to Use Slang to Boost Your Brand – business2community
- Slang — language at our most human – The Boston Globe
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you a fan of retailers and brands using slang as part of their marketing efforts? What advice would you have around the use of slang in communications or marketing?