Deconstructing six common digital marketing clichés

by Michael Wilkins

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 is a freelance Online Consultant and a guest blogger on Econsultancy.


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