Using slang in marketing content
Slang in marketing: the pros & cons
Being a copywriter doesn’t always mean writing in flawless, formal English, following all the rules you’ve learned at school. On the contrary, modern day copywriters take some liberty with the language and they even sometimes use slang.
But how far can you go? How informal can you be when writing marketing content? Should you really talk to customers as if they were your mates?
When and how should you use slang?
Let’s start by defining what we mean by slang. According to the Cambridge dictionary, it’s “vocabulary that is used between people who belong to the same social group and who know each other well”. Slang is very informal but it doesn’t have to be vulgar or crude. Some words like the ones listed here are common in British people’s vocabulary. You probably use them every day without even realising they’re slang.
So when should you use it in your copy? The answer is simple: it depends who’s your target audience. For example, you’re giving financial advice or selling medical equipment, you might want to avoid using slang in your marketing communications. But if you’re writing social media content for a brand selling funny gadgets or beauty products to young adults, feel free to write like you speak.
Talking to your customers in their own language will make your message resonate with them. It creates a sense of community, of belonging to the same tribe. This might sound like a cheap trick but it’s true and very efficient. Depending on the context, using slang and informal language might also make your brand more friendly and accessible.
The dangers of being too informal
While it can sometimes be a good idea, writing like you talk can also be risky. You don’t want to end up alienating or offending part of your target audience because you’ve been too familiar. This is why it’s important to know your customers and their expectations.
Slang shouldn’t be used in all types of content. While you can use it in your newsletter, on your website and social media content, you should adopt a more formal language in your terms and conditions. There’s a time and place for everything. Some forms of communications require friendly, catchy, informal copy, and some need to be formal enough to sound serious, reliable and professional.
No matter who your target audience is, there’s one more risk when it comes to using slang: it gets outdated very quickly. If you’re writing for teenagers or young adults and trying to use the same vocabulary they use, make sure your copy is spot on or stick to good old plain English to avoid making a fool of yourself.
Writing like you talk goes beyond the use of slang words. It also means bending the rules of grammar and spelling to make your copy catchier. Like puns, intentional grammar mistakes should always be used sparingly. It’s also the case for neologisms and brands’ names used as verbs.
The same rules apply to using local expressions or words from a foreign language, whether they’re real or made up to sound exotic. The idea of using a specific vocabulary that only a specific fraction of the population can understand is very similar to using slang. Once again, make sure you know your audience before you start writing and choose your words wisely.
Finally, we can’t talk about digital marketing content without mentioning emojis. Those tiny images, which aren’t words or punctuation, have invaded the written language of the younger generation – kids and young adults born with a smartphone in their pockets. Using emojis in your content can be a great way to catch your customers’ attention but you have to be careful. Their meanings are constantly evolving and can be different depending on who you’re talking to. For example, the worst mistake would be to use the aubergine emoji to sing the praises of a Greek restaurant’s moussaka.
At Cam’s Writing, we don’t just write in English and in French. We have a strong knowledge of the French and British people’s habits and culture. We’re fluent in both “argot” and slang.
If you’d like to know more about our services or if you need help localising your marketing content, don’t hesitate. Give us a shout.