YOLO and Mean Girls – Understanding "Insider Lingo"

DISCLAIMER: If you haven’t watched Mean Girls then you won’t really get this post. Also I hate YOLO and most references I’m making, but it’s the first thing that came to mind so I’m rolling with it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how every person who gets super nerdy about their hobbies have this sort of “insider lingo” that bonds other hobbyists together.

If you get the lingo and references, then you’re in the club.

There are literally millions of examples in your life.

Anime/Manga lovers(yours truly), gamers(sort of yours truly) are the quintessential examples.

However, if you can quote rap lyrics from Big L or the majority of the script from Mean Girls, you, kind sir or madam, are also a nerd in the traditional sense.

To me, Nerd = you’re obsessively into something.

Say you hate anyone who says YOLO unironically and Mean Girls is your favorite movie(why though). You’re out at a bar and you meet someone new who says “Oh my god, stop trying to make YOLO happen.”

Yes, old I know. Just imagine it’s 2011 for me.

What do you feel?

Besides pure rage at the mentioning of YOLO, you probably feel a few things:

This person is awesome for hating YOLO
This person is doubly awesome for liking Mean Girls
You might feel a bond over this exchange where you have something in common.

You think: “Omg this person is just like me!”

You feel like this person “gets” you or you “get” them, and they haven’t even directly spoken with you about anything.

I notice that when people meet for the first time, you can take the express lane from “stranger” to “OMG BEST FRANNNN” if you watch the same shows or listen to the same music.

That’s the supposed “shortcut” businesses want to do.

They think “Yeah! Let’s do pop culture references so we can be cool too!”

Problem is, they really fuck this up.

In the Mean Girls universe, they’re Amy Poehler.

They’re trying to be “cool.” Which isn’t the point at all.

People can tell when you’re trying too hard.

It’s a fine line and if you fuck it up…well…you can’t sit with us.

(Okay last Mean Girls reference..pinky promise.)

When it comes to marketing your product. It’s imperative that you learn empathy and can “speak” your customer’s language.

Marketers and most business owners are too general in their ads to ever resonate with anyone.

You need to understand what their lingo is and be authentic about it.

None of that “wolf in sheep’s clothing” type of shit.

Don’t use the damn reference just to try and be relevant.

In the NYC subways, a good example I’ve seen(that resonates with me) are Seamless ads.

It’s just enough, but not too much.

Granted, it’s sort of getting old now, but it was totally on point/fleek?(WOO 2015 REFERENCE) when it first started.

However, the snarky, sarcastic voice won’t jive with everyone.

I’m 23 so I sort of get it, but who knows if teens or boomers would get it.

The truth is, pop culture references are just one dimension of insider lingo.

It seems to be treated as the only one that matters, which is always the problem when it comes to using pop culture references. It isn’t exactly the most timeless thing, so the question you need to ask yourself is if you’re willing to use a reference that could die in a few months, leaving you having to continually reinvent your message.

It’s icing on the cake, and you should learn to use them in a timely manner, but it shouldn’t be your only way of communicating with your target customer.

Your “tribe”(as Seth Godin puts it) of potential customers have multiple emotions when it comes to how they feel about certain things. It’s up to you to unlock those complex emotions, from the “Inside Out” (YES RELEVANT 2015 REFERENCE.)

Some other emotions you can utilize are:

There are many ways to resonate with someone, so ask yourself:

What “tribes” are your customers a part of? What magazines, movies and tv shows do they read and watch? What music and podcasts do they listen to?

And the absolute #1 thing that you must do is demonstrate how your product ties in.

How does your product relate to the emotion you’re conveying? How does your product enhance that emotion or alleviate that emotion for them?

So the bottom line is, figure out the emotions your target audience feels and tie that into your product.

drops mic


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