It’s an annual rite of linguistic passage: Slang words are added to a dictionary, spurring a weeklong spate of articles decrying or applauding the legitimization of silly words. This year, Dictionary.com got the usual blast of attention for adding words such as "nerf," TBH," "EGOT," and "facepalm."
But this time, the online reference upped the engagement ante by enlisting YouTube influencers to help announce the new additions. Dictionary.com, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, worked together with digital content studio Collab to let popular social media personalities express their thoughts on some of the newer words added to the site in a week’s worth of videos featured on its homepage.
"We’d like to do more video development, like for the word of the day, or a new category for the word of the day that users can subscribe to based on their interest, and we’d like video to be a component of that," said Kris Carpenter, vice president of content at Dictionary.com.
The collaboration started in September, when Collab brought in storyboard ideas for how they saw the YouTube segments come to life, said Ashlie Daubert, Collab creative development coordinator. Collab brought online celebrity clients Meghan McCarthy, Matt King and Rickey Thompson, among others to film segments discussing the new words over the course of two days.
Daubert said Dictionary.com’s "take was that they wanted something that celebrated language, and that resonated with Dictionary.com’s audience right now." The primary user base, she said, was graduate students and those in their late 20s and early 30s.
Dictionary.com’s Facebook saw a spike in engagement with the videos, which are hosted both on YouTube and the site’s Facebook page. When the first video, focusing on "Yaas," released last week, it got a 24% engagement rate, compared to the 7% to 8% rate they generate for regular Facebook posts, Carpenter said. The YouTube personalities have been helping promote their videos across their social media platforms since the videos launched on Thursday.
Prior to the video launch, the site promoted words and their definitions through slideshows.
"I think a lot of brands don’t necessarily know how influencer market can get product service information out," Eric Jacks, chief strategy officer at Collab, said. "This is a good case study on how a brand like Dictionary.com would take a very creative approach."