Case Study: Our Life in Words: Updating the Dictionary

Client: Dictionary.com

MSNBC’s Now With Alex Wagner: Dictionary.com adds ‘basic,’ ‘slacktivism’ to word entries

MentalFloss: Dictionary.com Explains How a Word Becomes “A Word”

US News & World Report: Dictionary.com Adds ‘Revenge Porn,’ ‘Brogrammer’ To Its Lexicon

Los Angeles Times: New entries added to Dictionary.com: ‘dox,’ ‘gender-fluid,’ ‘lifehack’

Our Life in Words: Dictionary’s Latest Additions Dominate Headlines

Duration: April 29 – May 12, 2015

Objectives:

Dictionary.com (an IAC company) is the world’s first and largest digital dictionary. The brand is a leading online and mobile resource for everything word related, with more than 70 million monthly users worldwide, and over 100 million app downloads.

Dotted Line Communications (DLC) was engaged as Dictionary.com’s agency of record in the spring of 2015. Up until that point, Dictionary was making biannual updates of new words or definitions that had entered the cultural lexicon but, unlike its competitors, had not publicized the additions and was looking to shift its approach. DLC outlined a strategy to not only drive awareness of the brand and its word additions through mainstream and social media, but that was timed in such a way to drive a second wave of stories by crowding competitive coverage a few weeks after the initial announcement.

Knowing that widespread interest in the newly added words would be dependent on their cultural relevance, DLC worked closely with Dictionary to handpick words for the campaign from the larger batch of more than a thousand terms being added to the site. Words were chosen based on timely news events or themes at the intersection of technology, pop culture and language evolution. For example, “gender fluid” and “bigender” aligned with the national conversation around Caitlyn Jenner’s transition, as well as transgender characters on shows including Transparent and Orange is the New Black.

In addition to media relations strategy, DLC worked closely with Dictionary.com’s marketing and social media teams on message amplification so as to maximize engagement with existing and new audiences for the brand across all channels.


Results:

The Dictionary.com new words announcement was officially released on May 6, 2015, amidst massive national media coverage totaling more than:

  • 1 billion impressions
  • 30 original online stories (with hundreds of repostings)
  • 56 broadcast stories
  • Over 760 total stories focused on Dictionary.com

Over half of all original stories called Dictionary.com a leading online word resource and more than 90 percent featured insights and trends gleaned from Dictionary.com experts on the new words and the process for how they are selected. As the first major campaign DLC conducted on Dictionary’s behalf, the effort served as an opportunity to establish or further relationships with a wide spectrum of both business and consumer media who now look to the brand as an authority on the English language.

Dictionary.com was also able to harness an entirely new audience throughout this campaign, generating over 5K searches for its newly added terms. The campaign drove over 3.7K unique social mentions across Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The New Words posts lifted social engagement 75% and increased Dictionary.com’s social followers by 45%.

In addition, media coverage translated to social engagement with high profile influencers such as Comedy Central’s Chris Hardwick, who said “Webster’s Dictionary defines Dictionary.com as the thing that’s going to put Webster’s out of business,” and tweeted about the brand to more than 2.5M followers.

Coverage highlights include:

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