Your brand probably used content marketing to generate awareness and engagement, but you tried tangential Content?

In this brand new installment of Whiteboard Friday, Fractl's Amanda Milligan is here to show you what tangent content is, why it's useful, and how it's created.

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Video transcription

Hello. My name is Amanda Milligan. I'm the Marketing Director at Fractl, an agency that helps brands build their organic growth. Today I'm going to talk to you about one of the strategies we use for our clients, called tangent content. If you haven't heard about it, don't worry.

Chances are you've already done it and you don't even know it. Today we're going to talk about what it is, why you should include it in your strategy, and how to come up with tangential content ideas.

What is tangent content?

So what is tangential content first? Not a ton of use is made of that phrase, but we and a few others, I think, kind of adopted it because there wasn't much language.

The word "tangential" means slightly touching or peripheral. So not really that related is basically what the word means. Tangential content is then content that is not directly related to your product or service offering. In other words, it's not very much about the brand. Perhaps the opposite of tangent content is very current content.

At Fractl, we create both up-to-date and tangential content, but each serves different purposes. I'll go into that. But to give you an example of the difference between the two, here below I have two different articles that you can make for a dating website. So an updated article for a dating website could be here. Seven red flags with profile should be noted.

The reason that is current is that it is actually a dating site or app. This article is also directly about things to look out for on a dating profile. So it's really relevant to the actual offering you are making as a brand, and it even helps users. So it is aimed at your direct audience and then also some people who may be using other apps.

Tangential content in this category might look like this: "Couples voted these seven places the most romantic cities in America". So now we're not talking about dating apps or dating websites anymore. We talk about partners and relationships. It's still relevant to the big scheme of this niche, but it's not directly related to the product or service.

This is just one example of how current and tangential things can look different. Another example that I like to use is for They are a home improvement website. We made all kinds of content for her that fall into both areas. For current content, we have taken over the costs of DIY work over the entire life cycle of a house and created tangential content such as cooking with your family or playing in the garden or the like.

That's why I'm going to explain in more detail how you come up with such ideas. But you see this all the time in marketing, even if you haven't realized it or don't know what to call it. We recently conducted a study looking at the finalists for the Content Marketing Awards. We excluded agencies, but we looked at a number of brands and found that at least 6 out of 10 of the brands we studied had tangent content on their blogs.

So it's a pretty common practice, and whether people even realize it or not, it can be really effective.

Why create tangent content?

So why bother with content that isn't entirely brand based? A lot of people would hesitate and say, "I want to do things that only make sense to our primary audience, that convert users, or that build a really relevant audience."

Link building

But there are some incredible benefits to tangential content. First of all, SEO folks love the link building aspect. So if you're interested in getting some of the best links you've ever received, really high quality links from some of the best media publications, we haven't found a better way than using tangent content. Why?

Because if you're doing something that isn't directly related to your brand, you can reach a more general audience and use compelling ideas that will appeal to more people, and therefore more publications. This increases your chances of media coverage.

Brand awareness

The second is brand awareness. If you are able to get this content out and target more people, it means more people will see your brand for similar reasons.

What we do at Fractl are essentially such ideas. We create an entire content project around a new data set or conduct a survey or collect new information based on this tangential idea and then make it available to the media. So if you have this new study or report done by your brand and cover it in some of the top national media sources, that's pretty incredible brand awareness, not to mention authority because having your brand mentioned as such and such – So study shows this, you are framed in a really authoritative way, usually at the beginning of the article as the source of the information about which this publication is deemed worth mentioning.

It's pretty amazing. So that's what I'm talking about here – national media coverage. If you are creating tangent content on your blog and trying to get more organic traffic and more exposure in the SERPs, this is a really great way to grow the top of your funnel marketing efforts.

So if you zoom out and think about how I can reach out to people in this industry who may not have decided they want to buy our product or service but still get our name out, you can achieve more tangential goals for the funnel keywords and start ranking in the SERPs to get more exposure. So these are really incredible benefits.

Social shares

Finally, social shares, because like I said, when you come up with tangential ideas like I said, you have a lot more space to play around and be creative, which generally means you can come up with ideas that are much more compelling and much more emotionally more resonant, and these are the kinds of ideas that all kinds of social share get. People want to send it to their friends. You want to respond to social etc.

So really some great things here. Whether you're looking at it from a branding perspective or an SEO perspective, you can get a lot out of this type of content.

How to create tangent content

So finally how? The first thing I tell people is to zoom out. If you've typically only created fresh content in the past, you're probably not used to thinking about your larger industry outside of your value proposition.

1. Zoom out

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So I encourage people to literally just think, "What's our bigger category?" So if you work as auto insurance, then even for cars or transportation. It's like, "What would be the top category in a publication that fits your brand?" In this example I have installed time management software.

So if you are a SaaS company and time management software, your general topic might be work and productivity. So that would be the general zoom out. Once you've zoomed out, you'll want to think sideways. That's how we describe it.

By that I mean, what are all the subtopics that fall under the collapsed category? What are all the other things we can talk about that aren't directly related to our brand? For work / productivity, I wrote down some examples of what that could be. Sorry, not work / productivity, but work and productivity. It could be either. So only the workplace, that's the essential.

So maybe it's about your salary, your salary aspirations, salaries that are fair to different companies within companies. Anything related to salary may be published in financial publications in addition to workplace publications or business publications. Office gossip, this is something that a lot of people can relate to, and you can get publications that are more on the lifestyle side of things.

This is an example of how to become very generally responsive. Anyone who has worked in an office, even if they haven't participated in any paper gossip themselves, likely knows it happened, or that it caused problems, or what you have. So you can go this route. Work-life balance. We take this up in the time of COVID. That is even more true now. You can get a really actual factor for it.

However, when you talk about productivity, work-life balance often becomes a question. How can you be more productive without sacrificing your personal life? Dating staff. Again, you take an entirely different one … you combine the work niche and the relationship dating lifestyle niche. This could be something even the dating site could do.

You can talk to fellow dating. It's a tangential idea that actually applies to multiple industries. I finally have job satisfaction up here. So it depends more on the working side. How good are you feeling about your job? Are you looking for another one? I just get a sense of how people are feeling. All of these things qualify as tangential content ideas for a time management software company.

So I wanted to illustrate that because it shows how many things are now within your reach that you may not have realized before. If you can play around with these many kinds of ideas, you can get very creative with the methods and things you explore. It's going to be pretty fun, I have to be honest.

2. Look at emotions

So down here, and frankly, this section deserves its own whiteboard after you've done this and put down maybe 70 ideas based on it, oh wow, we can zoom out and think about all sorts of things, a lot comes to mind, think about emotions after. Most things that work well affect you emotionally.

Even if it's instructions, you might think that this is usually pretty easy and dry. When you help someone and they care and it reads, "Oh thank god I was looking for an answer to this," it's an emotional response. So you need to think about how emotionally resonant these ideas are.

Part of how we rate or prioritize our ideas, or measure their likelihood of success, is to think about the emotional components. You can see how these feed into these ideas. Salary aspirations, people tie much of their value to their salaries at work. It's a pretty emotional thing. Dating and gossip at work, obviously these social dynamic can get pretty intense.

Work-life balance, talk about your family and your relationships with people again. Job satisfaction, similar to salary claims that can really affect your life. Then I recommend that people, when they have ideas, literally write down all of those emotions and see what will be part of the essence of the actual idea.

Then, when you can say, "Okay, this idea is going to get really emotional resonance with people. You will see yourself in it. You will be really interested in the results. Then you can start. What are the different methods that we can use?" What kind of data are available or that we have internal or that we can find or collect to illustrate this, to get to some of these truths that we don't have access to right now?

So this is a good place to start if you have any questions. For example, if you have office gossip and say, "I wonder how many people feel they have attended? I wonder how many people actually had an impact on work or suffered themselves." I do not know the answer. So if you want to do a survey on this, it might be really interesting for people.

So downsize. Think of all of the different types of subtopics to talk about now that you've zoomed out. Then look at the emotional factors of all of these ideas and start sorting by them. See where you can collect data to fulfill these types of ideas. Once you're into this kind of thing, most of the time your intuition will tell you.

If you find it interesting, if you want to know the answer, definitely give it a try. Then you can throw it on publications. So this is the short version of how we do all of this. I am happy to answer your questions. You can find me on Twitter @millanda. But that's the core of the tangential content.

It's extremely effective. Try it. Whether it's your blog or you choose to get it published in media publications and use these links, I highly recommend it. Thank you for watching.

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