Content pillars are just what they sound like—”pillars” (or topics with corresponding lists) that your business can use to create posts, stories, graphics, and copy for social media. FYI these are different from “brand pillars” which represent the personality and values of your overall business (…So, while brand pillars influence content pillars, they are not the same thing). Brainstorming content pillars (also referred to as “buckets”) can help streamline your social media marketing efforts and ensure you’re engaging with your audience on multiple levels.
But how do content pillars work? With content pillars everything from brainstorming your content from big goal down to individual post remains relevant and in alignment with your brand’s greater objectives. Without this strategy, you’re just posting content—a picture or reel here, a last-minute story there—day after day without looking at the bigger picture of how posts relate to and build upon each other to support your marketing goals. You’re not just “posting for the sake of posting.” That wastes time, energy, and resources. Content pillars give your posts purpose.
Benefits of incorporating content pillars in your social media strategy:
Increases engagement because the content is relevant and meaningful to your followers.
Saves time and energy because you’re not scrambling to post to your socials in the middle of your busy workday.
Boosts creativity because it inspires big thinking, problem solving, and collaboration without an impending deadline.
Builds trust with your audience because you create high quality, value-rich content.
Your content pillars can focus on a theme, goal, or purpose.
Suggested layout for 5 content pillars:
Promotional - Showcase your offerings and remind your audience to purchase your products and services.
Educational - Focus on acquiring new customers and maintaining your loyal customers by highlighting product/service features.
Community - Highlight your employees, customers, and partnerships.
Entertainment - Share your brand story or customer journey.
Engagement - Encourage conversation to make your audience feel like they’re part of the brand.
Later describes content pillars as “upside down triangles”—broad concepts that become narrower and more niche as you work your way down. This means your 3-6 content pillars can have subtopics (and maybe even sub-subtopics) categorizing your content kind of like the diagram of a family tree. Here is a list of examples of subtopics/categories:
User-generated content (UGC)
How Content Pillars Work With Your Social Media
Now that you’ve got the gist of what and why content pillars are important, let’s break down how it factors into your social media strategy:
Define your content pillars (We recommend starting with broad 3-6 pillars based on a theme, purpose, or goal)
Determine your brand’s objective
What do you hope to achieve?
What steps are required to get to each end goal?
Narrow your target audience
What are their demographics and psychographics?
What platforms do they frequent and why?
What types of content resonates with them?
What are their pain points?
Check out your analytics
What kind of content performs well?
What do people want to see and engage with?
How does content performance differ on each social media platform?
Incorporate subtopics or sub-categories beneath each content pillar
What types of content make sense here?
Does everything we want to post fit in under one of these categories?
Check your SEO to see what your audience is searching for
Review what kind of content has worked for you in the past
Focus on upcoming product launches, events, holiday sales, etc.
Scope out your competition
Follow trending social media templates
Design a calendar
Continue to evolve
Periodically review your social media analytics
Again, what’s working and what isn’t?
How can this data help you optimize your content strategy?
Work on your calendar every month and reevaluate your content pillars biannually
The work is never done!
And lastly, here are some helpful hints as you start planning out your content pillars:
Because your audience may vary depending on social media platforms and the type of preferred content differs by platform, you may want to tailor your content pillars accordingly. For example, UGC and BTS content works great on TikTok and Instagram but doesn't make sense for Twitter. Conversely, product news and event announcements work great in short, succinct tweets.
If an idea or post isn’t “fitting in” under one of your content pillars, you’ve got 2 options: 1) Recognize that the idea isn’t helpful to your current social media strategy, or 2) Opt to add another content pillar if it makes sense and there’s more than one singular post under its heading.
Don’t think of your content pillars as “set in stone.” Especially if you’re a nascent brand (or a business undergoing a re-brand), it makes sense that your plan-of-action will shift around until you find your groove. You may try something that doesn’t resonate with your audience and want to pivot. That’s not a failure—it’s part of the process of figuring out what works best for YOUR brand.
Looking for more guidance in setting up your content pillars and social media strategy? Book a discovery call with Media À La Carte. We can get your plan up-and-running, share inspo with you via our Content Calendar Club, or work with you to manage your social strategy while you run the ‘biz. We’re here for you!