The information and tips in this article come from one of Likeable’s Smarter Social™ modules. Learn more about Smarter Social™, our solution for in-house digital teams, here.
If you’re reading this, you probably know that quality, social-first content is crucial to success on social media. And, to be honest, crafting a piece of good social content is pretty easy.
What’s not so easy is crafting good content at scale, week after week after week, without spending a fortune in time and resources. And what’s even harder is making sure that every post you create builds towards a business objective.
That’s where content pillars come in. The most basic definition of content pillars is that they are, as you may have surmised, topics or themes that you create content around. Maybe it’s “recipes” if you’re a food brand, maybe it’s “skin care tips” if you’re in the beauty space, or maybe it’s “culture” if you’re a company looking to recruit new hires.
So, now that you know what they are, what are the benefits of content pillars?
- Organization: They make sure you create content in a methodical, strategic way that covers the necessary topics for your brand.
- Targeting: Through the process of crafting a pillar, you have already considered everything you know about your target audience. Therefore, pillars serve as an easy guide for creating content that you know will resonate.
- Ideation: Coming up with fresh ideas every week isn’t easy. Content pillars hone in on relevant topics for you and force a disciplined approach that helps you to dig deeper rather than explore shiny but empty new objects.
Aggregated together, content pillars should encompass all the core messages you want to get across on social, and already have the strategy baked in. Effective pillars should be an intersection of the topics your target audience cares about and what you want to focus on as a brand. They should also be asset agnostic, meaning they encompass all post types, and channel agnostic, meaning they can work on all social channels.
Alright, now to the really good stuff. Here are the steps to creating content pillars for your brand that will engage, convert, and put you miles ahead of your competitors. Each also has an example from a made-up baked goods brand called Confectionery.
Step 1: Define Audiences
Before you can craft your pillars, you need to define your customer personas and profiles on social. That means looking at your target audience’s gender, age group, ethnic breakdown, geographical distribution, education level, and socioeconomic status. Then, based on that, you’ll dive into their interests and habits as related to your brands and products.
Step 2: Prioritize Brand Needs
What about your product or brand do you really want to hammer home? What are key elements to differentiate yourself from competitors? What are your core brand values? What parts of your history do you have to overcome? What brand equity are you trying to build?
Step 3: Research Content Trends
Now that we know who the customer is, we should dive into what specifically interests them on social media. Look at the conversation topics they’re involved in online, and make note of other accounts or influencers they’re following. What are existing social behaviors or trends you can latch onto? Also look into the data the platforms provide to see what other brands your current fans/followers like.
Step 4: Research Competitors
What are your competitors currently doing on social? Based on public engagement numbers, you can tell what is resonating and what isn’t. The new ads transparency efforts mean that marketers can also actually check out how competitors are running ads on Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This can provide a good sense of their content strategy, and give you ideas for how to follow or counter.
Step 5: Create Pillars
Once you’ve done all the legwork, it’s time to craft the content pillars. It’s important to keep content pillars relatively broad. They should act like the trunk of a tree with the potential for many branches of conversation, question, and analysis. In general, brands should have 3-5 content pillars, depending on the size and variety of their target audience as well as the key messages that they want to convey in their marketing.
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