As a social media marketer, there's a lot to do.
Between content ideation, creation and execution, you're likely to be a very busy bee - especially if you're a one-person team working for a small brand or business.
So, when time is short and your social media content ideas are running low, how can you create consistency and give structure to your existing strategy?
Two words: content pillars.
In this quick guide, we'll explore how and why content pillars can help you focus and organise your social media strategy. With our advice, you'll feel confident enough to start creating your own content pillars in no time.
What are content pillars?
In the context of social media marketing, content pillars are a set of themes or topics that your brand can use to create posts.
These themes, sometimes called 'buckets', are specific to your brand, and should reflect the content that is most popular with your online audience.
The content pillars that you choose should encompass and be consistent with your brand’s purpose, values, tone of voice, positioning and general aesthetic look and feel on social media.
Example content pillars could include:
Self-care and wellbeing advice:
Company updates (new collections or product releases):
Relatable industry humour:
Different types of content pillars will work for some brands and won't work for others. For example, self-care and wellbeing advice might be better suited to a beauty, fashion or lifestyle brand. Whereas, a brick and mortar real estate agent might rely more heavily on overt customer testimonials to attract prospects on social media.
The important thing to remember, is that each pillar should represent a type of relevant content that your followers want to see.
Why are content pillars useful for social media marketers?
Having social media goals is one thing, but when you're in the weeds of creating content for social media, it can be easy to forget why you're actually doing it.
Having specific themes or buckets that each post or piece of content should fall into, makes it much easier to create meaningful content, instead of just playing guessing games and creating purposeless posts as a result.
Content pillars also help bring a sense of organisation to your brand's social media content approach. Planning your social media content calendar becomes much simpler when you already have a set of specific content themes to riff off and research.
As if content pillars weren't brilliant enough, they also help to speed up the content ideation process, since your ideas are already focussed around specific themes and topics.
Finally, content pillars can help your brand achieve that all-important tone of consistency on your social media channels. This helps to give your brand a strong identity on social media, since you're creating content that recognisably belongs to you.
Your followers will quickly learn what to expect from browsing your brand's themed, serialised content, and can follow along on the journey as you continue fitting the pieces together and creating a brand story just for them.
How to come up with content pillars for your brand
As we've already mentioned, the content pillars that your brand or business decide on will vary depending on the industry you or your clients are in.
However, there are some concrete ways to start thinking about your approach:
1. Take a look at your brand's marketing personas
Knowing exactly who you're speaking to is essential for success in social media marketing. That's why it's so important to have a set of well-established marketing personas at your brand's disposal - they act as your north star for generating conversions!
To create effective content pillars for your brand's social media strategy, you have to ask yourself some key questions:
Which platforms are my target audience using?
What topics are my target audience interested in?
What values does my target audience hold?
Which topics are educational and valuable to my target audience?
How can my brand's social media content help my target audience's pain points?
The answers to these questions will help you to identify the kinds of content that your target audience want to see and you'll be able to create content pillars from here.
Pro Tip >>>Don't worry if your business hasn't created any social media marketing personas yet, you're able to create new personas using Hubspot's “Make My Persona” generator.
2. Carry out competitor research
In order to truly understand your brand's market, you have to be aware of what your direct competitors are doing.
Make a list of the top five competitors in your space, and head to their social media channels to check out what you're competing against. Make note of any competitor posts that have performed particularly well, and spot what sort of topics they're posting about. Identify any gaps in their posting schedule and formulate your content pillars around them.
As important as carrying out competitor research is, it's important not to lose sight of your overall goals when doing so. Remember not to get too bogged down in comparison - you're only visiting their channels for ideas, rather than to plagiarise or copy. Social media content that's creative and original will always speak for itself!
3. Audit your brand's social media channels to see what content works and what doesn't
Carrying out a social media audit is ideal for spotting trends and taking the pulse of your followers' content habits.
It's important to regularly look inwards at your own channels to identify the types of content that your followers are engaging with, and what's not working.
Once you've done your audit, you can start to phase out any continually unsuccessful types of content and posts, and adjust your brand's content pillars accordingly.
Pro Tip >>> Here's a handy Instagram Audit Checklist template - you can adjust and replicate it across your brand's channels if needed.
How Sendible uses content pillars
Here at Sendible, we've based our content pillars around our brand values. 👇
These CARE values guide our social media strategy and inform the types of content that we post.
Above all, we use our social media channels as a place to be helpful and provide value, therefore, each content pillar that we use relates to this ethos.
Some examples of Sendible's social media content pillars include:
- Social media marketing tips
- Promotion for our 2021 Social Media Holiday Calendar
- Celebratory team content
The addition of content pillars to your brand's social media strategy could really level up your content efforts.
Be strategic in your approach, by carrying out competitor research, auditing your brand's social media channels and, most importantly, using your brand's marketing personas to guide every piece of content you create for social media.
We can't wait to see what you come up with!
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