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An introduction to content pillars

This article introduces learners to the key considerations when choosing which topics to post about on social media.

As the owner of a brand active on social media, you are essentially a media publisher, much like a newspaper or a television channel.

Just as those organisations have editorial remits which dictate what topics and themes they will publish on, your social media output needs a similar guide at the heart of its content plan.

The overall purpose of creating content pillars

1) A well-researched set of content pillars ensures you’re serving your audience with the content they genuinely want and will value.

2) Over time, by reinforcing these themes consistently, you communicate in a clear and sustained manner what your company stands for and who it is serving.

3) Having an agreed content remit makes conceiving and planning individual pieces of content each week easier. It solves the ‘blank sheet of paper’ problem for social media managers and creatives, offering a variety of starting points for ideas and ways to engage the audience.

4) By serving your audience’s informational needs in this organised and systematic way, you indicate to search engines and social algorithms which core topics you are a respected authority on. As a result, you will be more likely to appear at the top of search engines when users are seeking relevant information on these products.

Planning your strategy

When planning your digital and social media content it’s helpful to plan in terms of ‘pillars’ and ‘topics’. First, work out the top-level themes you will build authority on.

This is your ‘pillar’. Next, split this into several topic clusters that help support your top-level theme. This is your ‘topic’. You can then split these further into sub-topics.

A diagram showing how pillars become content

Let’s say you work for a golf equipment brand. One of your content pillars would be the top-level theme of ‘golf skills’ and this would comprise a topic cluster which might include subjects such as ‘golf swing’, ‘speed control’, ‘bunker play’ etc.

In turn, each of these is supported by content which explores every angle of that topic.

An example of a content plan with reference to content pillars.

While some sub-topics are similar, the content is different to suit each corresponding audience.

As you can see, each of these pillars has two corresponding personas. This isn’t always the case, you may have only one persona in a pillar, or you may have them all. However, if you find you have all your personas in every pillar, this may be a sign that your topics aren’t specific enough.

There is no perfect number of content pillars, however, we’d recommend between three and six. This should keep your content proposition clear and focused.

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How to Develop Your Social Media Content Strategy

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