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Content Pillars – The Key to Great Marketing Material

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John Griffiths

Senior Digital Content Specialist

All great marketing content is tied to a purpose.

We’ve all struggled with ideation. Creativity isn’t an infinite resource and, sometimes, we need a helping hand. With this in mind, what measures can be put in place to minimise this struggle?  Content pillars are an excellent tool at any marketer’s disposal. No matter how many you start with, content pillars are essential in helping plan content that is targeted, optimised and relevant to your audience.

But where do you get started with content pillars, and why should you bother? Allow us to explain.

What is a Content Pillar?

Content pillars are essentially themes. These themes are used to help you stick to your brand’s values and morals when producing content, while ensuring each piece is relevant to your audience.

Due to their personalised nature, content pillars will fluctuate from business to business. This is ultimately what helps brands stand out in the overcrowded social media space, convincing audiences that your brand is worth their time.

How to Choose Content Pillars of your Own

While content pillars are great in theory, developing them is unfortunately one of the most difficult steps in the process. Deciding on content pillars comes down to more than just personal opinion; the very best pillars are chosen based on audiences, their interests, wants and needs. So, how do you make your own content pillars?

Start Social Listening

By far the best way to get insights around what sort of content your audience will respond to is to get ears on the ground, so to speak. Social listening is an invaluable tool to use when building content pillars, as it gives crucial insight into what it is your audience wants, needs, and enjoys.

Whether you use specialised tools to do it, or simply spend a few hours hanging out in the social communities for your industry, being able to read in black and white what makes your audience tick is essential.

Read More: Social Listening: What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Thematically Analyse Older Content

At Liberty, we’re all about re-using old content as much as possible. Whether you choose to upcycle and resurrect it, or use it to guide your new-fangled content pillars, your past content is a great reference point that you can use to guide what you create in the future.

Maybe there’s a recurring type of content that you’ve always relied on posting, or perhaps a commonality between the way that content is written – whichever the outcome, looking back at the ways your brand has communicated in the past can give you some good ideas on where to go in the future.

Start by gathering a small sample of the content you’ve posted in the past few months. Then, create a spreadsheet including the copy used within the posts. After this, make yourself familiar with the posts by assigning each one (or sections within them) a category.

Look for things like passive wording, hard recommendations, confidence (or lack thereof), and even post types (blog posts, Tweets, TikToks, reels, etc).

After highlighting and categorising phrases or individual words within each post, you’ll then need to make a list of the most common occurrences. These can then be used to determine the pillars (themes) your content has previously been made to fit.

Congratulations! Your first ever content pillars have been created.

Visit Your Analytics

Of course, your content needs to achieve a tangible purpose. While it is great to have content that inspires your audience, you need to have an audience to inspire.

This is where the use of tools like Facebook Business Suite, Twitter’s Analytics Dashboard and Google Analytics come in. Get yourself logged in and see which posts or pages are performing the best. You might discover that your motivational posts bring more website traffic compared to your product-focused posts, or vice versa.

Content Pillar Examples

We appreciate that starting from scratch with content pillars can be a tricky process, but thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of some easily replicated pillars for seemingly any content strategy:

Educate

No matter what kind of brand you are, information and teaching is a strong pillar to hold your content towards. For some, education may be the very core of your business offering, while others may see education is an occasional post-type for when questions are frequently answered.

Content targeted towards this pillar could include how-to guides, infographics, unique insights with first party data, or even the sheer collation of similar data into one conclusive piece.

Inspire

Inspiration is a key motivator behind a lot of social media users. Highlighted by the recent launch of Lemon8, and held as a core function of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, many users spend hours browsing Pinterest boards for interior design inspiration, or scrolling through their Discovery pages for makeup ideas.

Inspiration can come in many forms, but can be conveyed by telling relatable stories about what people in your niche have been able to achieve – and ideally by using your products or services.

Entertain

Let’s remember that social media isn’t just about learning and inspiration. Large portions of internet users turn to social media as an entertainment medium. Some may get trapped in an infinite scroll of death on TikTok, or find themselves watching hours of YouTube documentaries instead of tuning into traditional media.

All of this means that entertainment is a strong choice for your content pillars, depending on the type of brand you are and what your audience would find entertaining.

Promote

It would be foolish of us to disregard the sheer selling power that social media grants brands. Whether it’s accomplished through paid advertising, or carefully interwoven within your organic content strategy, promoting the products and services you sell is almost a given on any branded social media.

Creating posts about a product, adding in specific call-to-actions, and integrating your website to allow in-platform buying are all devised to incentivise purchases and promote your goods.

Engage

Another core component of marketing content revolves around starting a dialogue between your brand and your customers. Professionally referred to as engagement, this dialogue is vital knowledge to brands of any size, as it allows them to gauge customer satisfaction rates, which in turn allows for more optimised marketing activity and product launches, ultimately resulting in more sales and brand exposure.

This pillar can be met by posting with interaction in mind. Think of competitions, giveaways, and user generated content initiatives for example. All of which require there to be some back-and-forth.

Need Help Outlining Your Content Pillars?

It’s clear that acknowledging, setting up, adhering to content pillars is an involved task. Not only must you be aware of any existing outbound communications, your pillars must represent the type of brand you wish to be, all while continuing to capture potential customers.

There’s a lot of work involved, so why not leave it to the professionals? The social media team at Liberty have many years of combined experience navigating the tricky landscape of content pillars, advising brands from all walks of life on how they should talk and what they should post. If you need help setting up content pillars, speak to our professional consultants to see what we can do.

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By

John Griffiths

Senior Digital Content Specialist

For education, John has a Master’s in Strategic Digital Marketing. As for work, he previously worked as a Marketing Assistant for an additive manufacturer for nearly a year, and then I came to Liberty as a content writer. Johns favourite part of his role is reviewing the numbers after a bunch of hard work has…

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