Content pillars act as a foundation for your entire digital strategy, helping you to stay focused and consistent with your content across all channels. Successful content pillars are based on an understanding of your target audience and built from there – ensuring your content is delivering meaningful value to your audience and then, in turn, your brand.
Like physical pillars, content pillars are used to support the overall objectives of your brand’s marketing strategy.
Essentially, content pillars are the overarching themes that each of your content pieces should sit within. For example, ‘Audience Education’ may be one of your pillars and include pieces like, ‘how to change a tire’ or ‘how frequently you should check your engine oil and how to do it’.
Sometimes we need to include sub-pillars to ensure content aligns with various segments of our audience. If we were a modelling agency, our ‘Audience Education’ pillar may include ‘Child Modeling’ and ‘High Fashion Modeling’ as two of our sub-pillars.
Understanding your target audience is arguably the most essential stage of this process. In particular, it’s important to understand what their values, pain points, and desires are, and which channel/s they’ll be using at each stage of their customer lifecycle. Knowing this information will help you gauge what type of content needs to be on each platform. Your pillars should remain the same across your digital presence, but you may need to adjust the ratio of content you post under each pillar depending on the channel and what information your audience needs/wants at that particular moment.
Consider what themes and topics most closely relate to your target audience and industry. The content itself will vary widely from a lawyer’s office to an e-commerce store selling women’s clothing, however, the overarching goals behind your pillars may actually be fairly similar. It’s essential to think about the shared values you have with your audience and what you want to achieve from your digital presence.
We’ve been working with our sister agency, Chase Studio, to develop their content pillars based on what they value as a brand and where they know they can provide truly worthwhile insights to their audience. We came up with: Share Knowledge, Tell Stories, and Champion Chase. A mix of providing insights, storytelling, and selling their brand.
We recommend focusing on three to five key pillars as anything more can have your content spread too thin or risk unnecessary overlaps. Start by listing out what your values are and what messages you want to get across to your audience. There should be some links between them that you can then use to help create groups.
During this stage, it’s helpful to bring in a few people from your team (or wider support network) to broaden your creativity. It can be easier to come up with new ideas when you’re able to bounce them off other people.
Within each pillar, it’s best practice to create one or two hero content pieces which are then supported by many smaller pieces. This can help with the ideation process and is a good search engine optimisation strategy for your website content.
Based on your brainstorming from the previous stage, come up with one hero piece for each pillar to begin with (you can add more later on). From here you can use Google’s predictive search feature to get ideas for individual topics that could come from your hero piece.
This may be something like:
Once you’ve come up with these rough ideas, you can begin building out a content calendar and decide which ratio of content should fall under each of your chosen pillars. For your brand, the best pillar ratio may be an even split or it may resemble a 60/20/20 split. This split ratio can change depending on which channel the content is going on and if there are any upcoming events coming up within your business that are relevant to certain pillars.
Your content calendar should be a central document that your team can reference regarding any upcoming content. It’s also a good visual to show an overview of how you will break up pieces within your pillars. By colour coding each pillar and putting content ideas in relevant calendar days, it gives you the opportunity to make sure you aren’t talking too much about one topic and ignoring another.
You’ve got your pillars outlined and a content calendar drafted, now it’s time to start creating! To be as efficient as possible, we recommend recycling and repurposing existing content. If you wrote a blog about a certain topic, see if that can translate to an infographic to use across socials. If you have a high performing video, repurpose that content into a blog post. Sometimes coming up with new topics can be difficult, but if you’ve got a high performing piece of content on one platform, you can always repurpose it for another.
Creating content pillars is just one way of making sure the content you create for your business is well-balanced and tailored to your goals. If you need any support with your strategy or the content creation process, please reach out to our team via the contact form below. We’re always here to help!