Building blocks: What are content pillars, and why do they matter?

21 Apr 2017
Kay Tsoi

With the rise of social media, it’s essential to approach content marketing with a digital mindset. And when it comes to content, as storytellers we need to be effective and relevant to our target audience.

Every piece of content needs to be focused on a deliverable, digestible message. Quality always trumps quantity.

Why do content pillars matter?

As a widely visible point of entry for potential customers, a brand’s social media channels need to release content which aligns with the brand’s personality and its projected image, with messages delivered with a consistent tone of voice. These aims are most easily met by establishing content pillars – that is, the core messages you need to get across with any content you produce. Developing a content strategy based on pillars helps with organic growth and engaging your audience through a clear vision of what you want to say and how to best say it.

How to develop successful content pillars

There are four key points to consider when establishing content messaging for any brand:

Any brand needs to set goals when planning their social media content strategy. Targeted content should reinforce the image that the brand wants to project through the messages they’re offering.

For example, when establishing content pillars for a fashion brand, we would want to project a fashion-forward, stylish, healthy, positive and fun brand image with the ultimate goal of driving sales. And the stories we create through our content should all be linked back to the these values.

An audience’s interest in content type varies between segments. In order to create effective content, we must identify exactly who our audience is and understand their interests and needs. Based on the platform you’re using for a social media-led content campaign, you can use an analytics tool (such as Audience Insights for Facebook) to identify your platform’s follower segment.

Understanding audience’s gender, age group, interest, ethnic breakdown, geographical distribution, education level and socioeconomic status all help you to develop the most powerful content pillars for your brand and its messaging, as these statistics give you a better understanding of your followers and their needs.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, look at the conversation topics they’re involved in online, and make note of other accounts or influencers they’re following. From there you can craft stories relevant to that audience by building a mix of content to cover the key messages you’ve already identified.

In the example of the fashion brand, an effective content pillar mix might look like this:

Educational content: “How-to”/mix-and-match/styling tips
Informative content: sharing the latest fashion trends
Inspirational content: beautiful words/positive quotes
Sales-driven content: introduce the brand’s hero products

With your content pillars established, the next step should fall into place quite easily: creating quality content for your audience with an appropriate tone of voice. When creating your content, the research that you’ve done to establish your pillars should guide what your deliverable messages are and what they look like. Will it be video-based or image based? If it’s copy, how long should it be? These considerations need to be based also on the platform you’re using to get the message across.

Because of the many variables that are factored into the building of your content pillars, though, ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all answer. And nor should there be. In the digital world, content for content’s sake just won’t cut it.

Do not create content for the sake of it. Think about the underlying messages you need to deliver and plan ahead with content pillars

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