The jury is in: You can’t build a reputation for creating high-quality content on social media without having solid content pillars in place.
And the reason for that is simple.
People crave consistency.
Social media users want to know what you’re going to talk about, when you’re going to talk about it, and what kind of value they can expect to walk away with.
Think about it.
If you’re a B2B link builder that follows SEO professionals on LinkedIn, you’re probably not following them in hopes of grabbing their grandmothers’ pie recipes. You’re likely following them for ethical link-building ideas, SEO best practices, and their subject-matter expertise.
But, if they talked about their family vacation on Monday, shared a recipe on Tuesday, and posted a carousel with five SEO tips on Wednesday, you might decide to hit the unfollow button.
Since you can’t depend on them for consistent, meaningful content, you’d likely take your browsing habits elsewhere, right?
That’s the idea.
Without clear content themes in place, social media users can’t depend on you, trust you, or develop a meaningful relationship with you.
If you’re ready to put together a content pillar strategy to focus your social media efforts, stick around to learn more.
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What Are Content Pillars?
If you’ve never heard of content pillars before, digital marketing consultant Shane Barker sums them up perfectly:
“Content pillars are not merely topics for your posts; they are the cornerstones of your social media strategy. By focusing on a handful of core themes, you not only build authority in these areas but also give your brand a consistent voice. Just like pillars support a building, content pillars support your social media presence by providing a solid foundation from which to grow and engage your audience.”
See? We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
If you’re ready to use content pillars in your social media strategy, read on to learn five ways you can uncover topics that are in line with your audience and the unique value your business offers.
1. Create Content Pillars Based on Your Audience’s FAQs
Ready to create relevant content for your social media audience? Testing question-based content topics — think who/what/when/where questions — can help you create valuable content assets for your social media followers.
A simple way to uncover which questions to target is by looking through your customer support (CS) tickets, feedback forms, and email inquiries. Don’t hesitate to prioritize email security and use the DKIM checker when sending email inquiries to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access or interception of communications.
Then, take this a step further by looking at the “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) for the main keyphrases your business targets. In these sections, you’ll see a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to your target keywords.
For instance, let’s take a look at one of the top keyphrases the brand Hers targets on Google, which is “how to get antidepressants”.
If we plug this into Google, we’ll see the following FAQs in the “People also ask” section:
Hers can also collect the following questions from the “Related searches” section:
After compiling a list of questions, look for patterns and repeated questions — the more it’s asked, the more important it is to your audience. Continue doing this until you have a list of five to 10 main question topics you can test as content pillars. If you get a positive response, continue testing similar questions or conduct a deeper dive into each question to uncover sub-pillars.
2. Mimic the Content Categories You Cover on Your Blog
Test the content categories you cover on your blog.
For instance, if you run a SaaS blog, you might offer the following categories:
- User-generated content, such as software reviews, comparison guides, and explainer videos by B2B affiliate marketers and subject-matter experts
- Educational content, including SaaS software how-tos, app listicles, and help center posts
- Motivational content, such as inspirational SaaS brand stories, case studies, and company wins
Take a look at your most beloved posts in these content buckets (check their ranking scores using Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker) and jot down their topics. Then look for patterns and similarities among these topics and whittle them down to a list of five to 10 options to test.
3. Repurpose the Pillar Content Pieces you Showcase on Your Blog
There are several content assets you’re already using as pillar pieces on your blog.
These are the ones you broadcast loud and proud. They’re at the top of your blog page, you’ve worked hard to get them to rank high, and you promote them as part of your wider content marketing strategy on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look at Campus.edu’s blog page, for example.
Campus.edu offers the following content categories on its blog: Business, community college, faculty, financial aid, press releases, and student life. It also has concrete pillar pieces in each category that it spends extra marketing dollars on. The following financial aid piece breaks down the process of applying for a pell grant:
Not only can Campus.edu repurpose snippets from this article into endless social media posts, but it can also test this topic as one of its social media content pillars. And you can do the same!
So, head to your blog and screenshot all of your showstopping pillar pieces. Narrow these topics down to a list of five to 10 you can test as content pillars on social media.
4. Generate Pillar Topics by Plugging Your Target Keyword Phrases Into an AI Writing Assistant
Here’s a simple way to find relevant topics in a pinch!
While we don’t recommend using an AI blog writer to write an entire article or social media post, we do suggest using it as part of your content planning process. With an AI writing assistant, like Simplified AI Blog Writer, you can plug in the keyphrases your business targets and prompt it to generate social media topics for you.
When asking for ideas, be specific.
For instance, try:
“Please generate social media topics using the provided keywords: Career building tips, career success, transferable skills, mid-level professionals, new graduates.”
Continue asking the AI writing assistant for topic ideas until you have a solid list of five to ten content pillars you can test.
5. Solidify Core Topics Based on Your Target Audience’s Pain Points
Revisit your target audience’s top pain points and how your product or service can solve them better than the competition.
Use these insights to brainstorm topics in line with your audience’s core needs.
For instance, if you sell productivity software to startups and solopreneurs, your audience might have the following pain points:
- Too much to do and not enough time to do it in
- Feeling lost in unorganized workflows
- Working on too many repetitive, mundane tasks
- A lack of a high-level task overview is leading to silos and careless mistakes
- Poor team collaboration options
In this case, you could test content pillars like:
- Productivity tips that save brands 10+ hours a week
- How to create pristine productivity workflows
- How to automate repetitive tasks
- How to remove information silos and stay aware of your task overview at all times
- Top team communication and collaboration tools, tips, and ideas
Again, get your list down to five to 10 ideas you can test.
And that brings us to …
6. Test and Finalize Your Pillar Topics
Test all of the methods above before finalizing your social media content pillars.
For instance, you might post educational content about lead scoring on Mondays, motivational content about successful sales brands on Wednesdays, and behind-the-scenes content about sales pitching on Thursdays.
Once the content planning process is complete, add your content themes, content types, and core topics to your social media content calendar.
From there you’ll need to plan who’s going to produce the content and who’s in charge of monitoring your social media content strategy.
And that’s content pillars for you in a nutshell!
Now it’s your turn. Follow the tips we shared today to generate content pillar ideas. Then, test your ideas before finalizing your core topics.
Finally, stay organized by adding your pillar topics to your content calendar and assigning roles and responsibilities to appropriate team members.
And that’s it. Here’s to your success!
PS: Looking for a complete marketing solution? With Rock Content’s products and services, you can turn your most ambitious content goals into a reality. Speak with an expert to learn more, today.
Ian David (Guest Author)
Ian David started his career in brick-and-mortar retail management, which quickly included eCommerce and digital marketing as well. He is an avid reader and a self-taught expert in SEO and content marketing. He writes for several publications on a variety of digital marketing topics. Recently, his focus has been on using influencer and affiliate marketing to drive more conversions.