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Boost Engagement with Content Pillars for Social Media in 2024

content pillars for social media

Generating content ideas for social media is an everyday struggle for many e-commerce brands. Research suggests that 51% of marketers struggle with producing creative and consistent content for social media, and running out of content marketing ideas is common among brands and marketers.

But, it shouldn’t be the case for your brand. Today, we’ll learn a strategic and long-term approach to generating social media content ideas, allowing you to boost your audience engagement in 2024 and beyond.

Table of Contents
What are content pillars and why do they matter?
How to define the right content pillars for your brand?
Boost engagement today!

What are content pillars and why do they matter?

A content pillar is a key, specific, and relevant theme from which brands can extract multiple topics and content pieces. Similar to how a keyword can be a source of many ideas and articles for SEO writers and marketers, a content pillar is a subject from which businesses can generate many content ideas for their social media platforms.

For example, one of the content pillars of a skincare e-commerce brand can be anti-aging. Anti-aging is a theme that skincare brands use to generate and create relevant content that attracts their target audience.

Content pillars are the foundation of your brand communication. They structure your content marketing strategy so you can guarantee that your presence on social media is coherent and perfectly matches your brand image.

Content pillars should be relevant to your niche and target audience, and they should not be:

  • Too broad:

A theme that is too broad will not serve as a content pillar as it will lead you to create pieces of content that have no direction and structure. 

  • Too specific:

A theme that is too niche, which you can only generate a limited number of topics from, doesn’t serve as a content pillar because you will consume it quickly and have no content ideas left.

  • Short-termed:

A trendy theme for just a short period is good to create viral content but does not serve as a content pillar. A content pillar should be a long-term theme that you can always rely on and generate content from.

The importance of content pillars for your social media strategy

We can all agree that content pillars are essential for a successful content marketing strategy. Whether this content is for your website, email newsletters, or Instagram reels, having content pillars is important.

For social media, it’s even more important. Your presence on social media is what makes you connected to your audience most of the time.

Most brands don’t publish daily blog posts on their websites, nor do they send daily email newsletters, but they post daily on social media platforms (or at least they should).

Your social media content is the content your followers are more likely to interact with on a daily basis, and having a solid foundation for this content is super important. Here are some benefits of having clearly defined and strategic content pillars for social media:

  1. Easier content creation:

As you know, content creation is a multi-step process that starts with content ideation. Content pillars will streamline that process and make it easier to develop great content ideas that your target audience can relate to.

Instead of trying to guess what you should post about as a brand, content pillars will guide you to create the right content and plan the process as well.

  1. Better positioning:

When you have specific themes and topics that you regularly post about, your followers and target audience know that your social media pages are the right place to visit if they want to consume content about those themes. This means you position your business as an industry expert.

This is especially true if you produce valuable, unique, high-quality content.

Also, since each theme comes with relevant keywords and hashtags, you help social media platforms (and search engines) categorize and position you, which boosts your brand authority.

  1. Professional presence on social media:

Having well-defined content pillars boosts your overall brand image. This is because your content and social media presence will look organized, consistent, and professional.

You will stay on track when you have content pillars to guide you. In other words, your social media pages will “make sense” to your customers.

With content pillars, your content strategy signals to your target audience that you know what to do. You’re not just randomly trying to produce content for the sake of it. You have a strategy and a clear positioning, which leads to more trust and brand authority.

How to define the right content pillars for your brand?

posting content on social media

How many content pillars does your brand need? As a rule of thumb, a brand should have three to five content pillars on social media. It’s recommended not to exceed six to keep your content structured and consistent. 

In general, there are two themes that can be content pillars for most brands. Creating regular content in those themes is important to keep customers engaged and make them feel heard and seen:

  • Products & promotions: product photos, product announcements, giveaways, discounts, etc.
  • Community: reviews, customers’ feedback, and user-generated content in general.

Now that you have two content pillars, how can you define the remaining three to four content pillars for your social media? Those content pillars should be specific to your brand, and here’s the best process to follow:

1. Identify your target audience

Identifying content pillars, like anything else in marketing, starts with your target audience. You should know your audience’s pain points as well as preferences regarding the content they consume.

Let’s take a look at what Sabri Suby, an entrepreneur and digital marketing expert, says about identifying your target audience:

  • “Hangs out on Facebook” is too general, but “Hangs out in the Mothers of Melbourne Facebook group” is more precise and actionable.
  • “Reads blogs” isn’t targeted enough, but “Obsessively reads Rockin Mama, Mamavation, and Reddit” is defined and revealing.

This is how you should approach identifying your audience. Answer more specific questions about your audience’s content consumption habits:

  • Which influencers do they follow?
  • Which blogs do they like to check regularly?
  • Which Facebook groups do they join?
  • Which content do they search for?
  • Which YouTube channels do they subscribe to?

It’s also important to know your buyer personas.

In general, you should have at least one content pillar that resonates with each group of people represented by your buyer personas. You don’t need to make your content pillars relevant to all your buyer personas, but each buyer persona should find a content pillar that speaks to them.

2. Brainstorm ideas

Now that you know your target audience, it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your content pillars.

While analyzing your target audience in the previous step, you should have an idea about what might interest them. So, write down the themes that come to mind when thinking about your target audience and niche.

Here are some other ways to get inspiration for your content pillars:

  • Look at the content statistics in your niche as well as the market trends and gain insights about themes that interest your target audience.  
  • Think of what content can complement your offer. The products you sell should solve a problem for the customer, and people who have that problem would be interested to know things that will help them use your products in a way that will solve the problem quickly and more effectively. Think of content that will supplement and boost your product’s value (must-knows, best practices, etc.)
  • Get inspired from your competitors. If a content pillar performs well for your competitors, it means your target audience is interested in it. Having the same theme as your competitors does not mean you’re copying them; it’s normal for competitive brands to have similar content pillars as long as each one produces its own unique content.
  • You can go in the opposite direction and look for the missing themes in your competitors’ content and the content produced in your niche in general. Try to answer the following questions: What content does my target audience need and look for but can’t find enough of? You can fill this gap by adding it to your content pillars.

Now that you have a list of potential themes, select three or four that are the most needed, the most relevant, and the closest to your brand vision and values.

For each theme, make a list of the key topics, trends, and frequently asked questions by your target audience.

3. Plan & analyze your content pillars

Now that you have specific themes along with the topics and the questions, you’ve identified your content pillars, but your job isn’t done yet. It’s time to plan your social media content and analyze its performance.

  • Create a balance between all content pillars:

If you have five content pillars, each pillar should take 20% of the content you produce on social media. 20% of your content should be about the first theme, another 20% about the second theme, and so on…

It’s important to start this way and observe which one performs better and generates more leads and engagement. Then, you can adjust those percentages as you see fit.

  • Know the right form of content for each pillar:

There are content pillars that you can fit in all forms of content (videos, photos, stories, tweets, etc.), and others that perform well with only some specific forms of content.

For example, if you’re a brand that sells superfoods and chooses “healthy recipes” as a content pillar, you know that most people prefer watching a short video presenting a recipe instead of reading a written version.

It’s important to know the right form for your content pillars and plan accordingly.

different forms for content pillars

  • Plan according to your content pillars:

To make content creation and social media content update easier, you can dedicate a day or two days for each content pillar, depending on the form of content needed for it. This makes you more organized and makes it easier to track and see how each content form and theme performs.

This approach will also observe which days and times are more suitable for each topic and form (since some topics are time-sensitive).

Of course, your content pillars should not be time-sensitive, but some topics under those pillars can be, and that’s okay. When you plan your content this way, you can be certain that you offer your customers the right content at the right time.

Boost engagement today!

Having content pillars saves you a lot of time, streamlines your social media marketing, and takes your brand to a more professional level. But, that’s not enough for an effective social media strategy. You need to enrich those content pillars with fresh perspectives, insights, and conversations to boost your audience engagement and stand out from your competitors.

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