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How To Use Content Pillars In Your Social Media Marketing

Looking to create content pillars for your social media strategy? We share the entire process with you as well as examples from popular brands.

May 24, 2022
How To Use Content Pillars In Your Social Media Marketing
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Trying to create enough content gets draining. The stress only gets worse when you’re the only one running your business. If you’re drowning in content creation, the solution is in creating content pillars. They answer your questions of “What do I create next?” 

What Are Content Pillars?

A content pillar is meant to be a comprehensive long-form guide to a subject or theme, with many potential subtopics. This is why content pillars are also sometimes called content buckets or content hubs. Other names include flagship content or cornerstone content.

The subtopics briefly mentioned or linked within a content pillar offer a way to drive readers to even more of your content. These related pieces of content make up your topic cluster.

The content pillar itself should match your area of expertise, tone, and brand.  This allows you to demonstrate your expertise and positions you as an authority on the subject.

Why Are Content Pillars Helpful in Social Media?

Content pillars act as a home base for the subject matter at hand. So when it comes time to plan social media content, you already have a list of subtopics that you can cover. You can cover these subtopics briefly and repurpose content again even after that.

Content pillars are a great way to develop your social media strategy. This is because you can both update your content pillars regularly as well as post consistent social content on the subtopics involved.

Content pillars make it easy to plan content for a week or month at a time because there’s already a list of topics that can be addressed from the cluster.

Having specific clusters of content and posting informative social content about them boosts your credibility and consistency as a brand as well. It makes a big difference seeing content that relates back to one subject on a brand’s social media account versus seeing a lot of posts about all sorts of random subjects. 

What Are the Types of Content Pillars?

There are three main types of content pillars, all with the intention to educate your audience: the How-To, the Guide, and the What-Is. We’ll explain a little more about each of these types below.

The same idea of a content pillar applies to each of these, meaning that they all broadly cover one topic and offer opportunities for further content that can be linked back to the main content pillar.

How-To Pillar Content

A high-quality How-To post will outline the steps to accomplish something while being easy to follow and understand. How-to content creates opportunities for many more pieces of content to expand on the individual steps of a task or process.

Great how-to posts and related content are easily shared and spread across social media platforms, especially if you tweak the content for each platform. For example, an Instagram version of the process might have a carousel outlining each of the steps, while a Twitter version might be a thread of steps with answers to audience questions. Your specific content style might also change depending on audience personas.

How-to content works well for those advertising a product or service because you can showcase that product or service throughout the content.

Guide Pillar Content

Anytime you’ve seen a piece of content titled, “The Ultimate Guide to X” you’ve found this content pillar. These long guides are made to briefly touch on all areas of a subject and provide links to further explanations of the details.

Guide content, when formatted well, can be evergreen, making it a key part of your social media strategy that you can return to time and time again. The same guide can essentially be shared in various ways with additional content referencing the main subject. 

What-Is Pillar Content

Writing What-is content offers your business the chance to shine the light on a topic you’re an expert in. This type of content pillar gives you the chance to explain what a topic means to your ideal audience using language that makes sense to them. So even if there are many What-Is articles on your core topic, you can still stand out from the crowd.

What-Is content pillar works best for complicated subjects that need in-depth understanding to fully grasp. For example, you might not be able to write an exceptional “What Is a Computer Mouse” content pillar, but you can definitely write a “What is Artificial Intelligence” content pillar because there is much you could teach about this subject.

How to Identify Content Pillars for Your Brand

Building a content pillar strategy for your social media takes less time than you might imagine. Once you know what your content pillars are, it’s easy to find new ways to frame subsequent topics and content ideas that all relate back to the original themes. Here’s how to find them:

1. Consider your business goals

What’s important for your audience to know about your business or brand? What do you want to be known for? Make a list of the major topics that your business is involved in for you to research.

2. Define your target

Using the topics that you came up with, in the previous step, choose a topic your target audience needs to understand. Also, think about what your audience’s pain points are. What questions do you have the power to answer? One way to do this is to go on AnswerThePublic.com and search for a specific topic. This is also the best time to consider what your competitors are covering in their pillar content.

3. Outline your content pillar and subtopics

Once you’ve picked the overarching theme of your content pillar, decide which subtopics should be briefly covered so that you can expand on them in later content. You’ll need this list of subtopics for planning your social strategy and calendar. Keyword research also comes in at this stage as you’re planning your strategy.

4. Create your content calendar and get to work

Your content pillar posts are going to take the most amount of time to create since it needs to be a well-informed and comprehensive guide to the subject. Only after you’ve published your content pillar can you then begin creating all of the additional content pieces that relate back to the main content pillar. Plan when you’ll be publishing each subtopic of content ahead of time on your social content calendar to stay on track to reach your publishing goals.

How to Use Content Pillars in your Social Media Marketing (With Examples)

To demonstrate just how useful content pillars can be, we’ve compiled a list of five great examples from social media.

Christina Galbato’s Travel Guide

Christina’s Instagram post is a mini travel guide for her audience with suggestions for places to stay, eat, and go to. This one content pillar acts as the inspiration for future posts expanding on each of these recommended spots. The same content can be repurposed into blog posts, image carousels, and more.

content pillar instagram example

Writing Tip Thread by Alex Mathers

This Twitter thread compiles 10 top tips for writing through a collection of short and sweet tweets. Mathers’ thread makes it easy to add links to other posts, more detailed blog entries, or other related tweets to continue the conversation with interested readers.

content pillar twitter example

Digital Photography School’s Ultimate Guide to Manual Focus

In an industry like photography, you might need a lot more images to explain your content. In this example, Digital Photography School uses Twitter to promote a link to a content pillar around the subject of using manual focus on your professional camera. Even if you can’t fit all of the content pillars on social media, you can still promote it within other posts.

Badass Templates’ 25 Post Ideas

This content pillar uses a slightly different approach by using a highly visual image on a highly visual social media—Pinterest. This collection of post ideas can lead to a minimum of 25 additional pieces of content based on the 25 types of posts listed. Future content pieces might focus on the who, what, when, where, and why’s for even more relevant information relating to this pillar.

Pixabay’s Content Mapping Flow Chart

This visual flowchart is a great example of how many parts of a topic come together to create a coherent pillar. Each of the subtopics in this flowchart offers an entire world of content to explore.

content pillar pinterest flowchart example

If you’re ready to create your own content pillars, let Jasper help by saving you time on creating topic ideas, outlines, or even captions for your social media posts. Jasper’s Boss Mode also lets you give Jasper commands to write your long-form content for you. 

What are you waiting for? Sign up for Jasper today.

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Meet the author

Dave Rogenmoser
CEO of Jasper

Dave is the Co-Founder Jasper, a Y Combinator-backed tech company based in Austin, Texas. He is also a husband and father of 3 boys. Rumor has it, he 6'8" tall and once ate the beating heart of a king cobra.

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