What I've learned about content pillars

 
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Over the last few months I’ve been doing more and more exploring into the depths of the world of content and content strategy. Here in New Zealand, there’s still not a lot of emphasis on content strategy as an important element to amazing customer experience. But since it’s something I have a true passion for, I’m taking it upon myself to make sure I’m kept up to date with all the latest learnings and research surrounding the content world.

One of the topics I’ve been exploring is the concept of a content pillar. It plays a huge part in the content marketing realm where there is a huge number of channels to populate, but there’s always limited time and resources to get the right message to all of them. A content pillar comes in handy as it’s essentially the foundation on which all your content can stem. For example, you may have a research project you’ve worked on, and it’s 64 pages long. However, putting a 64-page document onto Facebook isn’t going to be received well. So, using the research project as your content pillar, you can create other types of content that you can disseminate around your various channels that are informed by the pillar, but are targeted to specific audiences and channels.

I love this concept. The idea that you can create content once, and create it well, and then repurpose it across different channels makes me so excited and motivated. I start thinking of all the interesting and graphically pleasing things you could evolve your content pillar into. Like, think of the infographics you could create for Pinterest from the huge research document. Or think of the video content you could generate while you’re out and about interviewing people for the research.

This brings me to a very important element of working with content pillars. It’s important to conduct proactive planning instead of just reactive planning. There’s a time and a place for both, but to get the maximum efficiency out of your content pillar, having a plan in place before you start gathering all your resources is key. For example, if you need to go on a bit of a road trip to meet different people for your project, perhaps take along a GoPro or camera and document some road trip antics. Or maybe you want to video the people you’re talking to so you have some unique visual content to share across various channels. Having a plan in place means you can preplan what you want to share with your audience, and when. And you can build up a lot more excitement, engagement, and customer satisfaction by presenting varied and interesting content that complements the pillar.

There’s also a great SEO benefit for content pillars when it comes to generating content on your websites. There’s always been the awareness that maintaining a blog, and using keywords that people search for is great for the search engine optimisation of your website. However, it may no longer be enough to just have one blog post about a topic on your website any more. This is where the concept of a content pillar comes in handy. If you can create content pillars on your website, and then create content that relates to those pillars and link to them, your search optimisation will really benefit.

There’s still plenty for me to learn about content pillars — this is really just scraping the surface! I’ll keep you posted with all my learnings as I do more and more research!

Lara WyattWriting