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How to Use Content Pillars for Your Social Media Strategy

Updated on June 28, 2023
9 minute read

Content pillars = key to success 🔑

Published June 28, 2023

Are content pillars still relevant in 2023?

Short answer: yes.

While it may be a social media buzzword (followed closely by "authenticity"), content pillars are integral to helping you create content — especially when you're in a creative rut.

So, we're sharing our top tips for creating content pillars for social media that'll help you stay organized, be consistent, and produce content your audience will love.

Plus, we're even sharing our favorite tool for scheduling your posts when they're ready to go.

P.S. If video is more your style, watch our 6-minute breakdown below:

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What Are Content Pillars for Social Media?

Content pillars are three to five topics your brand will consistently discuss, amplify, and create content for on social media.

Also called content categories or content buckets, these topics form the foundation of what you'll post.

"These are the key themes your audience can consistently expect to see from you," says Later's Social Media Manager, Christine Colling.

Why Are Content Pillars Important?

Simple: content pillars help you stay focused.

Instead of posting anything and everything, you can create more relevant content for your target audience — establishing you as a go-to expert (or a source of inspiration or entertainment).

This way, you'll stand out amongst the thousands of accounts on social media vying for follows and engagement.

Take Later's Instagram account which focuses on social media marketing tips, trends, news, relatable social media manager woes, and Later product hacks:

@latermedia diversified content types on Instagram: carousel post & Reel

By consistently posting about certain topics, Later's seen massive Instagram growth over the years — and has officially built a community of 500K followers. 🎉

Another reason why content pillars for social media are important?

They make planning your content so much easier.

Rather than scrambling to create last-minute posts, you can use your content pillars to strategically build your content calendar for the week (or month) ahead.

"It's important to remember though that while content pillars will be specific to your brand, they can also cover a few additional themes," adds Christine (more on that, later).

FYI: Later's social media management tools are trusted by over 7M social media managers, brands, and creators to plan, schedule, and analyze their social media posts. Create an account today — for free.

6 Content Pillar Examples

As mentioned, your content pillars can encompass multiple themes — so while they will all have a common thread, you're not pigeonholed into creating the exact same content every week.

In other words: be consistent, not repetitive.

Here are six content pillar examples you can use for inspiration:

  1. An independent bookstore could focus primarily on indie book reviews and news, behind-the-scenes of running a small business, and local coffee shops

  2. A fashion content creator’s pillars could be minimalist style, body positivity, self-love tips, and budgeting hacks

  3. A marketing strategist could focus on entrepreneurship, social media news, and work-life balance tips

  4. A food brand's content pillars could include product round-ups, recipes, cooking tips, and breaking down nutrition myths

  5. A fitness creator could share morning routine tips, simple at-home workouts, and motivational quotes

  6. A luxury luggage brand's content pillars could focus on luxury hotel guides, travelling how-tos, packing hacks, and product tutorials

But how do you identify and define your brand's content pillars? Keep scrolling, friend.

How to Identify & Define Your Brand's Content Pillars in 2023

Creating content pillars isn't a quick one-second brainstorm.

First, you need to identify what they could be and then narrow them down!

Here are five things to consider when building your content pillar strategy:

  1. Business Goals and Audience Needs

  2. Keyword Research

  3. Content Analytics and Performance

  4. Audience FAQs and Feedback

  5. Use Later's AI-powered Ideas Tool

#1: Business Goals and Audience Needs

Content pillars = aligned with your business goals.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you trying to achieve with your social media presence?

  • What type of content will your target audience find valuable?

  • Are you aiming to be primarily educational, inspirational, entertaining — a mix of all three?

  • Do you want to drive traffic to your website or hone in on brand awareness?

It may seem simple, but this is key to building out what your content pillars will be.

TIP: Revisit your content pillars every month to make sure they're still aligned with your overall vision. It's okay if they change — as your brand evolves, so does your content.

If you need help building your goals for social media, download our free worksheet.

#2: Keyword Research

Paying attention to what's happening in your industry and keeping an eye on trends can be a massive help in defining your content pillars for social media.

To do this, prioritize keyword research to see what's growing in popularity, what content gaps exist, and where you can flex your expertise or perspective.

Plus, it's great for helping out your SEO strategy in the long-run (you can get more easily discovered using certain keywords in your captions).

Need help finding keywords on the rise? Here are a few free recommendations:

  • Instagram and TikTok Search: Type your niche in the search bar and take note of the relevant keywords that pop up, hashtags being used, and content being created.

  • Google Trends: Discover what people are searching for on Google. You can narrow it down to certain categories, countries, and even length of time (say for example, the past month).

  • Pinterest Search: Use the search tool to look up your industry. The Pins that show up at the top are a good indicator of the type of content people want to see.

  • AnswerThePublic: Gives you insight in your audience's pain points and what they're searching for.

We broke down everything you need to know about optimizing your content for SEO here:
Instagram SEO: 5 Ways to Increase Your Discoverability

#3: Content Analytics and Performance

Looking at your analytics is a great way to find out what content performs well, is engaged with the most, and resonates with your audience.

Make note of high-performing social media posts, their captions, the visuals you used, and any hashtags (or keywords) you added.

Are there common themes you can identify as potential content pillars? Start there.

To get even better insight into what's working, we recommend an in-depth analytics tool like Later to track key metrics like comments, likes, and your engagement rate.

laters engagement rate tool in analytics

You can monitor and compare posts, and better visualize the content that's driven the most engagement week-over-week and month-over-month.

Create a free account — or try one of our paid plans — and start diving into your data today.

#4: Audience FAQs and Feedback

Another way to gain inspiration for content pillars on social media is by listening to your audience and making note of FAQs.

What do they frequently ask you about or want to know? 

Remember, social media is about being social.

Don't just post and ghost — listen to what your followers are commenting or DM'ing you. Interact with their feedback, and use it as a way to know what they want more of from you.

And when in doubt, create Stories or posts that specifically ask your community they'd find helpful.

During 2020 lockdowns, Later asked our followers this question directly:

Listening is a great way to stay connected to your audience, learn what they actually want, and use their feedback to create posts they’ll engage with.

#5: Use Later's AI-powered Ideas Tool

Remember all that research you did: setting goals, identifying keywords, and finding common themes in your content?

Well, now it's time to put your brainstorming hat on.

Enter: Later's new AI-powered Ideas tool. 

With it, you can generate relevant content pillars for social media by inputting a few keywords and phrases (maximum 300 characters): 

Later will recommend five content pillars based on your description (so be specific!), along with content ideas for each pillar — whether it's a behind-the-scenes Reel or a series of tutorials.

By leaning into AI content creation, you can generate both content pillars and ideas quickly, so you can spend more time creating meaningful content that resonates with your audience. 

Win-win. 🎉

How to Create, Plan, and Schedule Your Content Calendar in 2023

Once you've identified, brainstormed, and defined what your content pillars will be, you can start creating content that'll support each topic or category.

Whether it's short-form videos like Reels, YouTube Shorts, or TikTok, a carousel post, a long-form caption on LinkedIn, or Instagram Stories, your content pillars can be shared on social media in multiple ways.

Side by side of Emily in Paris-related content posted on Later's Instagram. On the left, a user-generated content video poking fun at how easy Emily makes social media work seem on the show that reads "POV: You're Emily in Paris so anything you post goes viral" — the person snaps a photo with a trash can and gets hundreds of likes.  On the right, a meme that reads "Social media managers watching Emily in Paris," coupled by a GIF of "Emily" looking offended, with a tag that says "offended" on the GIF.

But in order to be consistent and effective, it's helpful to plan and schedule your posts in advance — it'll ease the pressure of posting on-the-fly, save time, and streamline the entire content creation process.

Later's social team uses Google Sheets and Asana to outline the topics they'll cover — along with making note of any important dates (like upcoming holidays or product launches), always-on content, and potential trends to jump on.

TIP: Download our free social media content calendar template.

From there, you'll want to schedule the content you've created (at specified dates and times) using a social media management tool like Later.

With it, you can see all of your content (in our handy Media Library), alongside your upcoming posts for Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter — and even craft your captions in advance.

You’ll be able to see exactly how your posts look before they go live, and gain a holistic view of whether you’re striking the right balance of your content pillars. 

Not only will content pillars lay the foundation for killer social media posts, they’ll help you feel more confident about your ability to be consistent on every platform.

It's a win-win.

Create content pillars for social media, plan your content calendar, and then schedule your posts with Later. Create an account today — for free! 

Never Miss a Trend AgainJoin over 1 million marketers to get social news, trends, and tips right to your inbox!Email Address

Plan, schedule, and automatically publish your social media posts with Later.

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