At Chirr App, we just released analytics for your folders that let you see and compare the performance between different folders, or types, of content. This post will elaborate on why thinking of your content in groups of discrete categories makes all kinds of sense.
Using content pillars in social media means establishing themes that you choose to talk about. Committing to a set of subtopics or discrete themes helps you systematically narrow in on a brand voice that resonates with your audience, while also keeping your brand's voice focused and consistent.
How content pillars inform your marketing strategy
The wrong way to use content pillars is to pick a few topics related to your industry and then start firing off fun facts, tips, and recent news in those categories. The reason this approach is misguided is that if it works, you're likely to attract a bunch of people that are there to participate in a shared conversation around those topics. The conversion from this kind of engagement may be incredibly low.
In Twitter's Flight school course on crystalizing your content strategy, their official recommendation is to use content pillars and think of content themes at the intersection of what your business does and what your audience is interested in. Deciding on a set of themes that convey and support your business's purpose and positioning will help your Twitter content stand out to the right people.
Lets you systematically explore what works - By bucketing content into clear themes and then being able to analyze how each bucket is performing, your team can narrow in on what kind of message works for your brand. It also gives you an objective measure of how well new themes and ideas resonate with your audience.
Helps you plan and create relevant content - Well-defined boundaries and specificity around the type of content that works make it easier for your team to plan and come up with relevant content.
Keeps your brand voice focused - Thematic groups for your content also act as a filter and prevent your brand from producing content that doesn't align with your business's overall purpose.
Some examples of content pillars
A company called Sendible has distinct themes for the type of content they post on Twitter. Without having to work too hard, you immediately get a sense of what the company is about and who its product is for.
Highly actionable social media marketing tips for social media managers.
Promotion ideas around holidays and events
Whimsical, team morale boosters.
Another example of content pillars done right is Saturday Night Live on Instagram.
Close-ups of people on the show.
Behinds the scenes shots.
Promotional posts for event nights.
How do you define your social media content pillars?
One of the best places to start is with similar businesses.
Let's pretend you're responsible for managing the Twitter account for the bar you work at. Start by finding 10 other bars in a similar price range that have active social media accounts and appeal to the same kind of audience you're going for. Go through their recent posts and start categorizing them. Standard pics of food and drink would be one category. Now you need options for other categories.
Do this for about 5 minutes, and you'll find bars posting:
pictures from last night's event
press mentions or reviews
stories about the history of the bar
interviews with key staff members
recommendations for other things to do and places to go when you're in town.
Let's be clear, I am not suggesting you copy other people's content here. The point is to understand what themes of content are working for businesses in the same space. You then use that understanding to start thinking about how you can do your version of that category.
A bar is an interesting example here because a bar's "purpose" is quite fuzzy. Maybe the bar is positioned for young people, specifically tourists who want to meet new people while they are in town. Pictures that show how much fun your events are and recommendations for other things to do in town would likely perform well in this context. Perhaps your bar is bang in the middle of the financial district. A much older crowd then, more of a place for drinks after work. Stories about the bar's history and press mentions anchoring the establishment's prestige might work better here. The point is that you can test different themes out and see which ones resonate with the people you are trying to reach.
Similar businesses are a good starting point, but you don't have to limit yourself to the categories that work for them. To be fair, there is no way to know if those categories are actually working for them. Maybe they just copied someone else, and it's turtles all the way down.
Looking to competitors is great for getting the ball moving, but eventually, you want to return to first principles and ask yourself what your business's purpose is, what kind of change it's helping people make, and who wants to make that kind of change. Full credit to Josh Spector for elaborating on this process in his post on how to get followers on Twitter.
1. What kind of change are you in the business of helping people make?
2. Who are the people already looking to make this change?
3. What do those people value?
4. How can you provide that value in tweet format?
If you have a clear grasp of what you're in the business of helping people do, then it comes down to understanding what kinds of things these people value, and figuring out how you can give it to them in tweet format.
These are important questions, and it might take a while to get to the bottom of them, so in the meantime, here are some sensible content pillar defaults you can start with:
◻️ Tell customer stories - In the context of a business, effective stories are customer stories. Reviews, testimonials, case studies, or richer stories about the kinds of changes your product has helped them make.
◻️ Offer useful information - The best way to be helpful online is to answer people's questions with clear, actionable information. You can do this by listening to them in forums, social media groups, and online courses. This approach helps you sound like a human being again and snap out of corporate marketing robot mode.
◻️ Ask relevant questions - Asking questions on a regular basis can lead to great engagement, which is a good proxy for determining whether your content is resonating with your audience.
These categories are not prescriptive solutions. Stories, helpful info, and questions are just sensible defaults. Once you've established a baseline with these three envelopes, you should start experimenting with different kinds of content envelopes that could work better for your business. Maybe memes and silly jokes make a whole bunch of sense for your business.
Set up content pillars with Chirr App
At Chirr App, we have folders for your drafts that make it easy to organize and manage content by grouping related tweets together. By organizing tweets and threads into separate folders, you can see at a glance which content groups are performing best.
How to set up folders for your content
The draft section of the App has a subheader called folders.
If you’ve never used folders before, there will be three different example folders set up for you. You can use, rename or delete these folders and set up as many new folders as you want by clicking on the dropdown next to the folder button in the subheader.
You could set up a folder for each of the content types you want to experiment with. These folders will then house all of the tweets and threads related to that theme.
You can start creating new content from within a folder, or you can add a draft to a folder while you’re writing it. To add a draft to a folder from the editor, you just need to click on the dropdown by the ‘draft saved’ label in the editor footer. This will let you add the draft to an existing folder, or it will let you create and save your content to a new folder.
Once you have scheduled out and posted tweets that belong to a folder, the analytics page will show insights related to these posts on a table on the ‘Top Folders’ page.
Top folder analytics lets you easily compare which type of content is performing well with your audience. This can inform what type of content you should continue to invest in, or create new folders for, and which type of content you should probably spend less time on.
Setting up and experimenting with different groups of content is helpful for exploring what themes to focus on for your brand. Customer stories and relevant, actionable industry information are two sensible content groups to start with. Then the idea is to start experimenting with different types of content that could work for your business. Maybe memes and silly jokes make sense for your industry. Also, consider checking out what categories of content are working for similar businesses and play with variations of pillars that resonate.
Folders can be used in any way that makes sense for your team. You can create folders for different writers on the team so that everyone has their own workspace. You can create folders for different topical themes, or you can group different holiday marketing campaigns that you're working on. There really is no correct way to organize your folders.
Using content pillars to organize your social media strategy just means establishing clear themes that you intentionally talk about. Committing to a set of categories or subtopics helps you understand what type of content is resonating with your audience, and it helps keep your brand voice focused and consistent.