reating a social media strategy that reaches your target audiences effectively is only the beginning. While an overall campaign looks at your big goals, objectives, and KPIs, it includes a lot of moving parts that must all function together like cogs in a wheel.
One of the most important elements of a solid campaign is your content strategy: deciding what messages you want to deliver, how you want to deliver them, and to whom. This can be a complex process, especially if you have multiple messages and a diverse range of target markets.
An effective way to keep all your disparate messages organized and on track is to separate them into content marketing pillars, or buckets. Each pillar represents a key topic or theme that serves as a foundation and a way to remain focused as you build out your publishing calendar. Pillars will help you ensure that your content is consistent, focused, relevant, and valuable, and will serve as a safeguard for not missing anything important.
(It’s easy to go off the rails when you’re thinking creatively – we know about that firsthand! Content pillars act as your guiding stars to ensure that your message isn’t lost, or delivered in a way that won’t resonate.) Here are some ways to create content pillars that work:
1. Identify your target audiences
Yep, we say this a lot, but it bears repeating: your campaign will not be successful if you don’t have a clear picture of whom you want to hear your message. This includes a lot more than basic demographic information too. What are their pain points? What would they like to know about your venue? What are your most commonly asked questions?
Your research should also include their social media habits, like the platforms they spend the most time on and what types of content they engage in. If you don’t have access to a market research firm to help you determine these analytics, one way to do a little recon is to scroll the social channels of your main competitors. While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, you’ll at least be able to see what they’re talking about. Take note of the type of posts that get the most engagement.
Work we love: The Sagamore Resort uses its Instagram page (designed and managed by Hawthorn Creative) to talk to its target audiences, including engaged couples, families, and those seeking a relaxing weekend away.
2. Be clear on your brand voice
What does your brand stand for? How does it speak? It can be easy to get swept up in the snark on Twitter or fall into the latest trends on TikTok, but if those things stray from what your brand represents, they can do more harm than good. Instead, focus on what makes your venue unique and how you communicate that. Can you change up your tone a little bit to match the style of LinkedIn vs. Facebook? Absolutely. But the core of every post should ladder back up to your brand voice and style.
Work we love: The Lake Placid Lodge understands that its picturesque backdrops are perfect for Instagram. The account (designed and managed by Hawthorn Creative) focuses on Insta-worthy content to create an irresistible vision for this lakeside retreat.
3. Brainstorm content ideas
Now for the fun part! With your guardrails in place, it’s time to start coming up with content ideas that align with your goals and objectives. Here are several suggestions for how to approach this stage.
- Spend an hour or so brainstorming every idea imaginable. Take copious notes, don’t say no, and reach for the stars without restrictions. From there, take the ideas and filter them through team members whose job it is to make them work within your guardrails. (Can you afford Ryan Reynolds as a spokesperson? Maybe not. But you’ve always been interested in an influencer campaign.)
- Start with the end. If you’re having trouble with creativity, determine your CTA … where do you want your viewers to end up? Once you have that answer, create a story and pathway to get them to that spot. (If you’d like a bride to ultimately book a tour of your venue, for example, craft a story that will entice her to click.)
- Group your ideas by pillar. This can work whether you start with a general brainstorm session or write your pillars on the whiteboard at the beginning. If your messages revolve around “Affordability,” “Unique Adventure,” and “Room Enough for Everyone,” brainstorm ideas that tell those three stories.
A few important notes to remember: (1) Stop every once in a while to refresh your memory on the overall strategy goals so that your content ideas remain focused, (2) Don’t just consider what you want to say, but how you’ll say it – some ideas lend themselves naturally to video or photography (or vice versa) and others are best communicated with the written word. A quick “blog post” or “Instagram reel” next to your idea will ensure that you don’t forget anything along the way.
4. Create a comprehensive publishing calendar
This may be one of the most important steps you take in establishing your content pillars. We recommend a multi-platform scheduling tool, like Hootsuite, where you can see everything that’s due to be published on every platform by the day, week, or month. Start by marking the dates that are timely and can’t be missed – grand openings, big events, registration cutoff dates, and other deadline-driven events. Determine how far in advance you want to promote them, a good cadence for repeating important news, and which platforms are the best for getting the word out.
From there, start filling in the blanks. You may want to consider color-coding or otherwise designating each content pillar as you go so that the various topics are distributed evenly (or concentrated on one best platform, if that’s the case).
5. Refine, refine, refine
One of the best things about social media is that it’s constantly in flux. If you posted a TikTok video that definitely did not go viral, you have the chance to try something new almost immediately. Conversely, if you have one that did go viral, you know that you should be doing more of the same.
As your campaign progresses, it’s important to pay close attention to not only your back-end analytics, but your real-time post engagements. Which posts are being liked and shared? Which ones get the most comments? Hearing firsthand what your audience is thinking is worth its weight in gold. And remember that when it comes to content – it’s what they engage with (not what you think is cool) that matters. Listen to your audience and meet them where they are. When you give them the right content in the right context, you’ll have no doubt of its success.