Why content pillars matter

gray scale photo of concrete pillar

Ah, the blank screen of doom.

I think we’ve all been there – especially when it comes to posting about our businesses on social media. After all, we’re repeatedly told that:

    • we need to post consistently

    • our posts need to provide value and engage our audience

    • we need to build know, like trust (which, one some platforms, means posting multiple times a day)

But, what exactly do we post? Is it possible to have a real life as well as an online one? And how do we avoid sounding boring/repetitive/like a bit of a dick?

The truth is that managing your own social media can be hard. Especially when you have tours to run and itineraries to plan. Often, it seems like there just isn’t time to run a tourism business AND dream up fun, creative social media posts with enticing visuals to match.

So, you sit slumped in front of your laptop, waiting for inspiration to strike. And sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Then the next day you’re back to square one again and that darn black screen!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a strategy?

Of course it would! But how do you even start with that?

I’m not going to lie – developing your social media can take time. But in the long run, it’ll be a lifesaver.

In this post, I’m going to run you through the basic building blocks for setting up a social media strategy for your tourism business.

Does this mean your social media posting will be effortless from hereon in?

Um, nope – sorry.

But it does mean that it will get easier. And that you’ll be less likely to find yourself confronted by that blank screen…

Step 1: What are your content pillars?

What exactly do you want to communicate about your tourism business to your ideal customers? Choose 3-4 key themes. These are your content pillars, and they should be the basis of everything you post on social media.

Building your posts around these pillars will not only build your brand (over time your audience will know what to expect of you) but it will help your posting consistency and make it much easier for you to find posting inspiration.

Wondering what your pillars are? Let’s move on to the next step.

Step 2: Defining your content pillars

Choosing your pillars shouldn’t be a random exercise. And the pillars you pick shouldn’t be based on your particular interests, but on what your customers need.

The most important thing to do when deciding on your content pillars is to spend time in market research, finding out what matters to your customers. You can do this by finding out what keywords your customers are searching for online, highlighting recurring words in customer reviews or by conducting some market research with customers  (1-1 conversations are great for this).

Then have an intensive brainstorming session. Write down as many words as you can associated with what customers want and what you provide. Then narrow this down to a maximum of 4 content pillars. For example, a tour guide in Shetland might choose the following as their content pillars:

    • A place to reset (away from the daily grind)

    • Local culture

    • Storytelling

    • Building trust

Step 3: Choosing topics

Next, you need to think of content topics to go with each pillar. Imagine you are a Shetland tour guide and have decided on the content pillars above. Here are just a few content ideas to go with each post.

    • A place to reset: descriptions of local beaches, Northern Lights photos, fact file about local wildlife, list of health and wellness opportunities, e.g.: beachside sauna, wellness writing etc.

    • Local culture: Shetland seafood, interview with knitter, a few phrases in Shetland dialect and their meanings, videos of local festivals

    • Storytelling: 3 commonly-held myths about Shetland, tale of last witch to be hung in Shetland, stories of smugglers etc.

    • Building trust: candid selfies (of YOU!), videos of you sharing your favourite stories, your favourite pub (with reasons why) etc.

Try this exercise with your own location. I’m sure loads of opportunities will spring to mind!

Step 4: Create a campagin

Thinking of one post at a time can get exhausting and this is often where inspiration starts to flag. Instead of thinking in terms of individual posts, think in terms of campaigns.

That means thinking of what you want to focus on in your tourism business, and then really doubling down on it – think of something that can be linked to all of your content pillars.

So, to continue with the example above, let’s say I want to promote my walking tour of Shetland. That means that for one month, all of my posts are written with this goal in mind.

That doesn’t mean writing ‘Hey, come on my walking tour!’ in every post. Because, let’s face it, that’d get pretty annoying. But it could mean:

Post 1: a photo of a local beach I’d take in on my walking tour (Content pillar: a place to reset)

Post 2: an archive photo of a historical figure I talk about on my tour and a teasing hook so people are desperate to find out more! (Content pillar: storytelling)

Post 3: A photo of my scuffed hiking boots along with a little story about them, and why I love them (I always wear them on my walking tours!) (Content pillar: building trust)

Post 4: Video footage me walking along the historic street that features on my walking tour, as I point out a couple of historic landmarks (Content pillars: building trust and culture)

Step 5: Plan your calendar

You can use your content pillar to plan loads of social media posts. I like to plan a month in advance, but you could do much more than this – and wouldn’t that be nice during the busy tourist season?

These are the foundations of your social media strategy – if you want some icing and cherries to go on top, stick around for my next post.

And – if you need a quick fix of inspiration check out my 30 days of social media planner.

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