June 16th, 2015

Inbound Marketing Strategy

If you are using content marketing as a strategy for building online visibility, you probably know that exceptional content is the key to growing a loyal audience. You might not know, though, that pillar posts can have a dramatic impact on your traffic. Pillar posts, which typically contain at least 1,000 words, are highly shareable and can help you attract new audience members via social networks. Before you create a pillar post for your blog or website, though, there are several things you should consider:

Focus on mass audience appeal. Every piece of content you publish should be relevant to your target audience. A pillar post, though, must have dramatic appeal. You want your readers to share your pillar posts with others on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media platforms.

To create high appeal, a pillar post must answer a pressing question shared by many of your existing and potential audience members. It is not enough to simply provide a small nugget of useful information within your content. Your post should identify a major problem that your audience has and offer a clear solution to that problem.

Before you begin writing your pillar post, think about your niche from your audience's perspective. If you were in the market for the products or services your website offers, what would be the most pressing problem you would want to solve? If you're not sure what problem you should address in your pillar post, connect with your existing audience on your business Facebook or Google+ page. Your fans won't mind being asked about their problems. In many cases, they will be more than happy to tell you about their needs. You can then use feedback to determine the specific topic for your pillar post.

Create an outline before you write. An outline is a good idea for any piece of content; however, it is critical when you are creating a post longer than 1,000 words. Without an effective outline, you could easily end up rambling and fail to provide the substance needed for your readers to share your content. Take the time to think about the major points you want to make and incorporate these points into your outline in a logical progression.

Your outline should begin with an introduction that identifies the problem and hints at the solution your post will offer. If you have taken the time to identify a pressing problem, you don't need to devote multiple paragraphs to explaining the problem to your readers. As long as you have done your homework, a single paragraph will suffice.

The body of the outline should address key points of the solution your post offers. In a short article, you might only address three main points; however, because a pillar post is designed to facilitate an in-depth analysis of the solution, you might have five or more key points. Because long articles can be difficult to read, it is a good idea to use headers and bullet points to emphasize important information.

The last part of the outline should recap the main points and provide a call to action. Typically, the call to action will direct readers to utilize the points you made to resolve the problem addressed at the beginning of the post.

Use an authoritative but conversational tone. This can be a challenge because authoritative articles are often impersonal and academic. An impersonal tone, though, can be off-putting and discourage social media sharing. Addressing the reader directly can add a personal touch without taking away from the authority of your message. Also, you can incorporate stories and anecdotes to help your audience identify with your content.

You can create a sense of authority by linking to reputable sources when appropriate. Wikipedia and user-generated content sites won't do - stick to well-known company websites, peer-reviewed journals, and .edu sites whenever possible. Reputable sources will lend credibility to the information you provide and position you as an authority in your niche.

Of course, not every piece of content you publish should be a pillar post. Repeat visitors want easily digestible articles and videos that require only a few minutes to read or watch. Still, well-crafted pillar posts can attract visitors that will become loyal audience members and potential customers.