Melbourne small business blog

Content pillars for Instagram: 7 easy examples that are perfect for small business

Take the stress out of planning your social media with content pillars for Instagram that are perfect for both product and service-based small businesses.

If you’ve previously put social media marketing on the backburner because you found it time-consuming and difficult to come up with content ideas, then you’ll love the content pillar strategy. The initial investment of creating your pillars will reward you tenfold and make creating a social media plan that much easier.

These seven content pillars are going to provide you with a clear structure to easily brainstorm content ideas, post consistently and better serve your followers. Most of all, they’re guaranteed to save you time and stress!

Ready to create content pillars for Instagram? I got you.

What is the Content Pillar Social Media Strategy?

Whether you’re the type to schedule your posts or post them straight into Instagram, there’s undoubtedly come a time when you’ve run dry on ideas. Your posts are lacking consistency because the ideas aren’t flowing or because you’re posting similar content that’s an easy go-to.

Cue, content pillars. Content pillars for Instagram aren’t just for Instagram. They’re a basis for all of your social media content and will allow you to share the same or similar content across multiple platforms.

Content pillars are the 3-to 5 overarching ideas that your business talks about and promotes on social media. These ideas are broad. For example your workplace culture. The pillars are a mix of topics that allow people to get to know who you are, what you stand for and what you offer.

Underneath the content pillars, you then generate ideas that fall within that topic. For example under the topic of workplace culture you may regularly post about:

  • Employee benefits that you offer
  • Charities or causes you support
  • Your stance on issues such as parental leave and employee return to work
  • Pets that come into work if you have a pet-friendly office
  • How you stay connected with others when working as a freelancer

What are the benefits of creating content pillars for Instagram?

The pillars are the foundation of your strategy and the inspiration that you use to generate the sub-topics that you write and share specific content on. Remember these pillars don’t address how you create the content, or where you share it, they simply allow you to:

  • Generate ideas more easily
  • Lean into topics so you can create more than one post on an issue
  • Share a variety of topics so your account isn’t too heavily weighted on a singular topic
  • Allow you to plan out a content calendar in advance
  • Help you to identify the types of posts that perform well for you so you can create more of them
content pillars for instagram

Creating content pillars

The good news is when you’re creating content pillars for Instagram you don’t need to start from scratch. In fact, you, your business or your brand have probably organically already been doing these things. You just haven’t harnessed their power yet

Creating content is easiest when you utilise topics and issues that genuinely resonate with you. Forget what the others are doing and what might seem popular. This marketing strategy is about brainstorming and utilising what makes your business unique.

Ready for some content pillars for Instagram examples? Let’s go:

7 Content Pillars for Instagram

Content pillar strategy is based on having pillars or core ideas that your brand or business regularly post about. Before we get too deep into the strategy, let’s quickly go over the pillars.

  1. Education
  2. Trust
  3. Promotion
  4. Culture
  5. Blog Promotion
  6. Inspiration
  7. Motivation

Instagram Content Pillar Breakdown

When it comes to choosing content pillars for Instagram pick those that resonate most with you. They are after all going to be the foundation of your content strategy.

Education

When it comes to content ideas, educational content is in demand. In this pillar, you share content that teaches or educates your followers on a topic related to your business. For example:

  • Floristry business – educates customers on how to make their flowers last longer at home.
  • Social media marketer – shares a video on how to create a reel in Canva.
  • Plumber – creates a reel on what to do if your hot water system leaks and the plumber can’t come straight away.

By sharing tidbits of information that support your product or service, you become a resource that your followers get to know and trust. It gives them the opportunity to get the most out of your product or service and builds your reputation as a brand that knows its stuff.

Now, we’re not talking about giving away all of your secrets. It’s more like snippets of information that allow followers to ‘have a go’ at a new skill or make better use of your product or service.

Here’s an example of an educational post:

In this post, I’ve shared 6 content pillar ideas as a carousel. The post gives readers the content ideas and explanations on what topics they might write about under those pillars. For some readers, this is all they’ll need to create their own content pillars. Others may decide they would like their brand’s content pillars mapped out for them.

Either way, you’ll either have a follower that remembers your brand as they’re thankful for the useful information you’ve provided or a potential customer who wants what you’re sharing without the stress of doing it themselves.

Educational posts also encourage saves, which in 2022, are digital gold!

Trust

Ever bought something online and it wasn’t quite what you imagined? Yep, me too. With consumers turning online for much of their shopping, building trust in a digital world is incredibly important. This is why trust is one of the essential content pillars for Instagram.

Your audience wants to get to know you and trust you. Instagram is the perfect place to show your face online, but even if you’re a small business who don’t want to show their faces, there’s still plenty of ways to build trust with your audience. For example:

  • IT expert – shares a customer testimonial from a recent job they’ve completed.
  • Photographer – creates a reel highlighting what a client gallery looks like for a specific package.
  • Online retailer – shares behind the scenes footage of what happens when your order is placed.

Despite the desire to complete many of our transactions online, consumers are still seeking human connection and engagement from the brands that they buy from or are considering buying from.

Here’s an example of a post that builds trust:

In this post, I’ve leaned into a concept called ‘social proof’. Social proof is based on the idea we have about a person or a brand. Influencer marketing, in particular, the big players like the Kardashians are an excellent example of social proof. If Kylie says the lipstick is a must-have, you can guarantee it’ll sell out.

If Rachel says Compass Copywriting are reliable subcontractors, well it’s unlikely to garner the response that the Kardashians do, but it may just be the last piece in the puzzle when a client is deciding who to give their work to.

Promotion

When it comes to Instagram content pillars, promotion is not a dirty word. The reality is, that people, want to buy products and services. What they don’t like is promotions that are pushy or salesy.

The reality of business is that we do have a product or service to sell. And, our content strategy should allow for that. Implementing content pillars for Instagram means that you can cover a mix of topics to build affinity with your audience before sharing your current offer.

For example, you may like to warm up your feed with trust, workplace culture and behind the scenes content before scheduling a promotional post so your followers are warmed up to you and more receptive to what you have to offer.

Truthbomb – consumers have short attention spans and are far more interested in what’s in it for them, than what you’re excited about. Yikes, I know, it hurts. So keep promotional posts focused on the benefits and utilise a variety of media such as static posts, carousels and reels to boost engagement. Customers need up to 7 touchpoints before they’re ready to purchase, so be creative in getting your message across and make sure that it’s not the only focus of your account.

Ideas for promotional posts could include:

  • An electrician – sharing a government grant initiative that will save customers money on LED installation.
  • A business coach – creating a reel of them putting the finishing touches on their course with a call to action to join the mailing list to be the first to find out upon launch.
  • A dentist – sharing a carousel on a first check-up discount they’re offering with a code to enter online to access the discount.

Here’s an example of a promotional post:

In this post, I lean into my target audience’s pain point of not having enough time. It’s a topic almost every small business owner can relate to [myself included!].

The post uses relatable language and offers actionable suggestions as well as including an outline of how my business can support other overwhelmed small business owners. Finally, it includes a CTA (call to action) which encourages viewers to book a discovery call to find out more.

In fact, if you can relate and would like someone to come up with your content pillars for Instagram for you, you can book your own discovery call here too.

Culture

When it comes to content pillars for Instagram this is a fun one. No matter its size, every small business has its own unique culture. Whether it’s written in documents or comes across in your personality and beliefs, sharing your brand’s culture helps you to attract like-minded customers and remain in their minds.

Workplace culture can seem an overwhelming one to post about if you’re a freelancer or single person biz. Chances are you’ve not documented your thoughts on your workplace culture, but the great thing about this topic is you can have a little fun with it.

For example, you could:

  • Share a timelapse video of you working at home with kids if you’d like to talk about the work/life juggle
  • Create a hashtag for your pet that interrupts your day or sleeps on your feet
  • Discuss how you are using an electric vehicle to lessen your impact on the environment
  • Share a cause you support and open up a little as to why it’s important to you

Marketing for Instagram allows an element of fun and your audience will love getting to know you a little more.

Here’s an example of a workplace culture post:

Starting a new business, a new year or even a new month is a great place to intentionally talk about your workplace culture. This post sets the tone for how Compass Copywriting got its name and how that name embodies my goal to partner with small businesses and follow through with great service that helps them be successful.

This post uses humour about my last name being a dime a dozen, which would be relatable for many in their own quest to create an online presence for their business! Content pillars for Instagram that let you have a little fun – yes, please!

Blog promotion

If you’ve got a blog, you’ve already got an incredible bank of content just waiting to be repurposed on social media. In fact, it’s one of the easiest content pillars for Instagram if you want to build authority and credibility in your field.

Your content strategy should include shorter and long-form posts, however, the reality is a blog can delve into far more detail and command a longer period of attention than SM content.

In fact, you’re here today because part of my content strategy is blogging and this first post will certainly be featured in small, bite-sized snippets on my social media in the coming months.

When sharing blog content on your social media you can:

  • Share a graphic quote of one of the points your blog raises
  • Create a reel that demonstrates a skill or technique your blog talks about
  • Ask a question about your blog and run a poll to gather people’s opinions or interest in that topic (for example I could create a story asking ‘Do you know what a content pillar is?’ and then in a few day’s time post a link to the blog once I’ve gathered interest in the topic
  • Share an unpopular opinion in support or against your blog topic and ask your audience to discuss

Inspiration

A little (well a lot) of the reason that people engage in Instagram is aspirational. Perhaps they want to throw a child’s birthday party that their friends will be in awe of, or they want similar financial success to a business in their niche.

This leads to our second last content pillar for Instagram – Inspiration. Inspiration can come in many forms. For you this may look like this:

  • A motivational quote and story to personalise what that quote means for you or your audience
  • Going live to inspire people in your group or course to keep up with the content
  • Creating educational content so people can better use your product (for example a cake maker demonstrating how to use a piping nozzle)
  • A mental health note that promotes a work-life balance

Here’s an example of an inspirational post

Short and sweet, this post was timed for a Monday morning when my audience was just getting started for the week and could relate to the need for coffee to fuel their day.

Utilise inspiration as one of your content pillars for Instagram to share a joke, meme or quote. The options are endless.

Motivation

Motivation is one of the content pillars for Instagram that works equally well for service and product-based businesses. Whether you want your audience to commit to turning up online to participate in a challenge or they need a little help to stay committed through the ebbs and flows of life, motivation is the pillar for it.

Similar to inspiration, motivation is a little more personal. It speaks more directly to your audience. It addresses their pain points and motivates them to keep showing up and persevere. Motivational posts could look like this:

  • A fitness coach – going live to inspire their mentoring group of a morning
  • A business coach – providing a piece of advice and a promise to check in with those who comment during the week
  • A freelancer – posting a meme about ‘hanging in there’ on a Monday afternoon

Here’s an example of a motivational post:

If you like to share more personal stories then this is one of the best content pillars for Instagram. In this post, I shared a personal story of hiking in Nepal with a torn PCL.

I then applied the story to my work and business life and asked others to share what motivates them each day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many content pillars should you have on Instagram

When it comes to content pillars for Instagram, 3 to 5 different pillars are recommended. This allows you to post on a breadth of topics, whilst giving your audience an idea of what they can expect from you.

Too many topics can be hard to create enough content and also means that the time between posts shared on that topic could be quite wide apart. This could make your account appear inconsistent and not attract the right followers.

It might be hard to whittle down to just 5 content pillars for Instagram, but once you start brainstorming content ideas under these pillars, believe me, it’ll be enough.

Is content repurposing a part of the content pillar strategy

If you want to save time and create more with less, then you’ll be happy to know that content repurposing is part of the content pillar strategy.

When you utilise content pillars to create your topics it gives you great insight into content ideas that could work in various media. For example, if you like to post educational posts about lunchbox ideas for children you could use this knowledge to repurpose a post about the importance of packing a healthy lunch into:

  • A quote about the importance of a healthy lunchbox
  • A carousel walkthrough of the healthy lunch box
  • A stop motion video of you packing the healthy lunchbox
  • A poll about the challenges your audience face when serving their child a healthy lunch

Are content pillars just for Instagram?

Yes, the content pillars for Instagram can be across all of your social media platforms. And, just like you’d expect a Big Mac to taste the same in LA as in Melbourne, your audience like to know what to expect from you, regardless of the platform.

And whilst you may need to tweak your content a little to hit the mark when sharing across platforms such as Linked In or Tik Tok, you can utilise the same content idea that falls under the same content pillar, just with a slightly altered copy or media.

Creating content pillars

Once you’ve selected the 3 to 5 content pillars that resonate with you, it’s time to start brainstorming the sub-topics that will sit in each pillar. You can do this by:

  • Auditing existing content to see what has worked so far
  • Check out your competition to get a feel for what’s topical and popular in your niche
  • Runnings polls to ask your audience what they’d like to see
  • Run a brainstorming session with your staff

Remember this part of creating content pillars for Instagram isn’t about creating specific posts or post ideas, it’s about generating topics that relate to your main pillars. Here’s an example of what the content pillars for Instagram might look like for a florist:

The content pillars for Instagram chosen here are – Educate, Culture, Trust, Promotion and Inspiration. Underneath each of these pillar ideas are sub-ideas that can then be used to create multiple pieces of content.

To get you started, I’ve created an editable content pillar template that you can use to record your pillar and sub-topic ideas. Click on the image below to be taken to Canva where you can make a copy of this template and use it as your own.

Are you ready to get started creating content pillars for Instagram? Let me know in the comments below.