Using The Whole Buffalo: The Importance of Pillar Content

When it comes to building a business online, content creation is one of the most important and challenging parts of the process. With so many platforms to engage with audiences, business owners need to have a steady stream of content to fuel marketing campaigns and keep social media accounts active. It isn’t enough to just talk about your business and link to your products: you need to provide engaging content that can maintain the interest of your audiences and draw in new customers. 

The challenge is that making enough wholly unique content to keep your social media accounts going can be time-consuming, and one thing that entrepreneurs often lack is time.  In order to combat this, content creators need to be smart about how they develop content for their business. After all, while they can choose to create all of their content from scratch, the better and efficient method is to create pillar content that can serve as the basis for lots of different content down the line. 

What Is Pillar Content? 

Pillar content, sometimes referred to as cornerstone or flagship content, refers to large and substantial pieces of content that often provide in-depth information on a specific topic. This can take a variety of different forms, including eBooks, guides, and workshops, but the main point is that it is dense with information and touches on something of importance to your audience. From there, this large piece of content can be broken up into several smaller derivative pieces and materials, including blog posts, short videos, social media updates, infographics, and more. 

This method operates under the idea of “using the whole buffalo,” an expression referring to how Native Americans of the plains were said to make use of every part of a buffalo they had killed in order to make the most of their resources. Similarly, when you create pillar content, you aren’t simply saying one piece of content that you share one time. Instead, you create a large piece of content, then “carve it up” into several smaller pieces of content that can be used across different platforms over a longer period of time. This method is a more efficient and effective way to create worthwhile content for your audiences, as smaller pieces of content can be tailored to specific platforms and audience interests. 

Why Is Pillar Content Important? 

There are many reasons to implement pillar content in your overall content strategy. For one thing, they often serve valuable content for your main website, providing value to visitors while improving your overall SEO. Pillar content often provides a thorough overview of a topic of relevance for your target audience, and if you effectively utilize keywords and answer the sort of questions that said audience is looking for, then you stand to rank higher among search results. This also serves as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and show potential customers that you are knowledgeable of your field. All of this goes a long way towards building customer interest and loyalty. 

Additionally, the depth of content included means that you can tap into various parts of your pillar content for additional smaller content that you can utilize across other platforms and social media channels. This is especially important because a piece of content that works on one platform might not be as engaging in a different platform. For instance, social media like Twitter and Instagram are tailored towards shorter and more visual-based content, so a link to a lengthy article that’s thousands of words long might not go over well.

However, you can instead post an infographic from the article or an image that highlights a notable quote from it. If you have a held workshop on a topic, consider making a short promotional video using footage from it, or highlight a short snippet of the workshop that stands on its own. No matter what content you are creating, you should be considering how it can be used across multiple platforms, and if you embrace this mindset, it is easier to naturally work these smaller pieces into the larger whole of your pillar content. 

Content creation is always going to be a challenge, but by embracing the “use the whole buffalo” mentality, you can save yourself time and effort by making the most of the high-quality content you already have. By building strong pillar content, you can create major draws for your website while laying the foundations for several other pieces of content across your chosen social media platforms. All of this can add up to weeks of content tailored to your various audiences, ensuring your content strategy meets the best possible standards of efficiency and effectiveness.

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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