Content Ladders: How To Build Them Into Your Social Media Channels

  • June 21, 2021
  • Fran Stephenson
  • 5 min read

What is a Content Ladder?

A content ladder is our way of thinking about building expertise around a topic or content theme.  We use them formally and informally with a lot of our clients to take advantage of the repetitive nature of social media and to increase the shelf life of certain types of content. It’s taking that topic and repeatedly sharing around that topic on all your channels. 

If this seems kind of vague, stick with us and we’ll give you an example.

The Elements of a Content Ladder

The content on your channels includes three layers or rungs.  You probably have all these in your current content strategy, but think about these against your own system to see where you land. Content Ladders have three layers.

The Base Layer

This includes evergreen content, mission and purpose messages, employees, brand identification and are rarely time sensitive.  They can be moved around to meet the needs of the other two layers. This layer usually answers the questions of WHO WE ARE as a brand or organization.  

The Campaign Layer

The campaign layer is more timely.  It includes events and celebrations, news about the organization, your media clips.  They are generally things that are important and timely but may reflect the longer story of your organization, like a capital campaign or fundraising. This layer usually answers the question of WHAT WE DO as a brand or organization.

The Live Layer

The live layer features interruptions to regular programming and while they may not all be traditionally live**, they are the concentrated effort to make your audience STOP SCROLLING AND LOOK! They are moments to try and own a celebration, event or harness a news event or campaign.

**Note: when we say “live” we mean same day, same hour, or in near real time.  We work with a number of brands who require an extra level of screening for appropriateness before going live, so we have a process for that. 

How Do I Build a Content Ladder?

Before we go into an example of how we built a content ladder, it’s important to note that these are not quick fixes for you if you don’t already have a robust content strategy. This is a way of thinking over time about types of conversations you want to “own” on your channels. Content ladders take time to build, so the example we’ll give next took us more than 6 months to fill out.

Content Ladder Example

Here is an example of how we built a content ladder for Step In Communication, based around our experience in working with influencers and more specifically, the topic of disclosure during paid influencer campaigns.  You will see links to some, but not ALL of the elements of the content ladder which can be easily seen.

The Elements of Our Content Ladder on Disclosure (this will be a bulleted list in the blog post)

  • In 2019, we wrote a comprehensive blog post on disclosure for brands. See the post.  
  • Then we posted in social media channels to promote the post.
  • We updated the post when the disclosure law changed and featured it in our email newsletter with the story and link. 
  • We added the post as part of the elements of an online course we developed.
  • We linked to the blog post again in a tips video we created on Facebook and YouTube.
  • Hosted a Clubhouse Room with an influencer on working with brands (link to Lunch Bunch room)

Some other things you could do to expand the content ladder further:

  • Create a “How To” checklist on the topic
  • Create quote graphics or testimonials from the blog post
  • Make it a blog download and promote that in social
  • Create a lead magnet for building your list or marketing other services  
  • Or add to course materials, seminar or workshop curriculum

How to Get Started Building a Content Ladder for YOUR Business

Don’t be intimidated by the number of items on the list above.  While we started in 2019 with our key blog post (which we have updated and are still using), we added elements just a month ago, so it’s been eighteen months of adding elements one at a time.

And in that time, our content ladder has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, the website, email, online course, YouTube and Clubhouse.  What started out as a signature blog post has become a recurring theme and anchors a significant amount of content for our business.  It has also covered all three layers.  The base layer are periodic promotions of the post itself. We’ve used the campaign layer in promoting our online course periodically. The live layer has been used to talk about a timely disclosure topic with videos or live streaming audio.

We’d love to hear your questions about building content ladders or an example of a content ladder you’re starting for your business. Tell us about it! (email link?)

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