the inverted content pyramid—a content creation strategy
I’ve worked in media since I was fifteen-years-old and one thing that never gets easier is the ideation process. I’ve found that there are truly days where my brain is spitting fire, coming up with a deluge of ideas, one after the other. And then there are days where I’m staring at the screen, mouth agape, wondering how long I’ve been in that same position with only the status of my playlist as a way for me to tell the passage of time.
When it comes to content strategy, things like algorithms, best practices, and ideal release times have to be juggled with the full knowledge that we aren’t always “on” and ready to create. Using a trauma-informed approach to content creation, I understand that there are days when you just cannot and we have to find ways to work around that.
That’s where the inverted content pyramid comes in. No, it’s not an MLM disguised as a strategy! It’s a concept I use to simplify the content creation process. I thought of this strategy because back in my days of journalism school, we talked about the inverted story pyramid—putting the lead and most juicy info at the top of a news story, and using the rest of the body for additional, less pressing information. This methodology had a different purpose; its goal was to hook the reader and provide the most valuable information at the top because we acknowledged that the reader often had a short attention span, not making it to the bottom of an article or end of a broadcast segment. If you used the inverted pyramid, your viewer, reader, or listener would still walk away with the most essential part of the news.
Using this process, but optimizing it for the attention span of the creator, I came up with the inverted content pyramid. And I say “came up with” very loosely because there are 7 billion people on this planet, I know someone else somewhere has to be doing this exact technique with possibly the same or a different name. But regardless, the inverted content pyramid was born.
So how do you use this content strategy? It’s simple—you analyze whatever type of creator you are and use your largest piece of content as the outline for the rest. The intention of this strategy is to ease the process of coming up with new types of content. Let’s use a sample senario so I can break it down for you.
In this example, you’re a YouTuber. You put out new videos every single week on YouTube and you’re comfortable with that content schedule. Your main video publishes every Monday and you know you need to promote it on your other social channels—your website, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. But beyond the concept of straight promoing your video, i.e. “new video is live!”, you constantly get stuck on the content in between. Your filler content, let’s say, is less than your ideal.
Without the inverted content pyramid, your posting schedule might look like this:
- Main video: 10 thrifted y2k fall themed outfits
- Vlog video: Come thrift with me! (an hour session at World Thrift, plus your day leading up to it)
- Promo main video on IG feed with an outfit post
- Promo vlog on IG feed with pic of iced coffee (screengrab from the video)
- TikTok timelapse of outfit try ons
- YouTube thumbnail as promo of main video shared on Pinterest (links to video)
It gets the job done, there is nothing wrong with that content strategy, but it’s minimal and your posts in between those promo posts might feel out of place or feel like you’re trying too hard.
Using the inverted content pyramid, your content schedule just from this one main channel video might look something like this:
|Week 1||IGF: Outfit 1||YT: Main video LIVE|
TT: Transition video of outfits
IGS: Promo new vid w/ swipe up
|IGF: Outfit 2|
TT: Haul from main video
|TT: Ice Coffee tutorial from vlog (CTA)|
YT: Vlog LIVE
IGS: Promo haul w/ swipe up
|IGF: Outfit 3||Blog: Transcription of Main video w/ outfits (video at the bottom)|
P: Blog promo with outfit photo
IGS: Promo blog subscription w/ swipe up
|IGF: Outfit 4|
|Week 2||IGF: Outfit 5|
IGTV: Main video pt. 1
|Blog: How to shop Y2K trends at thrift stores|
IGTV: Main video pt. 2
|REELS: Transition video of outfits|
IGF: Outfit 6
|REELS: Haul from main video||IGF: Outfit 7||REELS: Ice Coffee tutorial from vlog (CTA)|
|Week 3||IGF: Outfit 8||IGS: Celeb inspo of Y2K looks from main video||IGF: Outfit 9||P: Celeb inspo of Y2K looks from main video||IGF: Outfit 10||IGS: Poll of favorite outfits (this or that)|
|Key||YT = YouTube||IGF = Instagram Feed||IGS = Instagram Story||TT = TikTok||P = Pinterest||CTA = Call to action|
This may look overwhelming because it is a lot of published content, and if it feels that way to you, that’s valid and this method may not be a good fit. But I believe this style is a great option for those who would rather invest a bit more time upfront, and have more freedom throughout the rest of their daily schedule. You would have one main day of filming that would result in approximately three weeks worth of content across 8 or so different platforms, depending on how you want to lump together Instagram.
There’s a good chance that only a small, dedicated audience follows you on every single platform. Most people follow you based on the format style of their preference. Maybe they prefer smaller, bite-sized content so they only follow you on TikTok. There’s no reason they should be missing out on this video just because they only follow you there, not on YouTube. Additionally, we are always fighting the algorithm, especially on Facebook owned platforms like Instagram. It’s important to acknowledge that right now as this is being published, Reels algorithmically get priority, so you cannot rely on one type of Instagram content to reach your whole audience on that platform.
The goal of this inverted content pyramid isn’t to stuff your content calendar to the brim, as you can see there are several days without posts on specific platforms. The goal is however, to take your biggest piece of content, the main video in this example, and break that down into multiple posts across multiple platforms, maximizing your effort. Those empty days on that content calendar can be left empty, get filled with more creative and fun posts that you come up with on the spot, or they will also likely to be filled up by the next big piece of content you create and its subsequent smaller posts.
Using this method, you’re likely to have a full content calendar always, even sometimes having a surplus of content. If that’s the case, you want to bank your most evergreen content, a.k.a. content that is not time sensitive. In this example, the outfit IGF posts would be more evergreen and could be spread out across the fall season, since that’s what they pertain to. This gives the lifecycle of these posts a good 3 months, allowing you to span them out much further into the future if necessary. This is helpful if you know you’re going to take a break creating content, so it’s always great to have a content bank of evergreen material.
This strategy is just one option. It may not be the best for you if you’re not the type of person who likes to plan in advance, and that’s totally okay! Not everyone likes to schedule their content and understanding your preferred style of work is essential to optimizing your strategy. But if you’ve never thought of this concept before, I hope seeing it laid out on a table like this allows you to conceptualize how you can optimize your hours creating content to reach their maximum value for the widest audience possible.
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