There’s a bevy of information out there about how to grow your company online, but what actually works? Which methods do experts turn to in order to fuel their growth? We have the answers. These twenty social media and SEO tips will help you grow your business online using content and the tools at your disposal.

Number 1: Social Media and SEO Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Before we move into specific tactics, it’s important to realize that these two marketing tools work together to build your brand. When you Google a company or individual, their social profiles are some of the first results to appear.

Take advantage of these website’s rankings by posting multiple times a week on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, if it makes sense for your brand.

That’s not the only benefit, though. When using an inbound marketing strategy, it’s essential to distribute your website’s content on social media using growth techniques. Post blog posts, product updates, and other information on your website, and share those links on your social profiles.

Number 2: Integrate Your Marketing Strategies

By properly integrating your social media and SEO plans with other strategies, you can create a cohesive online presence. To create your integrated marketing strategy, plan out the core messaging, determine the blogs, videos, and photos that need to be created, and where you’ll share it. Social media is a great avenue, but email newsletters are valuable as well.

Email addresses offer direct access to your current and prospective customers. Use lead magnets to grow your email list while providing value to the prospect, and send regular newsletters to keep in contact with your subscribers.

Your social media presence is one small piece of your overall strategy, and by diversifying you won’t be rushing to grow an audience when one platform changes.

Number 3: Create Platform-Specific Content

While it’s possible to share the same blog post on both Facebook and Twitter, there are different requirements for each platform. The primary difference is that Facebook allows longer captions. Even with the character limit increase on Twitter earlier this year, you’re working with greater restraints. Use Twitter cards with concise captions to capitalize on the platform’s quirks.

As Carla Swank Fox, a marketing consultant and Adjunct Professor at Middle Tennessee State University describes, “One of the biggest false steps that many brands — including small businesses — make when it comes to social media is simply replicating the same message across channels.

“Each social platform has a different audience, which in turn means that the messaging should be adjusted accordingly… Know and understand your audience and then create content that is appropriate for the platform you’re using.”

Customize to the platform, and you’ll begin to see greater engagement and overall success.

Number 4: Diversify Your Marketing Tools

A successful marketing strategy rests on your strengths, not your weaknesses. If you have great photography but can only post one blog a month, focus your efforts on Instagram and have Facebook and Twitter as a supplement. Choose your marketing techniques to fuel your social growth in a way that works for you, not the company down the street.

There’s a secondary benefit to diversifying: social media loves to change. If you rely on only one platform, it will be hard to recover from a sudden change. This can be deadly to small companies with limited resources.

Number 5: Maximize Your Owned Space Online

Your website is “owned” space, whereas social media platforms are “rented” space. Your website won’t change its algorithm or require an investment in a paid advertising strategy. Blog regularly, keep your Services and About pages updated, and link back whenever possible.

Using inbound marketing tactics can help improve website traffic while also reaching potential customers. You need to be in it for an extended time, though. As Neil Patel shares, it’s not going to be an overnight success story. “[The] truth is, it takes resourcefulness, dedication, persistence, and creativity. This is especially true because of the constantly-changing nature of Google’s algorithm.”

Number 6: Adaptation Keeps Your Brand Alive

Are you still on MySpace? That’s not as silly of a question as you may think. Social media is an ever-changing world, and a time may come when maintaining your Facebook page isn’t a priority. By adapting to what is working for your brand, whether it’s new websites or different types of content, you can continue to grow your company through industry shifts.

The better we adapt to these changes, the better we’re able to reach the ideal consumer through the right content at the right time.

Number 7: Take Advantage of Free Marketing Tools

There are an incredible number of free SEO tools available to business owners. More important than using them though, is choosing the right ones.

The best free tool we recommend for improving your local SEO? Google My Business. “Google My Business should be a focal point for any small business,” explains Mindy Weinstein, Founder and President at Market Mindshift, “It’s free, easy to update, and can make a big impact.”

Maximize your profile by including services, your history, and up to date hours and contact info. This information is then shared throughout Google’s suite of products, helping improve your visibility.

Number 8: Invest in the Right Paid Marketing Tools

We love grassroots marketing, but choosing the right paid media tools can help your company expedite its growth. A keyword research tool, for example, can help you determine the best keywords to focus on for your SEO strategy.

Other paid tools include scheduling tools, design apps, and email marketing. A social media scheduling tool is a time saver for companies with small teams, helping you efficiently schedule a month’s worth of content. We recommend Buffer and Hootsuite. Canva’s paid subscription offers effortless image resizing and team functionality, and offers quality templates.

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing tools, and while they offer a free account, their paid platform removes their branding on emails and offers additional functionality.

Not all paid tools are worth it, but investing in the right ones can support your brand’s digital growth.

Number 9: The Long-Term Path Offers Better Results

Don’t resort to black hat SEO or social media tactics to get immediate growth. These will often have a negative impact on your presence, especially as algorithms are improving. Focus on blending SEO and social media into a cohesive strategy with great content and true connection at its core.

As Jessica Carmack, a Director of Digital Marketing, describes, “It’s no longer enough just to show up organically on the first page of Google. You can’t just do SEO and you can’t just do social. It’s definitely a balancing act and it takes both.”

Don’t invest all your time into one, just to see the other begin to decline. If you need to reduce the level of content in order to raise your overall level of quality, then do it.

Number 10: Marketing Requires Real Connections

The best brands are those steeped in authenticity. Jessica continues, “We are marketing to educated consumers… Consumers can smell inauthentic marketing jargon from a mile away. It’s the culture we live in. If something feels or sounds like a generic hard sell, consumers don’t want it.”

Don’t always move right to the hard sell. Include lifestyle content each week, disperse soft call-to-actions with hard sells, and remember: marketing is about relationships, not clicks.

Number 11: Invest in the Imagery

Social media is visual, which means it’s essential to invest in high-quality photography. Hire a photographer to take product photos and lifestyle photos with your product in the scene for your website and social media.

You’re not exempt if you have a service instead of a product! Investing in high-quality stock photography as well as photos of your team and office can help improve your brand online.

Number 12: Become a Student of the Industry

What may help fuel your social growth this quarter may not work the next. Become a student of the industry so you can help your team continue to achieve their goals. It could be investing in Google’s Ad Certification program to maximize your spend, or simply following the right people on Twitter for industry updates.

When you continue to educate yourself on the best blog length for SEO performance or hashtag use on Instagram, your brand will continue to grow.

Number 13: Planning Content Is Your Secret Weapon

Similar to coordinating messaging across platforms, planning your content a month in advance will eliminate confusion and keep you focused. Take your business goals, like a product launch or a service focus, and build your content off of that.

Now, not every post should be about your focus, because that’s a surefire way to alienate your followers. But by planning in advance, you can weave in this priority messaging with lifestyle content to keep followers engaged across social media, your website, and email newsletters.

Number 14: Support SEO with Inbound Marketing Techniques

Inbound marketing may sound like a buzzword, but it works! The focus on creating quality content over sales-only messaging helps maximize relationships and grow companies, primarily through SEO.

Use your keyword research to find what your potential customers are looking for, then answer common industry questions in each piece of content. This strategy will help improve your search engine rankings over time, resulting in greater sales and improved visibility online.

Number 15: Think Beyond Blogging for SEO

It’s time to exercise your team’s creativity. Mike Volpe, former CMO at Hubspot, shares the key to great content: “Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with your marketing.” While blogging is a popular choice for many companies looking to grow online, there are more options that could be a better fit.

Short videos posted on YouTube and Facebook and embedded on your website can improve your social growth while offering an engaging way to connect with potential customers. Podcasting is still a valuable way to invest in your social growth, even with its explosive growth. Sharing your unique take on the industry on platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts increases your brand’s exposure.

Number 16: Implement a Paid Media Budget

Paid media is one of the best things to happen to small business marketing. Instead of investing in print or radio advertising with limited tracking, paid media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest can supplement an existing content strategy to reach more potential customers.

From top of the funnel ads building brand awareness to lead ads directed at people who have visited your website, use your budget strategically for best results.

Lookalike audiences are your secret weapon.

As Nick Tubis, CMO at TSD Global, explains, “A lookalike audience almost always works better than an interest-based target because you can target people who are very similar to your current customer base.” Using all the tools available will help you better manage your budget.

Number 17: Your Content Isn’t About You

This is important: your content needs to meet the needs of your audience. Meeting your audience’s needs will meet your own needs of growing your company. “Content marketing is the gap between what brands produce and what consumers actually want,” explains Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group.

When this is your guiding light, you’ll experience better engagement, more conversions, and overall growth.

Number 18: Perform Quarterly Content Audits

Quarterly content audits will keep you on the top, especially in this ever-changing world of digital marketing. Distance yourself from your bias as much as possible, and bring in advisors or colleagues to offer an outside point of view.

Look at every piece of content and their performance to see what your audience prefers. Look at your social growth across profiles, looking for the best-performing posts and what sets them apart.

This is also the time to ask if you have the foundation you need to achieve the social growth you want.

Jennifer Pepper, Marketing Manager at Unbounce, shares, “Ask yourself: ‘Have we covered the fundamentals?’ And second to that: ‘Are they the best experience on the internet for those things?’”

When you look at the foundation and how your marketing strategy is built, you can find weaknesses and adapt to industry changes.

Number 19: Be an Optimistic Realist

Social growth, done the right way, doesn’t happen in a month. It requires consistent effort and at times strategy changes to reach the right audience and grow your business. By focusing on great content (whatever its form), regular posting, and updated strategies based on industry changes, you can reach your goals.

Celebrate the victories, big and small. It’s important to remember how growth can be slow, but when you’re marketing well growth will come.

Number 20: Know When to Outsource Your Marketing

A comprehensive marketing strategy is time consuming, and can easily take over your week. When your marketing efforts begin to interfere with your other necessary tasks, it’s time to consider outsourcing your marketing efforts. Finding the right agency requires insight into your priorities, strengths, and weaknesses.

If your team can handle scheduling social media posts but needs help with content creation, then look for an agency experienced in images, blogging, and any other content you’re prioritizing. If you’re looking to work with a full-service agency who can take over all marketing-related tasks and guide your strategy, look for an agency with diverse skills that’s focused on adapting to industry changes.

Social growth is more than posting on Instagram or Twitter and hoping someone sees it. The better you can organize content, create a distribution strategy, and pivot based on results, the faster your company will growth online. Integrating social media and SEO techniques will take time, but it’s one of the surest ways to grow your company. If you’re in it for the long run, you’re far more likely to win.