We recently attended a CIPR North West event in Manchester, at which Asda’s corporate comms chief Dominic Burch gave a talk on social media.

Apart from giving the Outwrite team an excuse to hit the trendy Northern Quarter’s Blackdog Ballroom (on a school night!), Dominic’s presentation offered an interesting insight into how the big supermarkets are using sites like Twitter and Facebook as a media and customer relations tool.

Back at Outwrite HQ in sunny Mold, the talk got us thinking. Always a dangerous sign.

In many ways, as we all know, the ways in which business-to-business companies and large consumer-facing giants like Asda use social media are completely different.

An owner-managed business in rural North Wales naturally has completely different aims in mind when setting up a Twitter account or Facebook page to a supermarket used by millions of people every week.

In many ways the challenge is much greater for small B2B companies. They have to be much more creative when it comes to giving people a reason to follow or ‘like’ them.

However, as Dominic’s talk demonstrated, the route to achieving a strong online following is much the same whether you’re a multi-billion pound corporate behemoth or a one-man band setting up your own business.

Some key points, whatever your budget or ambitions, include:

  • Be authentic. One of the great things about social media is that it can present the human face of your business. Adopt a natural, informal and conversational tone
  • Avoid overt sales pitches. Social media users hate this. Rather, engage in conversation with fellow users in order to build a following
  • Use trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try different things (within reason!)