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There are more than a few theories on effective execution of B2B social marketing strategy. What’s right for you requires understanding your business objectives and the level of influence you have with customers, prospects, media and other stakeholders within your industry. The one constant is that launching your own social media program is similar to a message-in-a-bottle. You can choose the message, the type of bottle, where you’ll place it and even who has access, but the current will take it where it wants to go.

To test the waters, working with and through existing social channels offers a less risky alternative to launching your own program. This starts by identifying groups that are focused on your target markets and becoming a source of content and conversation. Linked In and Yahoo Groups, for example, offer a good way to build an audience and your credibility, while maintaining your ability to back away if necessary.

This measured approached to social networking allows you to get your feet wet and discover the level of investment your willing to make. What few people and companies realize when first getting started is the amount of time and energy that goes into managing a social marketing strategy. To succeed, you need to be diligent and consistent in your participation. This includes responding to inquiries when they arise, leading conversations in the direction they want to go and knowing when to just sit back and say nothing. To extend my earlier analogy, you need to become the current to move the conversation in the direction you want it to go.

Once you have successfully built your credibility and gained a firm understanding of the commitment, how you choose to build your own social network and platform will once again depend on your unique business requirements. The advantage you’ll have now, is the ability to significantly reduce your risk of failure and the potential social media backlash that could result from a false start.