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390012994_ec2ac8653d_zBusiness without a vision is like a car without a driver.  So what is the goal of social business? Of social marketing? Of social communications?

How do your measure your success? Are your metrics reflective of your goals and objectives?

Let's put it this way: if your benchmark report card is about growth in "reads" and "shares" without service of a greater goal, you're missing the point.

Over the past five years I have asked the questions above to dozens of brand and agency marketers. Most were still in the process of putting the pieces together. Year after year, businesses continue to invest in building platforms with little thought towards big picture or long term vision. Social was thought to best be left to organic progression rather than engineered towards a greater vision. While flexibility and capitalizing organic opportunities are core elements to social, relying on them as a mission or vision is nothing short of laziness.

The point of social is not to grow social, or to grow your business. It is to find the synthesis between the two in a living, breathing new organism. Smart communicators are designing and shaping this new organism into something remarkable. An alarming number of marketers however, are creating childish frank-communities driven by short term business objectives, campaigns, promotions and growth for the sake of growth.

When management lacks a vision, the troops on the ground are left to ramble in pursuit of tactics. When speaking with community managers, a remarkable number of them have been unable to clearly and succinctly explain their business objectives or bigger vision for the platforms they are tasked with managing. They viewed their job as engaging the community or coordinating content publication. We can do better than line cooks. We owe it to them. We owe it to our communities

Social needs to be greater than tactics in pursuit of a strategy.

Otherwise, communities will view marketers as nothing more than a series of tactics.

As long as social marketing continues to be about the campaign, the community will continue to view their relationship with the brand on those terms. Meaningful, sustainable relationships must be built on something greater than this year's branding campaign or product launch. Conversations must be about more than product news, social promotions and the banalities or "what are you doing this weekend"?

Great communicators make you believe. They make you want to belong. They invite and enable contribution. They build momentum. All in service of a vision, a roadmap. The road doesn't lead to a destination, it leads to a milestone, a marker along a broader journey. Because great movements don't die.

Your fan numbers, engagement rates, share numbers, view numbers, comment numbers, follower numbers, sentiment scores and category indeces are all great metrics. But you are not in business to generate "reads" or "shares". These are signs that you are doing something right (or wrong), but should not be your end goal.

If you haven't yet, build your social vision based on your ideal cultural vision. Think less communications objectives and more mission statement. Elevate your dialogue by working towards that cultural objective, that bigger story. Set your campaigns up as stepping stones towards a greater vision. Your posts are small steps in a greater journey. It's fine to talk about the mundane, but don't forget the sublime. Think less marketing and more religion.

Tell me what you are really about, and I may just buy in.