We are excited to launch the new vision report for our social marketing playbook. It might be controversial, but we are here to give companies permission to break up with social media. Yes, you read that right.

Social media is a quagmire, and marketers contributed to the mess. Companies are the party crashers that social users never invited and are often clueless about what consumers want on social networks. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics reveals that only 24% of US online adults agree that it’s cool to be associated with a company/brand on social media. And 68% don’t agree that brands/companies share interesting content on social media.

Companies are overzealous in using social media at every possible entry point. Social media is a unique, mini ecosystem that touches all six stages of the customer lifecycle (see figure). Companies have moved beyond basic “reach and engagement” goals and now try to leverage social media in all facets, from social ads to influencers to buying/commerce to customer service to organic publishing — even when unwarranted.

Consumers will ultimately lead the conversation and define brands on social media. Companies need to chill on pushing out content on social media. It’s more important to gather insights by listening to consumers on social media. Listening can happen through traditional monitoring but also via social customer service, communities, ratings and reviews, and user-generated content feedback.

It’s OK to walk away from social media. For marketers who can’t prove social media efficacy or feel that social networks’ decisions conflict with their own brand principles, feel free to pull the rip cord. Companies must stand by their corporate values rather than fall on their social media sword. Don’t forget that marketers — and specifically, advertisers — hold the purse strings and have the power to stand up to the social networks when they misstep or when they don’t provide helpful measurement solutions from inside their walled gardens.