SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do your believe your social media marketing efforts are more successful now than they were a year ago?

  • Yes 60.17%
  • Not sure 20.34%
  • No 19.49%

On first glance, this week’s poll results are great news. Congratulations to the more than 60% of you who feel you’re seeing better returns from social media this year. To the roughly 1-in-5 of your who are don’t think things are getting better; keep at it. Failure is an amazing teacher. You’re that much closer to learning what kinds of efforts work and which don’t.

And what about the people who aren’t sure? Well, first they should be congratulated for their honesty. It’s easy to assume you’re headed in the right direction based on anecdotal evidence or (even worse) a good feeling about your performance. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Compared with a year earlier, would you say you spend more, less or about the same amount of time using social networks as part of your job?

  • More 50.54%
  • About the same 23.37%
  • I don’t use social networks as part of my job 17.39%
  • Less 8.70%

One of the big misconceptions about social media marketing is that it is “free.” The fallacy comes from old media thinking, from an age when the largest expense involved in marketing was the medium that carried your message — billboards, print pages, seconds of radio or TV ad time. Social media flips the equation on its head. Now the medium is free — but the message costs more than ever. Even if you’re doing all your own marketing, the cost is still there in the form of your precious time. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do you feel comfortable sharing political opinions on social networks?

  • No 77.92%
  • Yes 22.08%

The question of whether your should share political opinions on social networks can be a heated debate in its own right. Some argue that social networks can be powerful agents of political change — just look at the Arab Spring — and that social tools can help highlight important news stories that might otherwise be ignored. Others might say that just because you have the ability to say whatever you want on a network doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good idea to share your every opinion with everyone you know.

There isn’t really a right answer here, but there are three aspects to this discussion that I think everyone should think about:

  1. Channel: Do you really want to have a charged political discussion with a distant relative in front of every last one of your Facebook friends?
  2. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do you post to any social networks using an identity other than your legal name or your company’s brand?

  • Never 63.92%
  • Sometimes 11.39%
  • Often 10.76%
  • Rarely 7.59%
  • Always 6.33%

More than a third of SmartBrief on Social Media readers aren’t always who they say they are. While about 64% of readers say they always post as themselves or as their brand, the remainder admit to either posting anonymously or using some other kind of identity. And you know what? That’s totally OK.

Every so often, I’ll read about a new social tool such as Duvamis that aims to add a layer of anonymity over the social experience, even as Facebook, Twitter and the other major networks collect more and more data. But this is not a new scenario. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do you follow your competitors on social media?

  • Yes 68.81%
  • No 30.28%
  • Not sure 0.92%

You might not realize it, but your competitors are doing a tremendous amount of market research on your behalf right now. By studying their social media presences, you can understand their market position, their appeal with customers and even their potential weaknesses. Following them can help you counter-program your own digital marketing content, learn from their mistakes and understand how better to differentiate your brand online. And if you catch your competitor fouling-up a customer service debacle, you can use that opportunity to poach customers for your brand.

Perhaps some of our readers are wary of following competitors so that they don’t appear to be influenced by these other brands. (read more…)