Here's a fascinating little tidbit from the long-running Local Commerce Monitor from BIA/Kelsey: SMB usage of Twitter for advertising/promotion has gone up considerably over the past two years, from 16% of SMBs in 2011 to 24% this year. Now, that in itself is not surprising, but what I found remarkable was the perceived ROI of those efforts over that same period.
In 2011, 6% of SMBs using Twitter for advertising perceived an "extraordinary (20x+)" return on those efforts. In 2013, that figure doubled to 12%. The percentage of SMBs perceiving "Excellent (10-19x)" return also increased sharply, from 11% to 19%.
I'm not sure what exactly is happening here, since the measure is perceived ROI and not actual ROI. That said, perceived ROI is a completely legitimate thing to measure, in that it is a measure of trust in the platform. The data are conclusive--SMB usage of Twitter for advertising and promotion is growing, and so too is confidence in the channel.
It interests me that the "later" adopters (though "late" is too premature a tag) are seeing more success than did the earlier adopters, who presumably starting using Twitter in more experimental times. Is the platform becoming a better tool for SMB advertisers? Maybe, but it might also simply be that more and more talented advertisers and marketers are making use of Twitter, and their talents are translating to the platform.
We are a long way from saying Twitter has matured as an advertising platform, believe me. But we are clearly moving from the days of "First!" to a time when more and more skill will be required for successful advertising efforts, because SMBs are clearly flocking to Twitter.