Moms Clean Air Force faced a daunting task. The organization wanted to harness the power of mothers throughout the United States to advocate for clean air to local, state and federal governments.

Why mothers?

The group knew that unclean air—whether in homes, schools, or outside—causes disproportionate health hazards to children.

Moms Clean Air Force logoHarnessing a crack editorial and social media team, the organization received funding from the Environmental Defense Fund and many celebrity endorsements.

Digital Director Shaun Dakin knew early on that the group would have to advertise in addition to reaching beyond traditional editorial channels. A skilled marketer in the public-private sector, Dakin also knew that stories were important to connect with audiences, but successful organization leaders rely on metrics, not just anecdotes.

“I asked Silver Beacon Marketing to help us solve advertising on search engines, on Twitter, Facebook and other social media,” said Dakin. “I worked with them in the past and knew that they don’t present fluff or fake numbers. Everything they do is strictly ROI driven.”

Silver Beacon’s passion for return on investment paid off handsomely for Moms Clean Air Force.

“We collaborated on powerful tracking reports immediately,” Dakin said. “Those reports helped the organization decide our priorities. Then Silver Beacon began advertising and found ways to match actions through multiple channels. Using analytics methods that most organizations can’t create for us, Silver Beacon showed us which channels worked for building community and the actual costs of adding a new community member and having that community member convert to our mailing list. The bottom line success metric is moving people from the web to our email list.”

Silver Beacon’s focus on return-on-investment (ROI) gave Moms Clean Air Force the confidence it needed to build a Facebook community that engaged with decision makers and also joined the group’s mailing lists for local and federal activity. The company continued weekly reporting to the leadership team on costs and ROI.

More responsibilities followed. A request to audit the organization’s website found more opportunity for improvement, and Silver Beacon Marketing built a new website for the organization while assuming responsibility for search engine optimization, website analytics and web development.

Successes of the Social Media Case Study, Advanced Search Optimization & Advertising

  • Cost-effective social media and search engine advertising opportunities
  • Search engine optimization of the organization’s website
  • Analytics reporting and analysis to organization leaders
  • Rebuilt and hosted the organization’s website


One of the most attractive characteristics of Google Chrome when it launched in 2009 was its speed.  Everyone I knew had already added enough plugins to Firefox to choke the browser as it tried to load.  Even worse, Firefox add-ons, which the industry now calls plugins or apps, were an integral part of the browser’s loading time.  A misbehaving program was enough to crash your browser, potentially losing work and certainly losing time.  By comparison, Google Chrome seemed mysteriously sleek, like a racehorse running on an empty track early in the morning.  Even better was the way Chrome handled crashes for its extensions, allowing one part of the program to crash while keeping the browser intact.

I vowed to never add so much baggage to Chrome to cause the program to lag.   And I’ve been fairly faithful, pruning unused extensions whenever they’re unused.  That cyber-take on the “stop sending the report and see who complains”  has kept Chrome running fast.   The time to launch Chrome on my system, the only one I care about, is about 3 seconds.   Firefox typically runs 5-6 seconds unless it’s updating an add-on, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was apparently tested for speed using a sundial.   That’s one takeaway for you as a small business leader:  it’s nice to know how software and machines perform in magazine testing, but you should ultimately care about how they perform in your office.

Since then, Big Thinking has published a list of must-have Google Chrome Extensions with a short explanation of each.  The list was divided last year into extensions for everyone and extensions for marketers, and that’s still a method that works well for me and readers who have commented.   Since the first list in December 2009, only StumbleUpon has been on the list each time, but the venerable page recommendation engine is on my endangered list because I know I’m not using the tool very often any longer.  Whether the lack of use is due to lack of time or burnout after years is irrelevant because it will be uninstalled if still aboard Chrome when it’s time for this summer’s list.

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uneven balance - search engine shareWe’ve beat the drum about a search duopoly since before the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance was finalized. A duopoly is a market condition when there are two competitors serving many buyers.  Literalists will insist that Yahoo, Ask, AOL and meta search engines still receive a very large number of search requests. That’s true.

What you need to know as a small business leader is that comScore’s latest data shows that Google or Bing “powered” 93.8 percent of US search in December.   There is an awful lot of money to be made in the fringes that remaining 6 percent or so.

But in January 2011, make sure you understand that web search is a two player game. Yahoo! is reinventing itself into a content company as fast as it can.   AOL isn’t far behind.  And we’re not counting searches on entities like Facebook, Amazon or eBay.  One could argue that an Amazon search is in many ways a proxy for a commercial search–certainly among its core categories.

Your takeaway as a small business leader is to remember that even Google says search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process and you have two different companies in which to position your company’s goods and services.   That’s the first, ultimate priority because you reach 94% of the United States that way.

Source:  “December 2010 Search Engine Rankings“, comScore, 1/14/2011

Image:  Balance by Stephen Stacey