Microsoft's Safer Online

How do you create a hack for keeping conversations lively around safety and security?


Connect to Twitter users interested in tech safety and security as a valuable, real-time resource.


Worked with social marketing agency Uptown Treehouse to effectively target users by interest and location using Promoted Accounts.


  • 25% decrease in cost per follower through optimization
  • 24K new followers over a three-month period
  • 24% increase in follow rate

Microsoft’s Safer Online program (@Safer_Online) educates Internet users about online privacy and safety concerns—basically, everything from phishing scams to the latest Microsoft security updates.

Their challenge

@Safer_Online wanted to build awareness, spark conversations and provide a valuable, real-time resource to accompany their Safety and Security Center. They decided to bring their campaign into the social realm so they could immediately alert users of valuable security information.

Their solution

@Safer_Online used Promoted Accounts and constantly optimized the campaigns to build a targeted Twitter follower base. @Safer_Online geo-targeted over half a dozen countries with separate campaigns. Each country had up to four campaigns targeted by topical, product and demographic interests.

 Safer Online

Each month, @Safer_Online updated their interest targeting strategy to get the best results. To remain competitive @Safer_Online also adjusted each campaign’s bid so that it was slightly higher than the suggested daily bid.

“Consumers can easily share risks with their friends and family by broadcasting them on Twitter. They can also raise concerns through Safer Online’s Twitter handle (@Safer_Online), and Microsoft can quickly respond by using the ‘at reply’ function.”

Dillon BianchiDirector of Social Marketing at Uptown Treehouse, the agency that helped Microsoft run their Safer Online Twitter campaign

Their results

In addition to a cost per follower decrease of 25% over two months and a follow rate increase of 24%, @Safer_Online learned quite a bit about their audience through targeting, testing, and recalibrating. For example, they found that their U.S. audience is specifically interested in online safety organizations, while their audience in Germany is more interested in general Microsoft products. Three months later, they could also boast nearly 24,000 new followers.

3 keys to success

  1. Target.
    Use interest targeting to connect with the right followers and then get their attention with your Tweets.
  2. Readjust accordingly. 
    Repeat what works and scrap what doesn’t. @Safer_Online did plenty of checking and adjusting to optimize their campaign.
  3. Keep the conversation going. 
    Keep your audience engaged—encourage them to participate in the conversation and share their own tips.