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There is much to admire about the way Lego uses digital marketing, with lots of great shareable content, a shiny new e-commerce site and some excellent mobile apps. 

However, despite the many mentions of Lego on social media and the general affection for the brand, it doesn't seem to interact with its audience as much as some other firms.

I've been looking at some of the things Lego does well online, as well as asking whether its social strategy could be improved...

A great mobile app strategy

As someone with a three year old, I'm often looking for games to make car journeys a little less dull. A lot of free kid's apps are just designed to sucker you in just so they can sell you coins and credits via in-app purchases. 

Some of these are for ridiculous amounts, which should not be allowed: 

(image credit: MacLife)

However, Lego has a selection of great free apps for various age ranges, with none of this in-app purchase nonsense. A great way to raise awareness of the brand among parents and future Lego fans.  

PR made for the digital age

Lego's PR team does a great job of creating fun and very shareable visual content. 

This press release on the world's tallest Lego tower is a great example of this. It's to the point, while adding video and downloadable high-res images for use by news sites. 

The results? Lots of coverage online, including Yahoo news, Gizmodo, and Mail Online:  

Online crowdsourcing

Lego has a crowdsourcing site, CUUSOO, which invites ideas from fans. If ideas are popular, they may be put into production and royalties paid for the idea. 

A nice shiny e-commerce site

I reviewed Lego.com recently, and it was hard too find too much fault with it. It's fun, has lots of great products, and is a very good example of best practice e-commerce. 

Contrast this with the dreadful Playmobil site, and its bizarre insistence on users logging in before viewing the online store section. 

Great microsites

Many product lines have dedicated microsites, such as this for Lego Star Wars

Great video content

Lego uses video very well indeed. From demonstration videos used to showcase products on the e-commerce site, to these videos on its YouTube channel

Not all of the video content is created by Lego. This excellent Lego Black Ops vid for instance, which has had more then 16m views. 

Lego and social media

For such a well loved brand (everyone likes Lego, right?) I'm surprised by the lack of engagement and interaction with fans on social media from Lego. After all, there are plenty of people talking about Lego, uploading videos etc. 

On Twitter for instance, the @Lego account is owned by someone completely unrelated who hasn't tweeted for three years. There are official accounts, but none seem to update very regularly, and they have perhaps failed to take advantage of the sheer amount of brand mentions on the site. 


Lego Henry EllisAccording to Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar (and Lego fan): 

Lego’s online strategy has always stood-out as an impressive one, though it definitely has room for improvement. Generally speaking, the strategy seems to be to keep people firmly onsite, presumably a decision based on their target audience and the safety concerns with letting them loose on third-party sites.

What they DO have onsite is generally market-leading: Every new line or collection is supported with creative assets (wallpapers, downloads etc), impressive digital games which are entirely free to play, product details and “behind the scenes” video.

In terms of off-site, their strategy seems less joined-up. What they do tweet is pretty sporadic unfortunately, though it’s usually interesting and fun content. 

As a Lego fan and blogger myself, I’d like to see a lot more interaction between the company and their biggest fans – whilst I’m sure they don’t need to work with fans, it’s always been a bit of a disappointment to me that they don’t even have a way of rewarding fans, even if involving them in their overall plan isn’t possible.

On Facebook, there's a similar pattern. The official Facebook page has more than 2m likes, representing a major opportunity for engagement with fans, yet it is updated about once a week on average. 

Some great timeline content though: 

Lego does have its own social networks though, perhaps due to the keeping people onsite strategy that Henry Ellis referred to. 

The site, ReBrick, is a place where adult Lego fans can share user-generated content related to the brand. It's a good idea, but perhaps it could be doing this on Facebook and Twitter, where there is a much bigger audience. There's also MyLegoNetwork, created for children. 

According to Henry Elliss:  

There’s a lot that other toy brands (and brands in general) could learn from Lego, though it’s clear that it could learn from others when it comes to the more social marketing side of things. The willingness to try new things is a real delight for fans of all ages, and shows off the creativity that both Lego and its consumers have been famous for, for over 50 years.

As Henry says, there's plenty other brands can learn from Lego, especially its use of mobile apps, but maybe it isn't making the most of its social reach as yet. Or perhaps, like Apple, it doesn't need to work too hard on social media.

What do you think? Perhaps, since Lego's online approach has so many positives, I'm being churlish focusing on social. Let me know in the comments below... 

Graham Charlton

Published 16 July, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (24)

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Stuart Witts

Graham,

I think you're being churlish.

Regards,
Stuart Witts

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Stuart Fair enough ;)

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

But Stuart, surely you can't disagree that their social media strategy is severely lacking? They seem to almost portray a "we don't need to be social" attitude, which I've always found really disappointing...

over 4 years ago

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Anne-Mette Jensen

Re social channels, I think you may have overlooked the @LEGO_Group Twitter account?

Tweets here are frequent and consistent (product updates, quirky LEGO fan stuff and company news), and they reply to a host of questions and mentions on Twitter all the time. It's actually a good example of a brand that's being approachable and engages with its followers in a friendly and helpful manner.

over 4 years ago

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Amy

Have you seen their latest partnership with Google Australia - www.buildwithchrome.com / #buildwithchrome? This has had great traction in social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Not that it is an excuse but in my experience it is always challenging for global brands that have separate country teams to run centralised truly global social channels with efficiency and ease. I would imagine a young target audience for their products doesn't help either in creating social media policies. Agree there is room for improvement but they certainly aren't the only loved brand still finding their feet here.

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Hey Anne-Mette - I definitely agree that the @Lego_Group account is doing well, though I don't think this makes their entire strategy solid. They do a lot of replies, but I'd like to see a bit more active outreach, actually responding to positive (and negative) comments pro-actively, rather than just waiting for people to @message them. Plus, as somebody who @messages them a fair bit, I can testify that they only reply to a tiny percentage of the enquiries they actually get...

over 4 years ago

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David Quaid

I think Lego's strategy is spot on. I think Facebook has been overrated as a marketing platform. After years and years on twitter, and Facebook - both platforms I use a lot - I've still never seen it shape people's ideas for buying.

Lego's attitude appears to be working just fine. Not sure that just because people "believe" (sans evidence) that SoMe works that big brands have to play along with them to avoid be scolded!

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Wow, bold claims David - particularly your assertion that Social Media doesn't work and that there's no evidence to the contrary...

over 4 years ago

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David Quaid

Hi Henry,

Thanks for the reply. Please note that I said overrated and that I haven't seen anything. I don't think that this could/should be read as an assertion that it doesn't work.

Social Media obviously does work, technically and as a platform. And no doubt if you're Coca Cola, P&G, Nike, and you have omnipresent media and advertising - then why wouldn't you collect a few million likes from the one billion or even 3 billion market size that you're selling to.

No doubt for anything that will go viral (1 in 50 million do?) - chances of picking up likes is pretty good.

SocialM has worked well for sharing news, finding new people. But Marketing/Sales- its a little more 'edgy' than most would be willing to admit.

over 4 years ago

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Briony

It sounds like you're mainly are mourning Lego's lack of presence on Twitter! But the building blocks of social media aren't restricted solely to Twitter (mind the bad pun)...
What about YouTube as a social media platform? And Lego's use of crowdsourcing as social mechanism? A strategic decision may have been made to not use Twitter, for one reason or another - but their use of other platforms is still very impressive.
And while I agree that it does seem unusual not to interact with an existing thriving and dedicated community on Twitter, I think Lego's use of apps and e-commerce coupled with great PR and bespoke sites for fans is very creative and filled with sterling content. As such a strong brand, I think they can afford to pick and choose where they want to invest their time in social.

over 4 years ago

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Mitz

LEGO support all the unofficial fan forums etc. in the way most brands would Facebook and Twitter etc. New set previews and official license news (Starwars, Marvel etc.) all come through these sites.

LEGO do have a massive teenage and adult following(TFOL or AFOL) and they are often driven to sites like "FBTB" or "The Brothers Brick".

I agree that LEGO are not active like the typical brands David mentions in his post. But do LEGO really need to be officially active in the Social Media scene when there is so much unofficial "social" activity?

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Briony Yes, it's partly the lack of action on Twitter, but it's much the same story on the Facebook page. It's very well designed, but only updated once a week or so.

I think there's more to praise about Lego online than there is to criticise, but this doesn't mean there's no room for improvement.

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

I agree that they are doing good work on innovating, particularly with some of the unofficial sites. However, this might give a bit of context to why I think they need to do more:

I consider myself to be a massive Lego fan: I write about it a lot on my blog, create custom figures (some of which have been seen by millions of people - not to brag, just for context) and am often tweeted Lego-related stuff by friends and colleagues who know how much I love it. I'm also relatively well versed in the world of social media... :)

With all that in mind, I'd never heard of ANY of the sites mentioned in the comments (The Brother's Brick, FBTB, Rebrick) - obviously that partially shows a lack of research on my part (as a fan) but I rely on Facebook and Twitter to get my Lego news - so surely me not having seen all this means they are also missing out on a lot of other opportunities to 'engage' with people in a similar situation to me??

over 4 years ago

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John

I think some of the commentators are making the fundamental error of confusing the Lego Target consumer with themselves. The core audience for Lego is 4-12yo with 5-9 being the sweet spot. This is the audience Lego is marketing at. And this audience is not particularly active on Facebook or twitter. The only "grown up social" media channel that is thriving with kids is Youtube. And yes parents are important to target but they are the low priority for every toy manufacturer. Parents will rarely buy something for their kid unless they are 100% sure the kids want it. Hence the key marketing priority are kids and not adult LEGO fans.

over 4 years ago

Alison Michalk

Alison Michalk, Director at Quiip

An interesting and daring post Henry! There may be some truth that Lego's "facebook/twitter" strategy is far from robust but in my mind they've progressed far beyond the opportunities that social media affords them. I echo David Quaid's statements about facebook being overrated, in terms of 'true' community building it is extremely restrictive.

I think we'll see an increasing number of companies build proprietary communities, and Lego is at the fore. Whilst their ambitious Lego Universe MMO didn't ultimately succeed, it certainly demonstrated their commitment to building branded online communities.

"The ability to create and manage virtual communities will become a distinguishing feature of nearly every successful business." This quote is actually from 2000 and twelve years on we're still not quite there!

I also think John's post is spot-on, and no doubt a major reason why Lego's wisely not built a FB presence. The safety and security issues around moderating a public space where young children interact is not something to be taken lightly.

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Well, the moment Lego decide to try their hand at another social network, you can sign me up! : )

over 4 years ago

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at The LEGO Group

Thank you very much for this article, Graham. It has definitely been an interesting read for us here at the LEGO Group!

The goal of our social media strategy is to create value for both the consumer and the company and to support this we have developed a social media presence on both owned and earned platforms where we target 13+ LEGO fans.

LEGO CUUSOO and ReBrick are built by the LEGO Group in close collaboration with the fans and on earned media we have an official presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Kaixin SNS, Sina Weibo and QQ Weibo. Besides this we have numerous Facebook pages focusing on individual products or markets.

The main Facebook page and our main Twitter account started in 2011 and the growth rate in fans and followers has been immense. The growth has been entirely organic and has not been based on acquisition of likes, which we're very proud of!

You mention the rate of posting on the page and we do actually post more often than once a week. We send out localized/geo-targeted posts that will apply and appeal to specific markets. Based on our insights this has been the best option for us. In addition to this, we do send out global posts too, the rate of these are usually based on the content, timing and of course, the level of engagement. More importantly, we will continue to grow the day-to-day interaction with our thriving community.

That's not to say there's no room for improvement, there always is! LEGO is a very social brand in its nature and there are many opportunities for us to pursue. We are looking forward to the next 6 months where we will be even more active on social media and hopefully also be able to excite LEGO fans with some of the new stuff that we are working on right now.

Thanks again!

over 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Lars,

Good of you to take the time to comment. It wasn't so much the lack of presence I was highlighting, but the lack of interaction on sites like Twitter.

Is this something you've considered?

over 4 years ago

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at The LEGO Group

Hi Graham
There is a vast amount of conversations happening online around the LEGO brand. It's not so much that there's a lack of interaction but we could, of course, always interact more.
And we are of course always considering when and where to focus our efforts, including Twitter.

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Hey Lars

As a long-time (25+ years) and avid Lego fan (and contributor to Graham's piece - hope you'll forgive the LegoHenrys!) I definitely think that Lego are doing stunning work with the brand, but I still stick to my points that I'd like to see more interaction with the average user.

As a social media man myself, one of the nicest things you can see is when a Brand pro-actively talks to consumers - not just replying to @messages, but actively going out and seeing what people are saying. Naturally there are some brands with generic names that can't do this very easily (the insurance brand 'Confused' springs to mind!) but a name like Lego must surely make it very accessible for you to keep track of what people are saying?

I'd also repeat the comment I made above, as I think it's very relevant to what you're saying: "I'd never heard of ANY of the sites mentioned in the comments (The Brother's Brick, FBTB, Rebrick) - obviously that partially shows a lack of research on my part (as a fan) but I rely on Facebook and Twitter to get my Lego news - so surely me not having seen all this means they are also missing out on a lot of other opportunities to 'engage' with people in a similar situation to me??

My love of Lego and unwavering commitment to the product, as well as being a reasonably vocal proponent and social media user - surely that makes me the sort of consumer it would be worth Lego interacting with??

Henry

over 4 years ago

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at The LEGO Group

Hi Henry,

It's always great to meet fellow LEGO fans!

I'm sorry to hear that we haven't been able to reach you with our social media offerings before now, there's nothing that we would rather do than to make sure that LEGO fans worldwide are able to connect with fellow fans and us here at the LEGO Group.

We also love to reach out and pro-actively engage consumers because we are genuinely interested in what people think about our brand. But we are also faced by the humbling challenge that the amount of conversations about the LEGO brand is absolutely overwhelming. It's a fortunate situation for the company, but it makes it harder for us to be present in as many conversations as we would like to. We will hopefully be able to step up on that in the future so you'll not miss the next time we launch something on social media.

And just to explain to others who might follow this conversation, Brother's Brick (http://www.brothers-brick.com/), LUGNET (http://www.lugnet.com/), Brickset (http://www.brickset.com) and many others, are sites created and driven entirely by fans, whereas Rebrick (http://www.rebrick.com) and LEGO CUUSOO (http://lego.cuusoo.com/) are initiated and owned by the LEGO Group but developed in collaboration with fans and with fan generated content.

over 4 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks Lars - it's lovely to finally have a connection, albeit a fleeting one, with my all-time favourite brand!

I'm fully prepared to admit that a lot of the fault lies with me for not actively seeking-out the sort of communities that would probably nuzzle me to their welcoming Lego bosom, and I shall certainly check a few of them out. I can also see your point that the volume of conversations are quite spectacular and probably unworkable.

One question I didn't see answered, though - which I'm still very curious about: Have you guys never attempted to gain the Twitter handle @Lego??

over 4 years ago

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Dasilva

It's difficult to find educated people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what you're
talking about! Thanks

over 4 years ago

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at The LEGO Group

Hi Henry,

We've not tried to claim it as yet, but we are aware of its presence and will continue to look at our options.

Thank you for your comments and questions! :)

over 4 years ago

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