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LEGO is one of the most beloved brands on the planet.
Its ability to remain popular for more than eighty years is a testament to the quality of the product and the strength of imagination it fosters in every generation.
To remain relevant in the last couple of decades is certainly attributable to its many licenses and partnerships with equally loved properties. Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Simpsons.
This year has seen perhaps its biggest success so far with The LEGO Movie, a triumph of content marketing that has completely dominated the marketing world.
Almost every media outlet and publisher including us (this is now my fourth article in a row about LEGO), produced content around The LEGO Movie, not just because it’s topical, but because there is so much love for the brand.
It was incredibly apparent how every article written about it radiated with positivity and nostalgia.
Graham Charlton covered LEGO’s online strategy back in 2012 and he felt that despite the many mentions of Lego on social media and the general affection for the brand, it didn't seem to interact with its audience as much as some other brands.
Although there was much to admire about the way Lego used digital marketing at the time, with lots of great shareable content, a brand new ecommerce site and some excellent mobile apps, its official social accounts were seldom updated and failed to take advantage of the sheer amount of brand mentions on each channel.
Within two years, things are looking quite different. LEGO now runs social channels where it keeps a constant eye on the feeds and is super quick to engage and remain personal to its audience. It has also built a supportive and consistently imaginative community on its LEGO Ideas site.
The point when LEGO got its marketing strategy dead-on is when it started treating adult and child one and the same. LEGO’s invitation to its audience is a catch-all policy: "hey come on in, we’re all the same here, we’re just a bunch of people who love LEGO".
Let’s take a look at some examples of why everything is awesome in LEGO’s social world.
Vine and Instagram Video
This article comes at a topical point in LEGO’s social growth, as it has just this week entered the world of Vine and Instagram Video.
Apparently two videos a week will be posted on its Vine and Instagram channels and also shared across The LEGO Group’s existing social channels. The videos will coincide with the launch of new LEGO Mixels range, but will also feature existing LEGO products.
As of today, LEGO’s Vine channel is two days old, has 69 followers and has posted one Vine.
It’s a beautifully animated and scored piece that clearly looks like it has a higher budget than a lot of other equally large global brands. Keeping it to a normal desk environment helps to bring it down to Earth though.
LEGO has run a great Instagram channel since November 2013 and last week it uploaded its first Instagram video.
Again there’s a bit of budget thrown behind this, with some high quality production values. It’s also clear that the same agency (1000heads) is responsible for both Vine and Instagram efforts.
It’s interesting that LEGO has waited this long to enter the social video world. LEGO has certainly been creating its own animated content for quite some time, both uploaded on to YouTube and released on home video.
Much of its content though is slick, computer generated animation rather than the lo-fi, DIY charm of stop-motion.
There’s a definite shift in style between the above video and The LEGO Movie’s quasi stop-motion style.
Apart from perhaps the lighting and the wealth of Hollywood actors, there’s no reason why you can’t recreate the movements of this animation at home.
And that’s probably why it’s taken so long for LEGO to enter Vine and Instagram Video. The channels are notable for the huge amount of quality stop motion animation available. Users have also been making their own brilliant animated Vines, Instagrams and YouTube videos using LEGO sets for years.
Even branded partners have been making brilliant Instagram videos ahead of LEGO itself.
Here LEGO teamed up with DK Books and helped drive social growth with these videos used to promote the launch of its Minifigure Year by Year book.
No wonder LEGO is being incredibly careful in its first forays onto these channels. There’s already a heck of a lot of great content already out there and it would be a rare miscalculation if LEGO didn’t at least match the best of them. Although as The LEGO Movie has shown, nobody does LEGO’s content marketing better than LEGO itself, so we can be sure that great things are going to come from this.
As I mentioned above, LEGO has a huge amount of video content already and uploads it on a regular basis through a vast amount of channels.
Each range of sets has its own channel and specific content, whether its Technic, City, Chima or Friends. The content ranges from web exclusive mini-episodes, adverts and music videos.
I particularly like the series of videos called Micro Square. These are ‘how-to’ tutorials, a format that does incredibly well on YouTube, that teach users how to build micro-scale models. Perhaps also tapping into the Minecraft craze too.
Adding to this content marketing mix are existing YouTube stars like EvanTubeHD whose time-lapse build of a Star Wars Rancor Pit has had nearly 7m views.
As Mike Zeederberg from Zuni points out “it's a master class of content marketing, customer engagement and monetisation, all built around a really good product.”
Last year The LEGO Movie Twitter account helped build early anticipation for a film that wouldn’t be released for another seven months.
The account showed huge levels of engagement and regularly shared follower’s photographs in a fan of the week showcase.
The LEGO Group itself has also upped its game considerably since our original article in 2012.
LEGO responds with little delay to positive mentions.
It also recognizes that although it may not have been set up as such, branded Twitter accounts often attract customer service enquiries. Operating in a public space means that enquiring consumers will see this as an opportunity to communicate with you, especially if other customer service channels are harder to find.
The best brands on Twitter react quickly and helpfully to all enquiries, even if there’s a separate social customer service channels set up elsewhere.
LEGO understands this very well.
On most days there are at least 10 responses to customer queries and complaints, all dealt with calmly and quickly.
The LEGO Group excels at Twitter. Using it in equal parts for content marketing, engagement, customer service and broadcasting. It's a pleasure to follow.
Lego Ideas began as Cuusoo, a Japanese partner of The Lego Group that began working together in 2008 to produce community developed ideas for Lego sets which, if gaining more than 10,000 votes, will be forwarded to the heads of Lego for possible development.
The scheme was launched worldwide in 2011 and has so far been responsible for eight successful products, including this Ghostbusters set:
The crowdsourcing of creative design is a fantastic way to engage with your customers. Who couldn’t possibly say that one of their dream jobs is to become a designer for Lego? Now it’s actually possible.
With this venture Lego has shown that it’s possible for large corporate brands to use crowdsourcing to genuinely get customers excited about not just the purchase of a product but its development, creating a lengthy period of hype generation and anticipation.
LEGO's Global Head of Social Media Lars Silberbauer-Andersonwill be speaking at our Festival of Marketing event in November, a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.