Set Up, Step Back, Shut Up: The Secrets Behind Lego's Social Media Success


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Set Up, Step Back, Shut Up: The Secrets Behind Lego's Social Media Success

Brands spend $ millions securing a few words of seconds from celebrities like David Beckham to endorse their projects.

Perfumes, clothing, sunglasses, mobile phones - the list goes on.

Yet, Lego gets it for free.

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Set Up, Step Back, Shut Up: The Secrets Behind Lego's Social Media Success

  1. 1. gbrown Set Up, Step Back, Shut Up: The Secrets Behind Lego’s Social Media Success WHEN YOU’RE THIS GOOD YOU DON’T NEED TO ADVERTISE By: Joe Shlabotnik Brands spend millions securing a few words of seconds from celebrities like David Beckham to endorse their projects. Perfumes, clothing, sunglasses, mobile phones – the list goes on. Yet, Lego gets it for free. “The last big thing I made,” said Beckham in a media interview,” was Tower Bridge… It had about 1,000 pieces. I think Lego sometimes helps to calm me down.” From David Beckham to everyone’s Grandchildren, Lego’s appeal crosses all divides and appears universal. $4.6 BILLION AND GROWING
  2. 2. By: The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek Lego is the world’s second largest toymaker, behind Mattel, and despite being an anomaly in an era of digital games and the iPad, its sales continue to grow. 10% growth in 2013 took global sales to $4.6 billion and there’s more to come, especially with its eye on emerging markets. It’s just a plastic brick, so easily imitated. What gives? Lego and the Customer Experience One Does Not Simply… Grow Out of Lego Ban Lifted! Here comes the Doctor Who Lego 7 Posts About Lego and How They Create an Awesome Customer Experience 3 Tips on How to Build a Customer Experience like Lego ‘The Lego Movie’ First 2014 Film to Hit $400 Million Globally THE TURNAROUND Lego wasn’t always the runaway success it now is. Back in the 90s, the Danish toymaker was struggling. Lego retired a large number of designers who had created sets through the 70s and 80s, replacing them with 30 innovators recruited from the top design schools around Europe. Unfortunately, these new designers knew little about the Lego culture and the logistical nightmares of the brand grew: the number of parts increased from 6,000 to 12,000 meaning storage and production costs doubled. Products like Znap, Primo, Scala and Galidor – products which now fade into history – all emerged from this dark period in Lego’s history. Due to high production and distribution costs, many sets were making a loss even before they hit the shelves. Many more were seen as either too out of touch or too expensive for their market. By focusing their energies on an internal story of design, Lego lost touch with its fans and was facing an irrevocable slide into irrelevance.
  3. 3. Jorgen Vig, the current CEO, identified these problems immediately on his appointment in 2004. SETTING UP – CREATING A CULTURE OF CHANGE By: Brickset His first task was identify the biggest asset and build on it. It would be this asset that the company had ignored, and one which used properly would restore it to its decade long growth story. Lego’s strength was its fans – customers who loved that simple plastic brick. “When the company started involving a couple of enthusiastic fans in product development I started systematically meeting with the adult fans of Lego,” said Vig in a media interview, “…I realized the power of customer contributions.” Lego’s problem was that it had spread its energies to thinly over a wide range of products to manage these contributions. By refocusing its resources on those the fans loved, it could help win back some of that support. Vig slashed the number of parts down to 6,000 and began the reorganization of the company. The unprofitable Lego computer games business was shut down. Interestingly, the programmers left and started their own business (Traveller’s Tales) which now licenses the Lego brand today, profitably. “We’ve actively encouraged our fans to interact with us,” says Vig, “and suggest product ideas. An amazing number of grown-ups like to play with Legos. While we have 120 staff designers, we potentially have 120,000 volunteer designers we can access outside the comapny to help us invent.” Rather that recruit from the best designers in the world, Lego’s creative minds would come from the fans themselves. Designers were people who grew up playing with Lego, ones with ideas, ones who were passionate about the kits. STEPPING BACK – LISTENING TO FANS Vig’s core push was to promote a culture of “managing at eye level” which encouraged all managers to hit the shopfloor, talk to factory workers, engineers, marketers and, importantly, the fans. Perhaps what differentiates Lego from many companies is this institutionalize endorsement of their grassroots. Social media would no longer be “what the social media marketing agency does” but a core strategy that helps keep the company focused, helps keeps product development real.
  4. 4. It’s this groundswell of support that Vig calls, “the avenue to truth.” Peter Espersen, Head of Lego Online Communities, says of this approach that “Our main goal is to work with fans in creative ways as opposed to simply managing a Facebook page or our Twitter feed.” SHUTTING UP – LET THE FANS TALK Seeing a senior LEGO leader interact with fans at a live event isn’t uncommon. Espersen points out that senior managers meet with fans numerous times a year and have conversations with them, conversations that spill out onto social media, attract others along the way and eventually become their own movements in the Lego community. At Lego, social media is an integral part of the whole development process, not one of the possible end-channels to retail, sell or market the products. Supporting their fans isn’t a way of improving the impact of their ATL advertising ROI, it is their whole marketing strategy. Lego Ideas is a popular platform for fans to submit their ideas for new product lines. Typical entries focus on existing franchise such as Batman with the Lego Dark Knight series and most have bubbled under with several hundred or, if lucky, 1000 votes of approval from the community. But when the idea floated that Lego should make Minecraft sets, the submission received over 10,000 votes in 48 hours. Lego Rebrick connects fans with each other by sharing designs and ideas. The Lego Movie premiered to applause making $69m in its opening weekend, not bad for an hour long “commercial” for Lego products. Lego understands that people aren’t buying plastic bricks, they’re buying what those bricks can do for them. Take a look at that lego box and you’ll understand the appeal. Inside a rather disappointing plastic bag of bricks that occupies a fraction of the padded box. On the outside, however, the story. To this day, in my adult years, I feel a sense of anticipation when I see the bright colors of the Firetruck and the lego figure scaling the ladder to the rescue. The “what those bricks can do” for the child is a promise of play, discovery, exploration, creation and telling a story with friends, with siblings, with parents or alone in the bath. LEGO IS STORYTELLING Lego is a tool to help tell stories. Take away the stories and it’s just a plastic brick, something easily copied by Chinese imitators. But then that’s what people pay for – not the plastic brick but the platform Lego gives them to tell their own stories. It’s the story of father and son spending a weekend building the Millennium Falcon together. It’s the story of the daughter building a firetruck all on her own without help from her parents. It’s the story of enthusiasts whose passion for Lego helped her connect with similar minded people all over the world. Lego’s social media success isn’t the result of a clever social media strategy, it’s the result of recognizing what Lego stands for and creating a platform for the truth, the authentic stories of the fans to take over. Letting go requires a lot of courage but in time it’s going to be the only way to go. How to Create Exceptional Customer Experience 150: The Neuroscience of Facebook, Empathy and Relationships for Brands Ban Lifted! Here comes the Doctor Who Lego Delivering Customer Experience Excellence (Presentation) Zappos Holacracy: No fixed staff hierarchy
  5. 5. 33 of Your Favorite Bands Recreated with LEGO Premium CX Research How to create an amazing experience that drives sales and word of mouth The Apple Customer Experience: how can brands replicate it? Youth Buyology: why youth buy