Everything is Awesome: LEGO’s Monster Year on Social

LEGO is proof positive that tablets and smartphones have not replaced analog toys. Currently, LEGO is the world’s largest and most valuable toymaker. We took a look at the role social media played in LEGO’s success last year.

In Danish, LEGO loosely translates to "play well”, and is the foundation of their philosophy. The tale of the 83-year-old Scandinavian company from Billund, Denmark, is truly remarkable – they’ve survived factory fires, economic hardship during World War II, kept the company thriving through four family generations, and recovered from near bankruptcy in 2004 and put itself back together again to achieve explosive growth.

A decade later, The LEGO Movie hit theaters and grossed $500 million worldwide. This put LEGO ahead of Mattel’s Barbie, making it the world’s largest and most profitable toy manufacturer. The successful turnaround is built on their ability to stay relevant in the eye’s of children and parents alike.

LEGO is achieving this in two ways. The first is staying true to their identity and the "LEGO system” by designing products that are versatile, as they expand with popular characters and themes by tapping new fan bases such as Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Star Wars.

Second, they do a stellar job at building and connecting to online communities through a unique social marketing strategy.

Social Media at the Core

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LEGO understands the importance of their following and the strategic role social media plays for the brand. Their Fans/Followers/Subscribers aren’t just a vanity metric, they help to strengthen their name, and are a powerful resource for their innovation strategy. Fans are at the heart of what they do and where they’re going. LEGO’s social media strategy pays tribute to them and their worlds – after all, it’s about the memories they make from the stories they create with those plastic bricks. LEGO even launched ReBrick in 2011 – a social bookmarking platform designed for members to share creations and that of other users they find around the web.

LEGO’s official YouTube channel is awesome. They generate a ton of content that is sorted in playlists by category like short movies, superheroes, cities, and languages.

Get this, in 2014 people spent over 4,850 years and 290 days watching LEGO’s YouTube videos! To put that into perspective, that is the same amount of time in human history it took people to build basic metal tools. Last year, the brand posted more than 1700 videos, which means that they are able to produce almost 5 videos daily on average. People can see new stories every day which is pretty brickn’ kool.

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Their most popular video from last year got 4+ million views. They’ve even subtly added an advert button in the corner that directs users to their website to purchase the product being featured in the video. Read more about how our study found that creating engaging content leads to increased reach, and that engagement correlates to visits.

Best Content of 2014

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The Lego Movie trailer on the Warner Bros channel was viewed by more than 27 million people. LEGO’s YouTube channel received 470 million new video views in 2014. Talk about a monster year on social! LEGO viewers spent 3,883 years watching their YouTube videos in 2014.

LEGO’s most engaging posts/tweets in 2014 were related to Star Wars, the Simpson’s figures, Batman, and Comic Con. Check out LEGO’s reaction to Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie tweet. The photo was courtesy of LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester and received more than 44,000 interactions on Facebook and nearly 5,600 interactions on Twitter.

Managing a PR crisis

LEGO experienced a lot of buzz around their brand on social when Greenpeace targeted the toy manufacturer for their marketing partnership with Shell. The environmental NGO was using LEGO to attack the oil giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic through a YouTube video depicting a pristine Arctic built from LEGOs gradually being submerged in oil. The video has attracted over 6.9 million views.

Take note, LEGO should be commended for how they dealt with the negative targeted campaign on social media. They leveraged the power of Twitter to be part of the conversation as is it unfolded in real-time. This provided LEGO the opportunity to communicate their values, and demonstrate their position on this issue.

This not only restored the brand’s positive reputation, but it helped to increase their interactions, capture new fans, and improve brand affinity which can lead to website conversions. Today, brands are living breathing entities with a company culture and value system. Choosing to ignore or leaving an issue unresolved in the scrutiny of the public eye can greatly harm a brand’s reputation and significantly impact their sales.

LEGO has decided not to renew its marketing contract with Shell – a partnership they forged in the 1960s – since the 2011 agreement for the distribution of 16 million Shell-branded toys at petrol stations in 26 countries valued at $116 million.

The president and Chief Executive of LEGO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, stated, "As we expand globally, we are determined to leave a positive impact on society, and the planet that our children will inherit.”

The biggest user activity took place in July on Facebook and Twitter, as can be seen in the charts below. LEGO successfully engaged in real-time conversation to address the issue in a series of tweets with the quote below. Social media is an extension of their brand – a channel to communicate with their fanbase and the love of these awesome plastic bricks.

We’re always thankful for input we receive from fans, children, and parents alike. We know the importance of this issue. We’re determined to leave a positive impact on our society & children. We’re saddened when the Lego brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organisations. However, we fully expect Shell to live up to their responsibility & take appropriate action to any potential claims. It is important to us that any partnerships we have support our vision, promise, & has Lego play at the core.

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