How Lego infuses social media marketing with play

Senior global director shares how its brand strategy needs to reflect its heritage and engagement values

Lego is a brand synonymous with play. Indeed, its name is derived from the Danish words for ‘play well’ – leg godt. So it is perhaps not surprising to hear senior global director at Lego Group, Lars Silberbauer, uses similar language when referring to his own job.

“We want to be always testing out whatever new creative tools that Instagram or the others are coming up with,” he tells CMO in advance of speaking at this year's CeBIT conference. “We want to learn from it, we want to try it out, we want to play around with it like we were kids who just got new toys.”

Silberbauer manages initiatives for Lego Group across all third-party social media platforms, in a role he has built up from scratch since joining seven years ago.

Back then, the group did not even have a Facebook page. Now it is represented across most social media channels, reaching 50 million consumers each month, while Silberbauer manages a team from his office in London which stretches from Shanghai and Singapore to the east coast of the US.

The key channel for Lego is YouTube, where it reaches more than 30 million unique users monthly, with over 5 million subscribers.

Silberbauer highlights Lego’s designer videos as a key example of its success on this channel. The designer video for its Star Wars Millennium Falcon model released last year gathered more than 250,000 views, while another for its Downtown Diner model clocked more than half a million.

“The Lego designers are the rock stars of the company, and for us it was important to show how they work and the thought that goes into the creation of a Lego set,” he says.

While the role of social media is to connect with as many fans as possible, Silberbauer says it is also important for Lego Group to also be listening in to what they are creating.

“It is about having the connections,” Silberbauer says. “There is a team at Lego dedicated to connecting with those user communities and also with our crowdsourcing site, Lego Ideas.

“We might have great ideas and great designers, but when we look to the millions of Lego fans, there are always amazing ideas that we would never have thought of that we can then hopefully bring to the market and help showcase.”

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While the Lego Group is renowned for its very deliberate approach to product design and marketing, its social channels represent a place to explore new approaches to content creation. Silberbauer says its use of YouTube demonstrates a much more agile approach to content.

“I think that is the big shift you need to go on as a company from being very old school, traditional on digital to making sure you can move and change at the same pace as your consumers are changing,” he says. “It is a difficult transition for all companies who have a long history, because part of what makes them strong is they have built up a lot of ways of working. But in digital you often need to unlearn a lot of things and let go of a lot of established processes.”

Silberbauer says his group takes this approach to all social media channels and is constantly striving to be a first-mover with any new tool social media services release.

“If there is no real reason why we shouldn’t do it, then let’s just try it out and then learn from it,” he says. “Instead of building up a lot of research and insight and taking a lot of time, we would rather just do five projects and test them out.

“The main rule that we try to apply is don’t just do the usual thing. You need to focus on where you feel the company should go, or which digital companies you should be on, rather than just doing things as usual. So always challenge the paradigm.”’

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