The Online World of Lego Brands

By Joshua Boyd on April 13th 2018

Who doesn’t like a good box of Lego? I can still remember the set I had as a kid, a space shuttle one I never had the attention span to fully complete. It was way more fun to create alien spaceships driven by horses taken from my sister’s stable set (there’s an idea for you Lego).

So with nostalgia in my brain and Brandwatch Analytics at my finger tips, I thought I’d do a bit of digging into some Lego social data. Everything in this post (unless stated otherwise) includes data from Instagram and Twitter related to posts around ‘Lego’. It covers March 2015 – March 2018 and I did some basic cleaning to remove major spam accounts.

This analysis is just the tip of the iceberg of the Lego data that’s out there, but here’s what we pulled out.

Search vs social trends

Depending on the situation, search and social data can either match up incredibly well, or be barely recognizable to each other. When we look at the volume of each around Lego, we can see the latter is true in this case.

Search data

Social data

We can see that searches around Lego are much more seasonal with big jumps every December, presumably as people look for Christmas gifts. In comparison, the volume of social posts stays relatively steady throughout the year.

One similarity is they both have peaks in February 2017, the month The Lego Batman Movie was released. The social data also sees another jump in December of 2017. Are we starting to see seasonality here? Obviously it’s too early to tell, but another trend hiding in the data may offer some clues.

Instagram taking over

In the following chart we can see that tweets about Lego have been on the decline, while Instagram posts are growing. If the trend continues, it won’t be long until there are more Instagram posts than tweets.

But what does this have to do with Christmas?

Well, it turns out people are more likely to share posts around Lego that mention Christmas on Instagram than they are on Twitter. In December 2017, 66% of Christmas related Lego posts were on Instagram. This helped cause our festive spike.

This makes a lot of sense. Instagram is a lot more visual and it’s clear people love to show off their Lego sets to their followers.

We can also see that out of Lego’s main accounts on the two platforms, their Instagram account is far more popular, with 2.5m followers compared to the 518k on Twitter. And, while posting less, the Instagram account scores higher on our impact score too.

We can also see some really interesting hashtags growing out of the Lego Instagram community. In particular, there’s a growing mass of content of high-quality and imaginative Lego-based photography you can find at #legophotography and #legostagram. Just like this one:

Rowing on the seven seas (1/6) #Lego #Space #Exploration #Sea #Boat

A post shared by Ballou34 (@ballou34) on

MOCs

Looking deeper at the Lego community, we came across another subsection. People using the abbreviation MOC – standing for ‘My Own Creation’.

Exactly what it sounds like, it ‘s a term to describe fan-made models and builds. Or in other words, any creation built without using a set of official instructions.

Most of these types of posts appear on Instagram (90% in March 2018), again showing that’s the platform where Lego fans go to post about their purchases and creations.

There are loads of posts like this that show the imagination of people who are into Lego. This can be a great source of inspiration for the company. They already have their LEGO Ideas website where people can suggest ideas for sets, but tracking MOCs on social could bolster this approach.

It also highlights the enthusiasm of Lego fans, who are willing to spend their own free time putting together their own ideas. With so many great ones out there, all fans benefit in the end.

Lego brand accounts and their followers

We all know Lego is a hugely popular global company. Clearly there is no one Lego buying type of person. In fact, Lego probably have loads of them sketched out. But I thought I would see if we could put the foundations down for some personas just using Lego brand accounts and Brandwatch Audiences.

Using three Lego accounts – @LEGO_Group, @LEGOIdeas, and @LEGO_Education – we put this together in just a few minutes. The process is far from in-depth, offering just a quick overview. But it gives us some great insights to build on.

The Teacher

A Lego scene of a classroom

The @LEGO_Education Twitter account represent the LEGO Education division which is dedicated to encouraging learning through the use of LEGO. With a quick analysis we can take a look at this audience.

Profession-wise, obviously Audiences tells us they’re mostly teachers. No shock there. We also see a higher than Twitter average of creatives, with interests in tech and family/parenting. Again, no big surprises, but we can start to see the group skew towards science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and art teachers.

This is borne out by a wordcloud made from the bios of @LEGO_Education followers. We can see lots of education-related terms, plus art and STEM ones too.

To tease out some more details we can look at the new Popular and Hashtags tabs in Audiences. These are based off the popular content and hashtags of a specific network of accounts, in this case followers of @LEGO_Education.

We can further be sure it’s STEM and art teachers primarily interested in using Lego for education as we see lots of science-based (#space, #nature, #infosec) and art-based (#photography, #photo, #art) hashtags in use. After most-used #EdTech, we see #K12. With many of the account’s followers based in the US we can assume this refers to education of those from kindergarten to grade 12.

Looking in the Popular tab, we see a lot more education-based content, including around educational tech companies and products, plus some political posts around supporting education. There’s also some tech news, plus a fair few pictures of cats 🐱.

So from there we can see that these are teachers who are actively looking for new ways to educate their pupils using technology. Clearly they’re interested in using LEGO for that. They’re also engaging with other educational tech options. A great starting point for further segmentation and promotional activity.

Image for this section sourced from here.

The fans in general

Next we’ll look at followers of @LEGO_group, Lego’s main Twitter account.

Right off the bat we can see this is a very different group of people. The most common professions are creatives, with executives and teachers in second place.

For their interests, family/parenting comes out top, followed by sports, games, and books.

This group is much more general and a bit harder to define, but our wordcloud can give us some more insight:

Hmmm. Still a pretty mixed bag here. We can see a fair bit of family-based keywords, along with some business ones. Who knew CEOs, founders, and consultants were so into LEGO? Might be a blog post in that for another day.

When we look at the content in the Popular tab and most used hashtags, we can see that those Twitter ‘RT and win’ competitions are very popular. A bit on the spammy side, probably not a good option for LEGO to use themselves, but it’s insight nonetheless.

So what have we got out of this process? We can see the diversity of the casual Lego fan, whether they’re CEOs with a set hidden in their desk or a family-type who loves playing with their kids. This gives us a some good starting points to break the audience up into more specific chunks to target marketing around.

Image for this section sourced from here.

The Lego geek

Next up is a look at the followers of the @LEGOIdeas account. As previously mentioned this represents the Lego service that allows people to submit their own designs for sets.

They’re much more enthusiastic than your casual fan, but more about recreation than your teacher.

When we look at professions creatives come out on top again, with executives, software devs, and teachers following. When it comes to interests family/parenting heads up the list, followed by games, technology, and sports.

With software developers, games, and technology coming high up, we can start to build out the Lego geek persona. We can see the wordcloud backs this up too:

Along with geek self-profession, we also see mentions around science, technology, devs, and sci-fi. Along with many of these people having creative jobs, it’s pretty clear why they’d be interested in LEGO Ideas. A great chance to use their tech and creative skills to make something entirely new that they’ll love (and hopefully Lego will love too).

This is another great starting point for further exploration for the LEGO Ideas team. There’s clearly a lot of breadth in this group, but with underlying similarities.

Image for this section sourced from here.

What’s driving Lego conversations on social?

Now we can take a look at the general conversation around Lego from all mentions on Instagram and Twitter. For this we can use our new topics cloud tool and see what gets talked about most and whether its positive or negative.

It’s looking good, with no negative topics and some strongly positive ones included too:

Now if you’re a toy company, you’re going to be pretty happy that words like ‘fun’, ‘play’, and ‘cool’ are associated with your brand. But past these more general terms, we can see some specifics around what kind of Lego is most popular.

With a bit of data cleaning we get this list of most popular topics, which make up around 20% of all Lego conversations:

  1. Star Wars
  2. The LEGO Movie
  3. LEGO Dimensions
  4. Batman
  5. LEGO Ninjago

All five of these things have something in common: they’re more than just a simple Lego set or line. Star Wars is obviously it’s own film franchise, while LEGO Dimensions is its own game. And, of course, the other three are all Lego films as well. So it’s not surprising these drive a lot of conversation.

What’s also good to see is that these conversations are all positive too. People are clearly loving the films, games and sets themselves. When we strip out the neutral mentions, we can see the reception is very positive for all of them:

The conversation isn’t uniform across platforms though. When we compare Instagram and Twitter, something interesting happens:

Twitter is far more evenly split on topics, whereas Instagram looks very different. Star Wars and Batman content dominates, while The Lego Movie and Lego Dimensions posts nearly disappear. Clearly on the more image-favoured platform of Instagram, people just aren’t interested in taking pictures relating to The Lego Movie and Lego Dimensions.

This isn’t too much of a surprise. Lego Dimensions is a video game with minimal amounts of tie-in physical Lego products. The Lego Movie had plenty of its own sets, but clearly they’ve not caught on. Considering the already existing cultural attachment to the Batman and Star Wars franchises, hopefully the film won’t feel too hard done by, particularly as it holds its own on Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter

We’ve spoke a lot on how Lego content is posted on Instagram, so let’s take a quick look at Twitter. By no means are Lego fans not creative here as well. For example, there’s this popular and adorable tweet:

Or this incredible build, which is pretty much better than anything I’ve done in my life:

But overall, on Twitter people were far more likely to be discussing the games and the films, rather than the sets they’d bought or the creations they’d made. Twitter is far more geared towards discussion, and these kinds of topics are hugely popular anyway, so it makes sense.

There was something more interesting that came out though. And that was how, on Twitter at least, references to Lego have taken on new linguistic meanings beyond toys and bricks:

We found loads of mentions like this (4.5k). Essentially telling someone to step on a Lego as an insult, and as we all know how much that hurts, it’s a pretty good insult at that. This is by no means a new phrase (Know Your Meme dates it back to 2007 at least), but it’s interesting to see how it’s evolved from rage comic memes to common Twitter vernacular.

And so, to finish, and to drive home the pain Lego inflicts around the world on top of all the joy it spreads, here’s a video of the world’s longest Lego walk:

Joshua Boyd

Josh is the blog and community manager for Brandwatch. Along with heading up the social channels, Josh otherwise spends time worrying about Whitehawk FC and creating pointless maps.