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SXSW Interactive 2014

Online LEGO Fans and the People who Love Them

LEGO fans make up one of the most enthusiastic online fan communities in existence. We don’t mean kids within the product target group; we mean the teen and adult fans. That’s right: Adult fans!
By nature, these fans build what appeals to grown-ups, and that doesn't always fit well with the company line. So how does The LEGO Group nurture these online fans while not pissing them off?
ReBrick.com and LEGO CUUSOO are LEGO Group online communities for adult fans to share user-created LEGO content (although there are many more fan created communities). It is created as a social collaboration between the LEGO Group and the LEGO fans.
Every day, we balance between brand values and fan culture within these online fan communities. As companies grow, their fan base grows as well, and many companies aren’t prepared for what that means. Do not kid yourself - fans means business!

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  1. What is an “online fan community ecosystem?” As with biology, the greater the fan culture, the more interacting organisms the system has to support in order for an ecosystem to stay intact. So how does a fan culture ecosystem avoid getting polluted? Especially when fans speak with their own voice, and sometimes loudly…
  2. What constitutes a fan? Do you need to sleep outside a store for three days in the rain to buy the newest product to be considered a fan? Fans come in all shapes and sizes, especially in the LEGO community, so what are the different types of LEGO fans?
  3. Do fans have co-ownership of a brand? When fans take to a subject they often expand the original idea with creations, fan fiction, fan movies etc. So how can a company such as the LEGO Group cater to their fan community and still keep a business strategy and core values intact?
  4. What happens when fans combine fan two different brands/themes which don’t fit? In the hands of adult fans, LEGO bricks are often the medium for creations which don’t align with LEGO brand values – think adult situations, i.e., drug use, sexuality, violence (not exactly what you’d want a toy advertised with). How do companies support the fans and their creations without showing support for such depictions?
  5. A lot of LEGO fans know more about the products than the company’s own employees do. They’re highly skilled at creating custom models and modifying parts (in fact, some of them have been building with LEGO bricks seriously their entire lives). So is it even possible for the LEGO Group to facilitate an online fan community, when the fans themselves are experts?



Frederikke Hoff, Community Editor, The LEGO Group

Meta Information:

  • Tags: fans
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Content and Distribution
  • Level: Advanced
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