Lego’s social platform showcases fan creations

Toymaker partners with the sizable fan communities already on the Web to create a central social network.

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So a few years ago, when the Danish company considered building a social network of its own, it had to consider the abundance of fan-created communities dedicated to the multicolored, plastic bricks.

“We can’t just do anything,” says Peter Espersen, online community lead for Lego. “We need to be respectful, and we need to mind what the other guys are doing.”

What Lego ended up with is Rebrick, a social bookmarking site where users don’t upload their own photos; rather, they bookmark photos on websites such as Flickr and Brickshelf to share with a wide audience. Think of it as a clearinghouse, Espersen says.

Lego’s approach has attracted attention without alienating its global online fan presence, Espersen says. That’s the goal.

Planning the project

The idea for a social media site had been floating around at Lego for several years, Espersen says. There were some internal thoughts about one, and a communications agency had pitched a similar idea. A “very, very rough concept,” which Lego’s team outlined in a PowerPoint presentation, was all there was.

“It was kind of difficult to go from the overall PowerPoint idea to a solid concept,” he says.

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