The building blocks of a collaborative community

Collaborating with your fans or customers is becoming an increasingly important part of social strategy. The way you tap into your community of customers, suppliers and other brand advocates can enhance a project and lift it from merely ‘crowdsourcing’ ideas.

One of the most impressive pieces of collaborative work in the social arena in the last week has been the unveiling of the finished Star Wars film created by In less than two days the film received over two million hits on YouTube. The website split the film into 473 fifteen second segments asking people to submit their contribution but crucially gave the project a realistic time frame in which to expect responses.

Collaborating with your customers can do a lot more than just boost your marketing. Campaigns like KitKat’s Chose a Chunky will get the attention of their fans but is limited in the way it involves their core audience.

LEGO are demonstrating that a deeper involvement of your customers can create real financial benefits for an organisation. For a number of years, LEGO has realised it has a strong and loyal fan base and has fostered their involvement in social media channels. They are now in the process of launching not one but two social media platforms of their own.

The first is Cuusoo, a site where individuals can share ideas and concepts for LEGO sets and products with the aim of them eventually being release as real products. Developed for the Japanese market, where Cuusoo means ‘wish’, the project has been opened up as a worldwide platform and has just had its first project to reach the threshold of ten thousand supporters for LEGO to look into creating the product for real.

By creating this community, a significant amount of research and development is carried out by fans. Popular designs make it into the shops with a level of pre-awareness by fans. A revenue share means Cuusoo users may actually make money from being involved in the site. This first product is linked to the popular Minecraft gaming community and made by its creator sparking additional ideas and links between the block based online game and LEGO.

Rebrick is LEGO’s other social media platform for people to share and discuss LEGO content online. It is a public area where LEGO fans can share images of their models or show films and photography created using LEGO characters.

One such video of a LEGO character being sent into space by a weather balloon has been picked up by the media and reported across the world.

Rebrick allows users to integrate content from other platforms like Flickr and YouTube, avoiding any conflict with existing social media communities. Over time there might be a migration towards content hosted by LEGO. By showcasing creative uses of their products, the social media is encouraging more people to get involved in making their own LEGO creations.

Not all companies have such a loyal and engaged fan base as LEGO, but it shows how listening to your customers can make an impact on your business. Managing social media is a key way of providing the incentive, the brief and space for others to help your business develop.

Posted by Thomas Atcheson.