Learn Before You Leap

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LeapFrog, a provider of children’s educational toys and games, is no stranger to the online space. In fact, Jaeme Laczkowski, the company’s senior community relations manager, says LeapFrog has spent years developing online communities, engaging in social media, and embracing bloggers to foster its brand. 

With 30,000 fans on Facebook, another 4,600 on Twitter, and a vibrant blog and discussion forum powered by Lithium Technologies, LeapFrog has puddle-jumped ahead of most other toy companies. Its Parents Community, designed to grow the brand by engaging and sharing valuable content with parents and providing them with a feedback forum, has been a particular area of study for the brand. 

Much like the tiny users of its educational game products, LeapFrog’s community has gone through several stages of development. Most recently, in August 2009, the company decided to switch community platform providers—Laczkowski says LeapFrog’s vendor wasn’t delivering the level of analytics LeapFrog had hoped for, and LeapFrog was even having trouble trusting the site-traffic numbers the vendor was providing. The figures were flattering each month—but they included bot traffic and a lot of search traffic. 

“The numbers were high,” Laczkowski recalls. “And I kept thinking, ‘Gosh, for a new community, I don’t see the amount of engagement for this high number.’” 

In addition to the effort to “get cleaner about the numbers,” LeapFrog turned to Lithium to develop new ideas for customer engagement, attach community metrics to activity and engagement, and to relaunch the Parents Community. “I wanted to…see where the numbers were rising and where engagement was, and where we were being most effective in terms of the passionate topics bloggers were writing about,” she says. 

With Lithium’s advice, LeapFrog changed its blogging practice, as well. At first, the LeapFrog community allowed any registered member to set up a blog and post about childhood development, LeapFrog products, and related issues. However, the posts were fragmented and users would drop off after posting once or twice. Laczkowski adds that sometimes members would blog about a support issue—rather than taking that question to the support forum. 

In consulting with Lithium, LeapFrog decided to make blogging a privilege. “If you’re going to blog you need to show support for the brand, dedication to the blog—and you have to understand the time commitment and the amount of frequency involved,” Laczkowski explains. “We decided to make it invitation-only and it’s been running so much more smoothly now.” The Parents Community destination hosts the LeapFrog “Ages and Stages” blog program as well as a forum, where support questions are often raised. 

According to Laczkowski, measuring success with the community hasn’t been cut-and-dried, however, the company has been able to measure call deflection thanks to the support cases on the site. 

In the five months following the Lithium community’s go-live, Laczkowski reports that the forum had over a million issue-related posts and measured 25 percent call deflection—what she estimates is hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. 

Forum activity is typically highest in December and January, when parents are often researching gift items and setting up purchased games and toys. Engagement during December 2009 was about 150 percent higher than that in October. Laczkowski says the real boon is having LeapFrog customers and brand evangelists step up and answer other customers’ questions. 

“You’ll see a lot of customers jumping and answering that person’s question, even before I can get to it,” she says. In the end, Laczkowski conveys the real importance is in letting customers know their voices are being heard. “That’s what reaps brand loyalty in the end.” 

THE PAYOFF:

Since launching an online community with Lithium Technologies, LeapFrog: 

  • supported over 1 million issue-related posts in 2009;
  • has seen call deflection of 25 percent thanks to the online support channel;
  • managed support needs during the peak months of December and January by enabling and encouraging customers to answer each other’s questions; and
  • has cross-promoted community and blog activity through its other social media channels. 

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