“If we want to predict where social media is heading, we should look at Chinese social platforms, which have evolved far beyond how we engage with social in the western world.”

This was just one piece of advice offered by Lego’s senior global director, Lars Silberbauer from the Forum Stage at Cannes Lions 2017.

By referencing China’s social evolution, Silberbauer was predicting that platforms will move from open to closed networks, whereby brands will need to communicate with people at a one-to-one level, as opposed to sharing content with millions of people at any one time.

“What will this look like?” asked Silberbauer. “Will messenger apps continue to evolve and offer new functionalities or will chat-bots take on the task of communicating effective brand messaging at a one-to-one level? How we solve this will be interesting to watch.”

According to analysts, messaging apps are already seeing double digit growth in 2017, breaking 50% penetration among mobile phone users in the US and Germany and even reaching 60+% in France and Indonesia. With APAC’s massive user-base and high penetration rates in key markets, analysts expect that more than a quarter of the world will be using mobile messaging apps by 2019.

Integration within messaging apps, sponsored stickers or branded chat-bots will allow brands to engage with this global shift towards one-to-one social engagement.

China’s WeChat platform currently plays host to the largest ecosystem of in-app services, including official accounts for brands and government services, a social network feed, a payment system that’s widely supported by Chinese retailers, as well as the ability to book medical appointments and pay bills in most major Chinese cities.

Some 92% of global luxury brands now have a WeChat presence and can take advantage of features that include push notifications, geolocation tracking, e-commerce, and more sophisticated customer service capabilities like auto-reply functionality.

Lego’s social media journey meanwhile is only six years old but already it is one the most engaged with brands across social platforms and is currently the number two most watched brand on YouTube (behind RedBull).

The company’s strategy across 130 markets is three-tiered and revolves around targeting human needs, creating value, and tracking and delivering content in real-time.

Since 2012, Silberbauer has grown a team that now consists of 50 people of 35 different nationalities, working from London, America and Denmark.

“If you want to act in a world that is constantly disrupting, you need to have as many different perspectives on what you’re doing right now as possible, otherwise you get blind-sided if you only have one cultural view on things,” Silberbauer said. “We don’t have a fixed media plan when it comes to social. We like to watch the horses race and then place our bets.”