When 26 year-old Nick Woodman retreated to Australia after an entrepreneurial failure, he had no idea that he was embarking on a journey which would lead him to owning a company valued at more than $2.25 billion just ten years later.

Despite intending only to enjoy a surfing trip with friends, he returned to the USA having founded GoPro – a company specialising in high-quality portable cameras, capable of capturing extreme sports from the athlete’s perspective. Today GoPro is synonymous with point-of-view footage, from surfing through to BASE jumping.

However, GoPro has been just as revolutionary for marketing as it has been for sport. The company has used its popularity on social media to allow its customers to market the product for them – for free.

How did GoPro recruit its community of advocates?

GoPro got the ball rolling on its cyclical marketing strategy by combining more traditional campaigns with User Generated Content (UGC). For example, GoPro’s sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space in 2012 allowed footage from the camera in his helmet to be live streamed around the world, giving viewers a sense of the product’s capabilities.

Moreover, this footage was used as the basis for GoPro’s Super Bowl advert in 2014 which, along with its sponsorship of elite athletes, reinforced the brand’s aspirational message.

By collaborating with athletes to create over 350 videos, amassing more than 50 million views online, GoPro promises its customers the same experiences as their heroes.

This is combined with true UGC, such as a partnership with Marriott which provided hotel guests with access to GoPro cameras during their stay in the hope that they would share the footage on social media.

Real world moments captured by real people.

Nick WoodmanCEO at GoPro

How did GoPro encourage customer engagement?

Customers who buy cameras as a result of GoPro’s initial campaigns then capture and share their own adventures, continuing the cycle of UGC.

To ensure that the brand was benefitting directly from UGC, GoPro developed its own system onto which customers could upload their footage, thus qualifying for the GoPro Awards. This rewards customers for the value they provide to GoPro, incentivising them to create better content, and thus earn better rewards.

GoPro is able to measure the benefits it receives from UGC by analysing engagement statistics and the amount of traffic and number of sales this results in. Meanwhile, the sales record speaks for itself as in both 2011 and 2014 the company increased its yearly revenue by upwards of $25 million.

Up to 6,000 videos with the GoPro tag are uploaded to social media each day, and no doubt many more hours of untagged footage are uploaded also. This is key to the company’s ability to consistently increase revenue while adding only $50,000 to its total marketing budget over this period.

The GoPro media team curates the co-creation process, exploring the footage uploaded by customers and finding the freshest and most exciting content. By treating them as collaborators, GoPro instils a sense of ownership in its customers, inspiring loyalty to the brand while simultaneously keeping marketing costs stable.

What’s fun about our content is that there’s something new online for us to consider every day that we walk into the building.

Paul CrandellSenior Vice-President of Marketing at GoPro

How does GoPro reward its customers for UGC?

The aforementioned GoPro Awards scheme encourages users to upload content with incentives based on the value it adds to the brand. Rewards can be redeemed in the form of cash, stash and status.

That is, creators can be compensated financially, with early access to GoPro merchandise, or simply by being tagged in the footage. The latter of these is a particularly powerful incentive as customers’ social status would be boosted by having their personal social media account endorsed by GoPro.

By incentivising its customers to generate content, a continually wider network of potential customers is exposed to GoPro, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing campaign.

What can we learn from GoPro?

GoPro’s strength has been noticing the opportunities available to it and manoeuvring to embed these into its own ecosystems. By building its marketing strategy around User Generated Content, it has achieved perpetual, sustainable growth at a low cost.

By treating its customers as valued collaborators, GoPro has become one of the dominant voices in the technology industry.

John Sewell

Author John Sewell

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