Last year I took a course called Strategic Brand Management taught by Professor John Fisher, and on the first day, he assigned each student to write their favorite brand on a piece of paper and bring it to the next class. After much thought, which consisted of me going through my Instagram account and looking up companies online, I remembered one brand that has stood out to me for years—GoPro. As one of the few brands I follow on social media, I am consistently entertained by their posts and their artistic, exciting content. Unlike many other media and camera companies, GoPro maintains an extremely close relationship with consumers and fans alike. This bond with a rapidly established target audience of travelers, thrill-seekers, adventure junkies, extreme sports athletes, and fans of which completely reshaped GoPro’s business, especially in terms of their marketing and advertising strategies.
GoPro creates value through their well-made products and incredibly strong brand. Over the years since GoPro’s IPO, their stock has gone down significantly, which can mostly be attributed, in fact, to how well their products have been made since the beginning of the company. Following the Technology Adoption Lifecycle, once GoPro became a big name, it had many early adopters, early majority, and late majority consumers, and one could argue that GoPro as an entire brand is in its laggard stage currently. Most consumers who were interested bought an earlier version of a GoPro camera, which has an unknown lifetime because very few cameras ever do break. Additionally, GoPro has made new improvements in video capturing capabilities, but few too many to distinguish a need to purchase a completely new camera at a steep price.
GoPro does one thing that many companies dare not venture into. GoPro gives its consumers the control of the brand through user-generated content (UGC), which is GoPro’s main way to maintain such a loyal connection with consumers and brand fanatics. UGC is any form of uploaded content created by a user of a system or service that is made public. In terms of GoPro specifically, this can include photographs and videos uploaded to Instagram, videos uploaded to Youtube, or even pictures or videos submitted to GoPro’s own website, as well as any other forms of media taken by GoPro products uploaded online. GoPro encourages consumers to upload using the hashtag #GoPro or to submit straight through their own website, where they can choose videos or photographs of the day or also make video montages from their internal production team.
Additionally, GoPro regularly spurs customers to upload for different prizes. During a single contest where GoPro might hand out five new cameras, they will receive thousands of uploads, which generates interest and awareness outside of their reach. Their ability to successfully engage their audience to create content on behalf of the brand drives an authentic relationship between the company and consumer—one that is genuine and beneficial to both parties. GoPro sets an example to companies globally of how to utilize consumers as a tool to maintain high engagement and interest in the brand.
Throughout the years, GoPro has built a solid foundation to empower customers to do the grunt work for the company. Surprisingly, leading up to GoPro’s IPO in 2014, the company increased net income in 2013 by $28 million with only a meager increase of $41,000 in advertising spend, all because of their ingenious usage of UGC. GoPro encourages users to upload their photos and videos through the GoPro mobile application, which allows users to wirelessly store, save, and upload content to the GoPro website and the users’ personal devices.
This way, users do not have to worry about saving content strictly to their laptops, but are rather given an easy path to sharing experiences through social media on their phones. Additionally, GoPro relies heavily on their sponsored athletes and influencers to produce riveting content. In place of art directors, acting casts, and a team of videographers, GoPro simply provides cameras to well-known athletes, travelers, and adventure junkies, and in turn the brand receives exorbitant amounts of marketing and advertising gold to use on their social platforms, which further interests other potential consumers. Average customers and well-known athletes and influencers become GoPro’s advertising, showcasing their adventures and experiences, as well as the camera’s capabilities. Nick Woodman, the GoPro founder and CEO explains the brand’s content marketing decision where GoPro believes
“The best stories are being lived by our customers… We want to help people self-document themselves engaged in their interests or passions.”
Instead of pushing products, GoPro chooses to embrace UGC and push experiences, adventures, and a particular lifestyle. GoPro’s decisions as a camera and media company garner trust and better customer experiences, which increases sales down the line. More companies need to look towards GoPro as an example of how to engage, satisfy, and line up values with target audiences by having the customers be the brand’s voice. As customers become more passionate about brands, they will become brand advocates, creating communities surrounding a company’s products and services.