6 lessons from GoPro’s UGC strategy: How to create an engaging online community like GoPro?

GoPro becomes one of the most successful companies in social media marketing. But how? I want to tell you the story of how Nick Woodman launched GoPro and created a fan army.

Nick Woodman (Founder & CEO of GoPro) surfing on a wave with a GoPro action camera
Nick Woodman (Founder & CEO of GoPro) surfing on a wave with a GoPro action camera

Where the idea of GoPro come from?

It was around 2002. Nick was on a surfing adventure around Australia and Indonesia with his closest friends.

But whenever they were doing a cool and new move, they couldn’t capture it. Nick and his friends just hoped to be able to take some videos of these moments.

Nick, an avid surfer, was always faced this challenge. He wondered: “how can we capture films without any help?”

Start small. Dream big.

Nick Woodman — Founder & CEO of GoPro
Nick Woodman — Founder & CEO of GoPro

After the trip, Nick had an idea.

He raised a seed round by borrowing $235,000 from his family. And launched Woodman Labs in 2002.

In a few months, Nick had developed a small camera. This way surfers could capture their memories and share them. After a couple of months, it turned out many surfers needed Nick’s action cameras.

1…2…3…ACTION!

Surfing on a wave with GoPro
Surfing on a wave with a GoPro action camera

The Woodman Labs started developing a camera that could take 10-second videos. When Nick launched the product, all of the adventurers fell in love with this new camera, from Mountain Bikers to professional Snowboarders.

It was 2006 when GoPro born with $355 million in annual revenue.

The massage of GoPro was simple: If your heart beating faster than a hummingbird's wings when you hear about adventure, you belong here — in the GoPro community.

How GoPro become one of the most successful companies in social media marketing?

A couple swimming in the sea with a GoPro action camera
A couple swimming in the sea with a GoPro action camera

Before we digging into why GoPro is successful on social media, I want to tell you how much GoPro is successful.

At least six thousand GoPro-tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. Even with Covid-19 restrictions, the GoPro community on YouTube has reached ten million subscribers.

How GoPro become such a strong brand?

The answer is simple: GoPro sells a lifestyle.

By leveraging user-generated content, they become an enjoyment platform and a place for all adventure-lovers.

“I think our slow, humble beginnings in surf shops, ski shops, bike shops, and motorcycle shops have been extremely important for our success. GoPro is all about celebrating an active lifestyle and sharing that with other people. It’s authentic. It’s not a brand that we went out and bought a bunch of ads for to create.”

— Nick Woodman (Founder & CEO of GoPro)

Here are the 6 lessons from GoPro’s UGC strategy to improve your own UGC and social media strategy.

1 - Start challenges with lucrative incentives

HERO9 Black Million Dollar Challenge
GoPro HERO9 Black Million Dollar Challenge

GoPro invites people into challenges. GoPro is all about adventure and they invite people to share their adventures. And they’re very generous when it comes to incentives.

Million Dollar Challenge is one of them. GoPro offers an equal share of $1 million to every clip in GoPro’s year-end reel.

There are also ongoing challenges like GoPro Awards (e.g. cash and social stoke, or tags and re-shares from GoPro’s official social channels) for anyone who created high-quality content with GoPro’s camera.

Many brands using boring and unauthentic content. And their social media is all about themselves, not customers. That’s why GoPro buys content from customers to posts them to its own channels.

2 - Making partnerships with the right people and right places

Travis Rice — The #13 on Snowboarder magazine’s list of the 20 most influential snowboarders
Travis Rice — The #13 on Snowboarder magazine’s list of the 20 most influential snowboarders

GoPro looking for places where they can find their potential customers. GoPro tries to reach new people by forming partnerships with tourist attractions. Then, GoPro offers cameras to tourists during their stay and encourages them to share their adventures.

Also, GoPro partners with more than 130 athletes, and many other professionals, to share the adventures, excitement, and enjoyment of being a professional skateboarder, snowboarder, or even a DJ.

“You need a GoPro camera and some fun mounts to capture the chaos.”

— Jamie Anderson (American snowboarder)

3 - Hire people who share the same values with your customers

A family skateboarding with a GoPro action camera
A family skateboarding with a GoPro action camera

You can have a powerful brand, but only when you walk the talk. You must show you believe in your own values. As Anton Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

That’s why GoPro doesn’t just tell you about their values, they show their brand message by sharing the story of their employees.

GoPro employees are adventurers, sports enthusiasts, and big fans of the GoPro gadgets. GoPro employees are the company’s advocates.

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”

— Arte Nathan (President of SDW)

4 - Removing frictions from the customer journey

A para jumping with HERO4 Black
A Parachute Jump with GoPro’s HERO4 Black

It’s doesn’t matter which GoPro camera do you use, social sharing is always one of the main parts of GoPro apps.

Simply, you don’t need any additional apps. Just use your GoPro to capture your adventure, edit it and then just hit the share button. Ka-Boom! A user-generated content just shared.

“Instead of trying to get people to work harder, make their job easier.”

— Roger Dooley (Author and Keynote Speaker)

5 - Become a media company

Kevin Richardson — South African YouTuber & GoPro partner
Kevin Richardson — South African YouTuber & GoPro partner

GoPro unlike many brands doesn’t admire itself on social media. User-generated content is the focus. And GoPro’s social media is all about people’s adventures.

The adventurers are the hero of the GoPro online community. That’s exactly why people enjoy watching GoPro social media posts. GoPro entertaining people like Netflix and Walt Disney.

Many brands planning about how to increase conversion, without thinking about engagement. “Buy now my shiny stuff.” is the only thing that many brands are saying on social media.

How GoPro created such an engaging online community?

  • Focus on entertainment
  • Focus on sparking engagement and conversation
  • Create authentic content by showing people and their stories

GoPro with creating its own media doesn’t need to break the bank for getting attention. GoPro has established itself as the leader of the market. Thus, whenever people want to go on an adventure and need a camera, a GoPro camera is always on the top of their minds.

“We’re not just a camera anymore. We’re an enjoyment platform for people around the world to watch.”

— Paul Crandell (Former CMO of GoPro)

6 - A strong and consistent feeling across channels

Motorcycling with a GoPro action camera
Motorcycling with a GoPro action camera

Strong feelings matter. Don’t take my word for it. As Steve Jobs said:

“We don’t stand a chance of advertising with features and benefits and with RAMs and with charts and comparisons. The only chance we have of communicating is with a feeling.”

GoPro brand is all about:

  • Adventure
  • Excitement
  • Enjoyment

Take look at their social media to experience those feelings. GoPro’s social media communicate a strong and consistent feeling. And that creates a sense of belonging.

“I was inspired by how Red Bull isn’t about the drink; it isn’t about the product or the can. Red Bull is a platform to celebrate all that humans are capable of accomplishing. They built a lifestyle movement, a brand that sold this product.”

— Nick Woodman (Founder & CEO of GoPro)

Before going further, I suggest you look at the below video from GoPro’s YouTube. In this video, GoPro introducing their product. This is how strong brands use UGC to promote their products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYX6b1-9Coo

How can you improve your UGC strategy?

  • Find a (strong) feeling that you can link to your brand. Then it’s time to synchronize your social media with that feeling. Every video and picture must send a consistent message.
  • Hire and partner with people who share the same perspective with your customers.
  • Make sure people easily can create and share content. Remove frictions in their journey.
  • Start ongoing and once-in-year challenges and offer incentives.
  • UGC is more engaging and more entertaining than the “Buy now my shiny stuff” type of content. Even if you want to talk about your product, you’d be using user-generated content. Remember, customers are the hero.
  • Bear in mind, for achieving sustainable growth you need to create your own media.

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Ali Eskandari

Ali Eskandari

No Paradox. No Progress.

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