Among the most prominent voices to extol UGC marketing, the “more than a camera” message of GoPro perhaps best exemplifies what’s possible for companies who know how to put brand ambassadors of all kinds to great use.
The intentions of GoPro to be more than just a camera company are spelled out in the company’s public stock filings, where it declared itself to be not a tech or a photography company, but a media company. From the very beginning, GoPro intended to foster its own culture and community and use these resources to power one of the widest reaching and most cost effective marketing campaigns of the modern day.
The underlying wildcards played by GoPro in its UGC success are excitement and inspiration. When you watch the widely-distributed, user-created videos on GoPro’s YouTube channel— GoPro has 3.2 million subscribers and one of YouTube’s most popular channels— you’re certainly not watching a commercial or even listening to a friend recommend a product. Instead, you’re watching feats of bravery, beauty, and wonder.
You’re watching a daredevil fall through the stratosphere, or a death-defying ski jump to escape a massive avalanche, or a POV flight of a soaring eagle. And, what you’re also watching, is entirely user generated. No wonder the economics of UGC make sense. When done right, you’re able to engage emotional facets of the consumer that regular advertising could never even touch.
Find Your Hero
You might be thinking that GoPro is uniquely positioned, as a manufacturer of a powerful light-weight camera, to reap high-quality and highly marketable UGC. You’re right; they are, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to take away here. What GoPro’s success with UGC teaches us is to look deeply into the hearts of our brands.
How can our products brighten a rainy day, or cheer someone up who’s had a run of bad luck, or be used to motivate someone to paint a masterpiece? Where does passion come into the equation? That’s the intersection point between consumer and product that you need locate and broadcast.
Wheeling and Dealing with GoPro
In addition to facilitating and making excellent use of great UGC, GoPro is also in the professional sports business, with over one hundred sponsored athletes. Notable names include professional snowboarder Shaun White, and professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler. Content produced by GoPro-sponsored athletes ranges from ringside sports action to slower paced everyday life footage. In either case, the sponsored content creators for GoPro are apt to inspire other GoPro users, and those in your influencer network, to record their adventures and share them with the world.
Perhaps this is why at least 6,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube every day bearing the “GoPro” tag, a mind-boggling amount of free promotion. This war chest of videos is accompanied by the 388 videos that have been produced by GoPro athletes. While the 388 may not seem like a lot compared to 6,000, they originate from better-known parties and average more than 50 million views each on YouTube.
The Value of Variety
In addition to athletic sponsorships, GoPro has also forged valuable relationships in the travel industry. The company has partnered with 17 Marriott hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean. Marriott guests are offered free GoPro cameras at check-in and are encouraged to use them during their vacation to record and share video content.
It can be deduced from GoPro’s unique forays throughout several industries— from YouTube, to extreme sports, to Caribbean travel— that a lot of brainstorming takes place in the boardrooms at GoPro. Does your company devote enough time to generating new ways to benefit from UGC or influencer marketing?
GoPro’s staggering success with UGC, and the ensuing climb in its stock price following its IPO, is a wake-up call for all companies interested in moving their marketing departments into a new era. This new era is what Kevin Bobowski of Deloitte Consulting calls, “The New Media Reality.”
In his analysis of GoPro’s meteoric UGC success, Bobowski draws our attention to the correlation between the increasing ability of the layman to produce highly appealing visual media, demonstrated by GoPro and Instagram, and the viability of UGC marketing. Better quality user content means more valuable user content. What he’s essentially saying is that UGC is an inevitable trend, a natural function of progress itself.