GoPro goes Social

SCapling    October 14, 2015

Organization name: GoProGoPro Logo

Industry: Consumer photography & videography

Contact name: Nick Woodman – CEO/Founder,  Adam Dornbusch – Senior Director of Content Distribution, Andrew Shipp – Social Media Manager

Web references: Wikipedia, INQUISITR , NY Daily News, YouTube, Fast Company , Simply Measured , Small Business Trends

About GoPro

An American manufacturer of action cameras used in extreme action videography, this San Francisco based company was founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman (formerly Woodman Labs).

It started in 2002 when surfer, Nick Woodman, wanted to capture quality action shots of his surfing experiences to share with his family and friends and realized the need for a camera system that could capture professional quality images of his surfing experiences. Based on the desire of he and his friend to “Go Pro” in surfing, this desire inspired the name GoPro.

Later that year he created the first GoPro prototype which was a waterproof 35mm film camera attached to a wrist strap which Nick sewed in the back of his Volkswagen van and sold to surf shops along the coast. The film camera would evolve into a smaller digital version in 2007, earning Woodman enough money to take race car driving lessons. The driving company offered to rent a camera for $100 for Nick to use in order to capture his experience. This seemed ridiculous to Nick, who had his own GoPro wrist camera with him. They configured a way to strap it to the roll bar and after his track run he reviewed the footage and suddenly it was clear…GoPro needed to be capable of mounting to anything and everything, not just your wrist.

The GoPro has since evolved and so have the business and the strategy due to social media.

The strategy

With the advent of  numerous accessories that allowed users to attach the camera to their head, chest, wrist, foot, a stick, a bike, a car – you get the idea – the marketing plan started with hiring  stuntmen and extreme sport athletes to show off the capability of its small high-performance cameras, which GoPro markets as the “world’s most versatile.”

The 12-year-old company started is YouTube Channel four years ago, but since the end of 2014 they’ve made a huge investment in their use of online videos that resulted in a shift of who creates the content.

Adam Dornbusch, GoPros senior director of content distribution, told The Daily News that the change has come organically as more and more people began submitting videos from their GoPro camera.

The company definitely realized the opportunity toward the end of 2013 when they launched a couple of videos that were submitted on YouTube and subsequently  received a large number of hits, Dornbusch said.

The result

“We realized there was such an opportunity here. The users were not only using our cameras but were attaching our name (in the titles and descriptions) to incorporate with us,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll get a call and someone will say, ‘That’s a great video you guys did.’ We have nothing to do with that. People just want to be associated with our product.”

Suddenly GoPro’s YouTube strategy was at a much larger scale than they realized, he said. The saw the opportunity – take advantage of their most effective sales tool  – their own customers! It was a marketers dream, using free online videos to showcasing everyday people doing fun or remarkable things with their cameras.

GoPro began multiplying the amount of videos they released going from a few a week — with only one or two submitted from the public a month — to as many as four a day. Read more

“Customer videos and word of mouth was doing more to promote GoPro than we ever could. GoPro is now in the hands of the people, and the people say good things” Woodman explains.

GoPro now has a team that scours YouTube daily for videos to feature online.

YouTube star Alex Chacon, who was featured in a GoPro video of him riding his motorcycle on the world’s highest road, told the Daily News, “It was really cool to be part of a production. It was a dream of mine to be part of a GoPro launch video,” “It was so awesome. Everyone wants to be part of a launch video.”

“We get users to submit content and are able to distribute it to as many people as we can over the world,” Dornbusch said. “They are using their (cameras to capture) their greatest passion. What the camera enables you to do a whole new level of content capture and creation.”

In 2014, GoPro was named one of the top 5 “most viewed” YouTube channels. The company’s channel has over 2.6 million subscribers, and videos rack up millions of views in mere weeks and sees an estimated 6,000 videos every day are shot with the unique camera  —  the total time of the GoPro videos span 2.8 years, YouTube reports.

While organic growth is responsible for their initial success Andrew Shipp, Social Media Manager for GoPro recently remarked that  “The value of organic posts is essentially gone. Every platform is moving to a pay to play model. Be sure to carve out budget, even if it’s small, to target your social posts to the right people.

Shipp goes on to impart some additional social media wisdom – “It is important to remember some content performs better on different platforms. Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are still very photo-centric platforms, whereas Facebook is positioning itself as a destination for video content. So, be sure you consider the platform and content type for the highest engagement on each platform.”

GoPro has created an overwhelming user community of followers on Facebook which offers their biggest video sharing platform boasting nearly 9.1M likes….Impressive.

The reward 

They are starting to accommodate the contributions with plans to change their website to make it easier for people to know how and where to submit videos, Dornbusch said. There is also a new “bonus program” for users whose videos are licensed by GoPro, he said. They will receive $1,000 if their videos reach a million views, he said.


The company continues to push in social media and combines its brand prowess with other heavy hitters, like Red Bull,  BMW and recently signed a partnership agreement with the NHL to bring the camera company’s social media success to the ice.

Since the partnership was announced in January this year, there have been more than 51,000 mentions of the term “GoPro” combined with mentions of “NHL.”

Over 33,500 unique users have Tweeted about the NHL and GoPro, and over 10,400 people have posted about the two brands on Facebook.

The partnership has also drawn the attention of major news channels. The combination of keywords have been used by The Wall Street Journal, Techcrunch, CNBC, and Fortune Magazine, to name a few.

The Simply Measure Blog chart below outlines the audience reach of each indicating an impressive lead for a 12 year old company maintaining that having the right social strategy and strategists in place can carry “your team”.

NHL GoPro comparison-2015-01-31-16.24.13

GoPro by the numbers  

The power of user-generated content thanks to GoPro’s recent financial disclosures leading up to its public offering in June 2014. The company more than doubled its net income from 2010 to 2011 to $24.6 million but only spent $50,000 more in marketing costs to do it, according to Wall St. Daily. And they repeated the feat in 2013, increasing marketing costs by only $41,000, but making $28 million more in net income.

Their adoption and success overall is staggering. Sales increased from $350,000 in 2005 to over $500M in 2012 and generated nearly a $1B in 2013.

gp_revenue_growth chart

GoPro was the top-selling camcorder — by dollars and units — in the U.S. in 2013. HERO cameras represented 45% share of the U.S. camcorder market — a huge gain over just 11% reported in December 2011, the company states.

The next step

GoPro wants to be much more than a hardware-maker with an affordable marketing strategy.

The company wants to evolve into the user-generated media company of the future. And in that regard, GoPro is in the forefront of a new media certainty.

Viewers can tune in to a full GoPro channel on Virgin America Airlines or stream the video through an Xbox. What viewers see when they tune in is one of the most remarkable, branded video experiences available. Viewers get a front seat to the adventures of world-class skiers and snowboarders, BASE jumpers, and mountain bikers, not to mention a range of video outside of the world of extreme sports, including a stunning video of an African Pelican learning how to fly or a den of rattle snakes.

Clearly they make a well liked and well awarded product which has been recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a 2013 Technology and Engineering Emmy® Award in the category of Inexpensive Small Rugged HD Camcorders and they are a 4 time “Webby Award Winner”.


GoPro is on the right track, they have redefined an industry and become a social media giant by creating a community of followers that are taking their GoPros to every corner of the earth and producing videos and views of the world most people have or will never see. They have also allowed all of us to be  the star of our own video and take our 15 minutes of fame…should we want it.

They have learned about their users, engaged them and much of the company’s success is attributed to that engagement. They have taken full advantage of the viral video craze of extreme sports and proven that a small camera, in the hands of the right people, can create captivating content that will attract an audience no matter what purpose it is used for: social media marketing, advertising, or television programming.

Submitted by: Scapling, University of Waterloo

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