GoPro Boosts Sales via Snap and Share

Makes a real impression on Instagram and YouTube

Polaroid may be passé (save for its embrace by hipsters), and thanks to high-res smartphones, Flip and Kodak are either RIP or on life support. But with its novel approach to content marketing (and impressive specs), GoPro is one camera brand that’s bucking the trend.

To be sure, the camera/camcorder brand is far from typical. For starters, its products are not really meant to be handheld. GoPro’s HD Hero3 cameras are sold with mounts so users can affix them to their surfboards, mountain bikes, helmets and cars, and then film or photograph whatever they’re doing.

As its “Be a Hero” tagline suggests, GoPro relies on its users to share pictures and videos with friends and others via social networks like Instagram and YouTube. “They’re pretty central [to the brand’s content marketing strategy],” said Lee Topar, GoPro’s director of online marketing.

Indeed, GoPro’s YouTube channel—which counts more than 208 million video views—is full of brand- and user-generated videos, be it swimming tigers from the Australia Zoo, a backboard view of a college basketball player’s dunk or Porter, “the world’s first driving dog”—all appended with some variation of “shot on my GoPro.”

An Instagram search for the #gopro hashtag returns 310,216 photos even though GoPro has posted fewer than 300 photos to its Instagram account.

“Figuring out the right content to market is not easy,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction, a San Francisco-based integrated agency. “[But] GoPro has it easy; they have a camera they’re marketing.”

And cameras are made to produce great content, allowing GoPro’s customers to become its best marketers. So why go crazy on 30-second spots and traditional media spending? “Basically we have a content marketing approach to our paid media,” Topar said. “We don’t lead with product messaging.”

Ahead of the HD Hero3’s release last October, GoPro upped its online ad budget eightfold from the previous year in order to expand its reach and boost sales of the $200-and-up device, but those ads typically promoted the content users could see for free on GoPro’s YouTube channel or Instagram profile. GoPro also produces its own content for ads, but Topar said many of its TV spots feature videos licensed from GoPro customers.

Topar declined to discuss GoPro’s sales figures though the company announced last month that it’s valued at $2.25 billion and reportedly has sold 3 million cameras over the past three years. “We’re definitely on a new plateau of growth both brandwise and saleswise,” he said.