GoPro has five main web pages, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, YouTube page, and an official website. The company, which has been around since 2002, has only really launched into the public eye in the past three or four years. And that doesn't happen by chance. Their Facebook page was created in early 2009, and since then they've gathered almost 5 million likes on their page, gaining a million every four to six months since mid 2011. Their twitter page, which has been around since at least June 2012 (though it is hard to determine their actual account creation date), has over 500,000 followers. On Instagram they have a few more followers than twitter, but still in the 500,000 range, was created in March of 2012. And lastly on YouTube, they have over 700,000 followers, and over 220,000,000 video views.
Additionally Google or Bing searches for "HD Camera", "Sport Camera" let alone HD or Sport Video Camera all have GoPro in the number one spot. And that doesn't happen by chance either. The market for HD cameras and for sport cameras is massive, with many large competitors varying from Nikon to the Contour+. And clearly the company reaps direct profits from being the number one hit on these sites.
In GoPro's "about us" video they twice refer to the online experience. The CEO mentions how the companies vision is to enable consumers to "document their lives and share it online" and goes on to mention that the "most personally satisfying thing is going on the Facebook page" and seeing just how many people share their stories online. Beyond the brand of GoPro, the company has established a social network of people connecting and communicating their stories. This cannot be undervalued.
But how did they do it? Why did GoPro become so successful. Well, a few reasons. Firstly they embraced the number one rule of online marketing. They created not just good, but awesome content. They created content worth sharing. Simply having a product that enables users to have an awesome experience is not enough, nor is even having a product that records having an awesome experience. There are loads of other cameras on the market, and not a ton of features that make the GoPro so much superior of a product than others in its category, especially at its price point. However, GoPro created avenues for its customers and their friends to share their experiences.
On Facebook and Twitter they have a minimum of three daily posts. A daily video, photo, and their promotional "Everything we make" daily giveaway. On top of that, they have GoPro users sharing their videos on their Facebook page and tweeting about their awesome videos including "#GoPro". Even further, they often post content about celebrities and athletes using their products, generating even more interest. Online content gets old fast. By constantly updating their page with awesome content, and having such a high standard, users are compelled to constantly check their sites and watch their material. Seemingly everything that GoPro posts online gets hundreds, if not thousands of likes, and dozens if not hundreds of shares, not to mention countless comments. And that goes on daily.
Notably that takes a large investment. The daily giveaway costs them upwards of $700 (retail), annually that's over $250,000. Even if they could produce the products for half of that, its still a huge investment on something that is only accessible online. Additionally they have to have staff go through submitted material for daily photos and videos, and constantly update these pages.
This large investment is only sustainable if its paying off. Which, undoubtedly it is. The daily giveaway used to be weekly, but with increase demand for the product and increased sales, giving away a GoPro might actually be the best way to encourage someone else to buy it. And this is a key lesson for other companies as well. A giveaway attracts attention to a product not only online, but when the user gets it as well. When a friend sees someone watching a GoPro video, or using the camera to record some activity they will be much more likely to trust the brand, as opposed to doing the additional research on GoPro's competitors, despite price or any slight differences in features. The constant barrage of content only intensifies the likelihood that someone sees GoPro content instead of a competitors.
But the return on investment does not stop there. By securing the number one sport for not only major searches, but also for more specific ones such as "Helmet Sport Camera" and "Surfing HD Camera" consumers are more likely to not only trust their brand on that alone, but also click on their website.
Inevitably one would say, that they can only do all of this because they have an incredible product, a product that can go viral, or that they captured the market first. And while these are important considerations, they do not explain why other camera companies fail to do the same thing. While there is an increase in attempts to do so Nikon's page is filled with cool photos from its various cameras, but drastically less user engagement. Contour, one of GoPro's main competitors, has one daily post on Facebook, no giveaway, far fewer tweets on Twitter, no Instagram, and a shadow of GoPro's YouTube page. As a result, far less engagement, less opportunities for potential customers to hear about the product, and an impression that content made with the Contour isn't really worth sharing.
These notes can be applied to almost any market. Looking at the computer chips market, Intel has a much more complete and professional online presence than its top competitor AMD (which there is likely little coincidence that you probably haven't heard of). Even Intel offers online giveaways and models what you can do with their products online, gathering an impressive 18,000,000 likes, compared to AMD's pitiful 1,200,000.
Any market can access and create awesome content worth sharing, which is at the heart of online and social media marketing. Giving people reason to produce links to your web pages and providing an awesome online environment means higher search rankings, increased trust, and more customers. Failing to do this just means missing out on some slice of the market's metaphorical pie, and boy does that pie taste good.