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Viral Marketing Lessons from GoPro’s Hero3 Launch

John Doherty —  November 2, 2012
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You may or may not know that I am an adrenaline sports junkie. As a rock climber, skier, bike rider, and a recent first time skydiver (with plans to get my certification), I love watching content involving these sports. In fact, one of my Saturday rituals is to read an article or two on 99U, formerly The99Percent, and then to see what is live on RedBull TV.

That is, until I discovered the magic of GoPro’s content and now that is a go-to.

GoPro recently launched their Hero3 camera, which is considerably lighter, faster, and better (also more expensive) than my Hero2 which I bought a few months ago to chronicle my bicycle journeys around Brooklyn and NYC.

I had always wondered why GoPro didn’t do more marketing, and was genuinely curious what they would do when they launched a new product. After all, I’m pretty interested in viral marketing product launches, so let’s examine what GoPro did and how they successfully launched their new product.

Have An Audience

The first point in my post about viral was about building an audience before you even launch. This can apply to new companies to be sure (my post was aimed at bloggers/startups), but it also applies to existing companies coming out with new iterations of their product.

GoPro already has 324,446 subscribers on their Youtube page and over 175,594,678 views of their videos. That’s millions, yes.

To put this in perspective, RedBull (which everyone in the world has heard of at this point, essentially), has 465,717,195. This may be 3x the number of views (and yes we are talking millions), but also remember that RedBull is a media powerhouse and GoPro is still a bootstrapped startup, having never taken funding.

GoPro also has over 315,000 followers on Twitter, where they regularly tweet out their fanbase’s videos.

And beyond all this, GoPro has some of the best action sports athletes in the world, like skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, rally driver Ken Block, and more who are constantly promoting their content and filming new awesome videos.

I’d say GoPro had the audience down.

Invite Influencers

The next step was to invite their influencers. You know what GoPro did? They invited many top athletes, photographers/videographers, and more to San Francisco (where GoPro is based) to shoot video the new Hero3.

Let’s get this straight. GoPro releases a new product at a launch party (for a camera?? It was like a concert), then invites a ton of influencers down to shoot footage with the new camera and then create/curate the content for GoPro? Yes, that’s exactly what happened.

They invited people like Chase Jarvis, who tweeted about it with the hashtag to his 175k followers (I’m one of them):

They also had Shaun White (snowboarder) create a spoof video of being sad about not being invited to the party:

Build Buzz

Building buzz is obviously one of the hardest parts of a product launch, but GoPro leveraged a few smart viral factors in order to get everyone (myself included) paying attention.

Tweets and Hashtags

GoPro started tweeting about an announcement coming up a few days before with tweets, then during the launch this tweet came out:

Subsequently following by tweets like:

GoPro has always used their #gopro hashtag, which is quite well used by the fanbase:

But for this launch, they have also used the #hero3 hashtag, which has had over 13,000 uses in the past 15 days:

Check out the Analytics from Topsy Analytics:

Curate Content on Multiple Platforms

GoPro is well-situated to curate content around the launch because of the nature of their business, but they did it in many places:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Facebook:

Instagram:

YouTube:

Keep Sharing

It is interesting to note that GoPro is still sharing content using the hashtag #hero3 even over 3 weeks after launch.

They’re still curating content around it on their different social media channels:

What To Change

GoPro did so much right in this launch that there is not much left to critique, but I always like to think “If I had done this launch, what would I have done differently?” I hesitate to make suggestions, as I love the organicness of the spreading of content, but here are the few things I would have changed.

1. Different Night to Launch

The first qualm I had with the launch is that they launched on the same night as one of the presidential debates. When you’re trying to leverage the viral factor, don’t launch when another big event is occurring if you can at all avoid it. They received a few nasty tweets:

But their fans were more out in force:

2. Pre-seed Content

If I were on GoPro’s marketing team, I would have done more than just social media to start driving interest and speculation. By the time the launch came, everyone basically knew that they were announcing a new camera (some influencers had already tweeted about it). So why not share comparison videos between the Hero2 and Hero3, without explicitly saying it?

3. Capture Emails

All marketers know that email converts like crazy. For the next launch, I would recommend a simple landing page saying something to the effect of:

We have an exciting announcement coming up on (date). Sign up here to hear about it!

Just do it guys. You won’t regret it.


Overall I’d give GoPro’s launch an B+. It was extremely well done, but the fact that it occurred during the debates and that they failed to capture email addresses brings it down a bit.

I hope you’ve learned something here! If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

John Doherty

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I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

8 responses to Viral Marketing Lessons from GoPro’s Hero3 Launch

  1. Love this post! I just bought my Hero 2 a couple months ago as well, and was heartbroken to see it was already out of date!! :P But i agree, so foolish to do it on the night of a debate, I feel like there has to have been some motive behind it? Maybe since most of their marketing was via social, they thought that’s when they had people sitting at their computers?

    Either way, love the post! And when are you sharing your own videos!? I’m editing a couple of mine right now! I’d love to see them!

  2. Anthony Pensabene (or Content Muse when dressed in costume) November 2, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I’ve seen guys and gals mess around with these in Colorado.

    Funny, I was thinking the other day how brands are likely to find grass roots help, within their fan community. As marketers, we’re attempting to get in the heads of consumers, but you serve as both. (Shure made suggestions to Ben Folds as another example)

    If I were managing a brand, I may monitor brand mentions, not only for reputation management purposes, but for actually listening in for direct and indirect reviews, suggestions, possibly using say Follerwonk to see if followers have “SEO” “marketing” “strategist” or so on in their profiles.

    Does GoPro have any space on its site for user videos? For instance maybe a user of the day/week vid? I used to read Surfer mag. They sometimes would have local shops compete against one another in locations. I thought it was a good idea to incorporate the sport, competition, and readers…

    or maybe if they got up with affiliates per some states, and expanded their domain, say .col for colorado, they could incorporate/intrigue users based on state/targeted interest in that state.

    I also like how you tracked the #hero3 .. definite drop off in usage. Wonder if they segmented per sport (#hero3surf) or (#hero3ski) it would intrigue more people to use it for specific purposes, perhaps attracting feedback on product improvement per sport…

    I’m also more of a marathon and not race guy. I wonder if rather than using all that celeb swag for the launch party, if it would be more effective to just let an athlete/celeb (or “heroes” own the cam for a week.. say give White the cam for a week and tell him to use it as he would… as a skater/skier.. as an actual user..

    ..just some thoughts.. I liked the tracking/exploration of strategy here.

  3. The email capture would be def in the right direction. Everything else seems to flow and I guess when you are successful you kinda of forget some of the little things. Thats why there are people like you John that can point them out. The videos are amazing!

  4. It is very useful to have an audience before the launch.

    I remember when Groupon started in Houston, Texas, they captured email addresses for weeks leading up to the announcement of the first groupon.

    A photo I took was featured in the first Houston groupon! An awesome surprise. :)

    Since groupon formed a large audience in Houston before the announcement of their first deal, the offers were very successful in Houston just because of the novelty of the concept and the eagerness to seize rare deals.

    An audience before launch definitely influences the buzz factor too! :D

  5. Go Pro basically built the sports action camera movement through their marketing. I did see some of their stuff with this launch and I believe the new camera is awesome I agree that this one was not as well executed as their others.

  6. Right on man! Great post!

    I love and hate this at the same time, because I have been wanting to do a big GoPro related post for a while now! I need to get my writing into gear!

    GoPro’s simple approach to their inbound marketing campaign has been one I have admired for years! They seriously took the best funnels for their product and applied them in beautiful fashion. GoPro has inspired me over the years to do more than just ride my bike or do extreme sports, but to revamp my way of thinking about inbound marketing.

    This does not really apply too well to the topic of the launch but they have a few marketing tactics that keeps user-generated content and engagement always spinning in their favor. One strategy they have used over the years (and amped up since this launch) is their “Everything we make” campaign. Basically you sign up on the backend of their site with your address, your name and your email and you have a chance to win EVERYTHING that they make. They do this drawing daily and announce the two winners for the day via social media, twitter & facebook. This method has people constantly viewing and moving through their site, as well as peaking engagement via social media each and every day.

    GoPro has implemented many little strategies like this over the years, and have had rapid success.

    They are seriously an inspiration for e-sports, for marketers and for product-driven startups alike.

    Great post man!

  7. Add “pinterest, amazon, ebay Example so this Blog will more Works for E-commerce Sites also :)

    Do not take it in your mind.

  8. Awesome post – for more on their online marketing check out this case study about GoPro’s success: http://modernmarketingreview.blogspot.com/2013/03/online-marketing-and-gopro-case-study.html