Building a viral video, agriculture style

It’s true, YouTube is brimming with parody videos, but only a very small percentage of those videos are related to farming and agriculture. Then, the Peterson brothers made headlines with their parody, “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”

The video was covered on The Huffington Post, Good Morning America and essentially every other media outlet in existence. The brothers set quite a precedent, with 8.5 million views to date, and inspired others in agriculture to make their own parodies. It also drew attention to what happens on the farm.

The video sparked conversation.

Now the Midwest Dairy Association is entering the conversation with a parody video, “Feedin’ A Nation.”

Watch the video:

I talked with Donna Moenning, senior vp of integrated communications at the Midwest Dairy Association, about the production. The video premiered on YouTube March 26, but planning took place long before then. According to Moenning, discussions about making a parody video began last fall.

Feedin' a Nation video shoot

The Midwest Dairy Association knew it wanted to premiere another video at the Central Plains Dairy Expo (a tradition that goes back several years), and given the success of the Peterson Brothers’ “I’m Farming and I Grow it” video, it was decided a musical parody was the way to go.

After writing lyrics, scouting locations and contacting dairy farmers in the area, the taping began the first week of March.

The video was filmed on four dairy farms in South Dakota and Iowa. It stars 65 dairy farmers and family members, ages 1 through 81. (My personal favorite scene is when the older gentlemen are gyrating, how can you not enjoy that?)

Moenning said all of the participants were enthusiastic about being in the video and learning the dance moves, even though it was cold outside.

After editing and post production, the parody premiered in front of an audience at the dairy expo. “Hearing the audience’s reactions was wonderful” said Moenning.

The social media side of things

When the video was uploaded on YouTube, things really took off.

According to Samantha Carter, the Midwest Dairy Association’s social media guru, the video had over 10,000 views in the first 48 hours. That’s a big deal considering other videos on the association’s YouTube channel average less than 1,000 views total.

Carter admitted, “It blows our other videos away.”

It also took off on Facebook, as well. “The Facebook post of our video is the most shared post we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a Facebook page since 2009,” said Carter.

The video now has over 100,000 views. It’s a social media success story.

Why use social media?

“Conversations are happening on social media,” said Sherry Newell, senior communications manager for the Midwest Dairy Association, “If dairy and farming want to be part of the conversation, they need to be where people are talking about them.”

Newell is right. YouTube recently announced it has more than a billion unique users every month. Facebook says 618 million people sign in to its service every day. That’s a lot of conversations. Conversations farmers need to be part of.

Social media still remains the cheapest, fastest and most accessible way for farmers to answer questions, address concerns and, let’s face it, entertain their customers.

It seems cliche, but social media is changing the face of agriculture. Farmers are still milking cows, baling hay, spraying fields and “Feedin’ A Nation.” The only difference is now they’re doing it with cameras in hand.

Note: This story originally appeared on The Social Silo in April 2013.

About the Author

Will Flannigan is Farm and Dairy's online editor. He grew up in Salem, Ohio, and is new to the agricultural scene. Will enjoys hiking, community theater and learning new things. More Stories by Will Flannigan

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