A communicator’s look at the viral success of “I’m Farming and I Grow It”
The goal of every person who has uploaded an online video is to see that video go viral. Three brothers – Greg, Kendel and Nathan Peterson – know what it means to reach that goal. Their video “I’m Farming and I Grow It” is a parody of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” and tells their agriculture story.
The video has given glimpses into Kansas farm life to people from Russia, Japan and beyond. In just three weeks, the video has been viewed almost 5.9 million times on YouTube. Again, that’s 5.9 MILLION times.
What has made this video so successful at spreading messages about farming? What lessons can we take from their success for our next agvocating video?
1) Pop Culture Connection
I love a George Strait song, but unfortunately, most of the world doesn’t listen to country music. The Peterson brothers were savvy enough to parody a very popular song that bridges to non-rural audiences and people around the world. Re-writing lyrics for LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” (the music video that has more than 240 million views) resulted from a whimsical joke, but often when we’re brain-storming, don’t some of our best ideas come unexpectedly?
2) Their Fun, Our Fun
The scene ideas and smiles on their faces show that the Peterson brothers had fun making the video. Watching their fun makes us smile and giggle too. Happiness and laughter are strong triggers for wanting to watch a video again and share it on our Facebook or Twitter.
3) Done Just Well Enough
Greg’s training in video production is obvious. The video is well done, but it doesn’t have a high-gloss corporate polish. This almost-level of professionalism makes the video feel more authentic while not distracting. We know from their outtake videos that they put a lot of time into getting the scenes just right. Their determination paid off.
4) Media Mix
Fans’ sharing the video in social media alone did not result in millions of views. Traditional media – newspaper, radio and TV – started talking about the video and interviewing the family, which made readers, listeners and viewers who may never have caught the video online seek it out. Or at least if they had already heard about the video, they were more likely to click and watch it when its link popped up in friends’ posts. This video’s success is a good reminder that social media is just one part of a media mix for successful communications.
5) Real People
These farm boys were real. Sure, they cleaned up for the filming in the grocery story, but when they were on the farm, they were wearing what we called at home “farm clothes.” Show farmers and ranchers in their regular settings. Let them sing or speak from the heart and capture them doing what they love.
What other factors do you think played into this video’s success?
Heather Koehler works on the AdFarm public relations team. The only thing separating her from corn fields and cattle (for at least part of the day) is her office window.