I’m sure most of you have heard “Video Killed The Radio Star” by one-hit-wonder “The Buggles.” Even though the song was released in 1979 and video had yet to reach the fervor it saw in the ’80s and beyond, the message couldn’t have been more on target and on trend.
Although “The Buggles” were obviously referring to music videos in their hit song, the theory still stands. Fast forward to today. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website they visited in the past 30 days.
With consumers’ growing interest in getting to know where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and who’s growing it, as a producer, you have an exclusive opportunity to share your story with the public. Video is by far one of the best ways to do it.
With his professional experience shooting video for the Big 10 Network, and his years on the family farm, Robert Holthouse of Holthouse Farms in Willard, OH, is well aware of the potential return on investment video has to offer you as a grower.
Getting To Know You
According to Holthouse, the No. 1 benefit of video for growers is the ability to tell a story to their customers and to forge a connection between them and the product.
“For us, it’s taking a bell pepper and turning it into our bell pepper,” Holthouse explains. “It gives it our spin and story about our product. So rather than just going to the store to buy a bell pepper, now people know how it’s grown, what our business ethics are, and our family story.”
As a way to better connect with his customers, Holthouse creates product-specific videos on his website and has placed QR codes on the operation’s squash labels that users can scan. Once the labels are scanned, users will be taken to the farm’s website where they can learn more about the product.
He’s also heard from customers who have expressed interest in learning more about a notoriously difficult-to-cut variety of pumpkin they produce every fall. He plans on creating a video centered around how to cut and prepare it.
“It’s things like this which allow you to have interactions with consumers you otherwise wouldn’t get to have. They’re one step removed, so people love having that connection with their produce,” Holthouse says.
He also mentions this type of “consumer-targeted” video is an ideal tool for operations that have farm or farmers’ markets or CSAs. To appeal to this particular audience, Holthouse suggests creating longer videos at the start of the year to share the mission of the CSA or market to the customers, and leave it up as the intro to your website.
Then, throughout the growing season, you can post shorter videos that update customers on what produce is available, and show production and harvesting shots to give them a behind-the-scenes view of how their food is grown.
This way, Holthouse says, the content is constantly changing and evolving, and there is a better likelihood of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.
When To Shoot, What To Shoot, And How
When shooting video, Holthouse suggests taking the viewer through a process — rather than shooting everything in sight — to keep viewers engaged in the content.
“For example, I might do a video of plastic being laid in the field. To do that, I’m going to start with the ground fitting, then I’m going to go to beds being made, then I’m going to go to plastic being laid down, then transplanting,” he says.
“It can be tempting to go around and take them from cool shot to cool shot, but before you start shooting, think about what you want to show and the order you want to show it. That takes people through a story.”
Holthouse also recommends growers experiment using unique perspectives and angles to give their shots some added personality. For example, instead of shooting all wide shots of a field, packing line, etc., Holthouse will start wide to set up the scene, then zoom in closer to the item or the process for a closer look.
“Think about it as if the camera was the plant or was in the soil. For example, I’ll run a GoPro through the packing line, and then I’ll pack it into the box, so it looks like it’s from the perspective of a pepper,” Holthouse explains. “Getting into medium shots or super-tight shots can make something a lot more visually interesting. So focus on the interior of a picking bucket as somebody is filling it up, and then pull back with the second shot and focus on the person who’s filling it.”
Push It Through Social Media
Holthouse says his website, Twitter, and Facebook are the primary platforms he uses to share his videos. Typically, he’ll upload the video to YouTube and then post it to both social media accounts to make sure its reaches the widest audience. The videos are available to his webpage visitors through a live feed from both accounts on the front page.
“If you post a cool video, you can get people to re-tweet it, or share it on their Facebook wall. Now all of a sudden, you’ve got their 500 friends who have access to something they wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and now your name is potentially in that many more people’s heads,” Holthouse says.
As a final word to growers, no matter what platform you’re using to post and share your videos, above all else, Holthouse says the video needs to capture the human experience.
“It’s very important to me when I do something, to capture the personal aspects and the personal practices and philosophies of the people that are doing it. That’s what the consumers really like to hear. They want to know that you care about your ground — and most farmers do.”