A Big Night in a Small Town

There are a few things that are guaranteed to draw a big crowd, good food and good entertainment. When you live in a rural area these can be hard to come by. However, neither was in short supply in my area one Saturday night.

The Whiteside County Cattleman’s Association hosted their 54th Annual Dinner at a local high school. The meal was catered by a local meat locker and included roast beef (of course!), mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fruit, coleslaw, and pie for dessert! YUM!

Peterson Farm Bros at Whiteside County Cattleman's Dinner

But the real treat came after dessert. The auditorium filled with people of all ages.   The main event of the night was listening to the Peterson Farm Bros. A few years ago, this trio of farm boys created parodies that went viral and now they’re minor celebrities. Throughout the night, they explained their journey to fame and sang some of their parodies with the music videos along the way.

During their presentation, the brothers talked about the reasons they believe their videos have gone viral. They think it is because their videos include animals, beautiful scenery, a family atmosphere, and most importantly, are based on popular songs.

Peterson Farm Bros, Morrison, IL

As Greg Peterson was talking about this, I couldn’t help but think back to a book we had just read in one of my classes, Contagious by Jonah Berger. The book talks about the exact same thing, why things catch on. I think the Peterson brothers’ reasoning for their success is on the right track.

  1. Animals and Scenery – Emotion

One of Berger’s steps to make things catch on or make videos go viral is emotion. Emotion pulls people in and makes them feel something so that they want to share it with others. The animals and pastoral scenes in the Peterson Bros’ videos could bring up positive, fun, or even peaceful emotions for their viewers.

  1. Family – Stories

Another powerful way to spread content is through stories. Stories appeal to our senses and help us connect to the message. In the Peterson Bros’ videos, they include the whole family. They tell short stories of how their whole family is involved in farming.

  1. Popular Songs – Social Currency and Triggers

Finally, the Peterson Bros said they give most of the credit of their videos’ success to the popularity of the songs they parodied. One of their most popular videos has been “Farmer Style” a parody of one of the most popular YouTube videos ever, “Gangnam Style.” Their parody has gotten almost 16 million views while the original music video has over 2 billion views. This is a great example of Berger’s ideas of using social currency and triggers to create virality. Social currency involves other popular things that are going on and making your content be something that will make you look like an insider or are one step ahead of your peers. Sharing a fun parody of a popular song could show your friends that you are more up to date or involved in the fad than they are.

Additionally, using triggers, or using one idea to remind you of another, can help a piece of content catch on. These videos could be using the trigger of the already popular song to spread their videos. If you hear “Gangnam Style” on the radio, you may remember the “Farmer Style” parody you saw and want to show it to your friends.

There are many ideas and theories to why some online content becomes wildly popular and other content doesn’t. These are just a few of those ideas. However, I think every one can agree that whatever the Peterson Farm Bros did, worked.

All in all, I had a blast listening to these agvocates talk and sing. I also enjoyed the short chat that I had with Greg (a fellow agricultural communications major). I appreciate what they are doing to advocate for agriculture and can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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