Gone viral?

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On Jan. 5, 2023, an Instagram Reel (a short-form video on the Instagram social media platform) I made surpassed 2 million plays. Essentially “going viral” for the ol’ grass-whispering farmer. My farmer friends asked “How much is that worth?” Zilch. Doing it for fun releases the pressure for money and I can concentrate solely on the moment. And if folks don’t like it, who cares?

For the “influencers” out there, this milestone is hardly worth the 15-second look-see. But for me, with the sausage fingers and new technology, it’s a significant accomplishment in the art of telling stories and practicing video making within my Pop Pop niche.

So what the heck is considered viral anyway? I read somewhere that if videos perform way above your own average Reel views, you can kid your family and friends that you’ve gone viral, much to their chagrin. For instance, if you had 10 video views and it went to 1,000 views, claim viral status as the endorphins kick in over breakfast.

These days, according to the internet, “Posts with 100,000+ likes or views and 1,000+ comments are considered to be viral. However, the term ‘viral’ is subjective and can mean different things to different brands.”

I’ve had a few of those in 2022. What makes them viral in my mind is how my granddaughters react with laughter and smiles as we capture tiny slices of time that I hope they will remember forever.

As I scroll back in my camera role, we 100% laugh at the vigorous dancing, playing in the pasture, “Hadley’s dead animal smell,” the first big bass caught, camping trips, leaf jumping and beach time follies. Creatively, I have to give a huge shout-out to all the other Instagram creators and audio clips that are available at my fingertips who have mentored me in this activity when the mood strikes. Couldn’t have done it without you.

You can watch the Reel here!

What made rolling a 700-pound round bale of hay down a snowy hill to feed cows so play-worthy? What makes the algorithm direct people to light up my @thegrasswhisperer63 account?

It’s a head scratcher, but I have some theories: Folks are just drawn to poop emojis. A rolling hay bale is bound to create some sort of havoc, like running over cows, and they need to see the carnage. For the scientists, how far will a rolling bale travel. They like the idea of spreading fertility on steep ground. They love Limp Bizkit’s song “Rollin.’” They like and want to support grass farmers. They liked the hashtags and nutrient management planners. They had a few too many bourbons or were high on grass.

Whatever the reason, I gotta admit, I got caught up in the frenzy. Coming from a small rural town, it’s pretty crazy to gain 100,000 plays every day when you’re used to 20. And just like working with cows, a farmer could see the herd effect coming together. There were enough views (or green grass) to entice others, and they wanted it too. A mob mentality ensued. And just like that, I compared human behavior with animal behavior. Am I really that far off?

On a farm visit today, it was mentioned within a group of farmers that they were in the presence of a viral video star, to which they aptly replied, “Guess we know who’s buying the coffee.” At this juncture, I may be kicking myself for not hopping on the monetization train. In reality, I’m super skeptical. I have seen way too many people get addicted in pursuing viral stardom and making some “mystery money” while watching the important things in life pass on by with noses pressed to phones.

I’m coming to grips with this storytelling tool and all the interesting things I can create to highlight things in my life with friends and family. The platform has helped me learn editing, be more concise, stay disciplined with time and look for opportunities to provide a glimpse from the country.

I guess, once in a while, you inspire others to come along for life’s ride. It’s pretty awesome to be able to tell a short story to over 2 million potential customers of agriculture with virtually no marketing budget. If a 59-year-old farmer curmudgeon can make these strides, what’s holding you back from sharing your story?

And it sure beats the heck out of carrying a camcorder around all day.

by Troy Bishopp

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