Why and how a top farm shop made Cow to Cup video

A ‘Cow to Cup’ video clip is the latest digital initiative from White House Farm Farmshop & Butchery in Norfolk.

We find out why they made it and get their social media tips.

See also: Novel farmshop provide outlet for local produce

Why did you decide to make a video?

I had a lightbulb moment when we were packing boxes at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

I wondered if there was a way to properly convey to our customers what local really means.

We collaborate with hundreds of – often family-run – suppliers and growers, and it’s that huge collective effort that keeps our shelves stocked.

After all the gloom and uncertainty of the past year, I wanted to make people smile and celebrate all things local.

Charlotte and Ollie Gurney

Charlotte and Ollie Gurney © Charlotte Gurney

White House Farm

  • Located at Sprowston near Norwich.
  • Owned and run by husband and wife Charlotte and Oliver Gurney.
  • The couple converted a pick-your-own business and some ‘ancient and crumbling’ buildings on the family farm into a café, butchery and farm shop.
  • Also become a community hub by converting buildings to let out to other businesses such as a children’s nursery, a beautician and a dance studio.

How did you turn the idea into a reality?

Once I had the concept, I immediately knew the man for the job, Luke at Meantime Media.

He’d recently left London and set up his own filming business. Getting in his diary was another thing altogether.

With members of his team on furlough, plus other more pressing work, it was a challenge getting the whole idea off the ground. But once we had a storyboard I knew it was going to be a peach!

What messages were you trying to convey?

We are incredibly lucky to have a local dairy that we work with – a herd of 80 Brown Swiss owned by the Norton family.

Going the extra mile and using their milk obviously has a price implication for us, but we want to practise what we preach as a farm shop and serve our customers with the freshest, tastiest milk around.

I often wonder why there is so much emphasis on the bean of coffee used by a barista or its Colombian origin, when 80% of the drink is the milk.

Given our location on the edge of Norwich, I wanted the “Cow to cup” video to fuse farming with the familiar latte or flat white that is so integral to the bustle of city life.

What are the key ingredients that make a clip like this get watched / shared?

The format is important. It must be easy for users to press play and get the film rolling.

We put ours into a YouTube post so it was simple to watch and share.

Getting eyeballs on it takes a captivating and enticing thumbnail image accompanied by a personal or emotive text.

A short and punchy video title and good hashtag usage will help.

The time of day you release content like this can also be important – mid-morning is nice as people start to daydream at their desk or get peckish!

There is also scope to “republish” content like this several times, giving it a new twist.

For example, I recently photographed customers watching the video as they enjoyed their coffee in the café.

I then shared these snaps on social media with an “In case you missed this” caption.

How do you use social media more generally to support your diversification?

Social media is without doubt the backbone of our farm diversification project.

The content we share constantly evolves and hopefully is engaging and unique in that it is our story.

We basically depict life here, putting the farmer at the forefront of the brand.

That could range from a new shop opening to the farmer taking his geese for a swim on a Sunday morning (yes, he actually does swim with them!).

We are so lucky that there is an endless amount of content available, even signs of the first pumpkin in June gets people talking.

If we were selling double glazing, it wouldn’t be quite so easy.

I am always thinking of the next amusing, informative post and, although it has taken time, we have built quite a following – and ultimately, a brand.

Give us a few dos and don’ts for effectively using social media

First, the content has to be top-notch (that means no second-rate photos).

Bear in mind anyone under the age of 30 is allergic to being sold to – so although you have a commercial agenda, simply saying “buy this” isn’t the right approach.

Community should also be a watchword, because having people behind what you’re creating will ultimately win the sales/brand loyalty.

One of my loveliest surprises of 2020 was posting a collage of all the members of the White House Farm team who were involved in taking our offering online at the height of the pandemic.

They were mainly family members that deserved a shout out, but the reaction on social media was phenomenal.

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