Web Slinging

Using the internet as a tool

Published in the June 2009 Issue Published online: Jun 05, 2009 Frank Muir, IPC President

YouTube potato videoOver the last few years, the Idaho Potato Commission has made a concerted effort to increase its presence on the web, especially in the area of social networking. It's been quite an interesting initiative, with a decent learning curve I must add, but we are just beginning to reap the benefits of our efforts.

Two years ago we filmed Dawn Wells-a.k.a. Mary-Ann from the television program, Gilligan's Island-peeling a potato using primarily boiling and freezing water, and without a potato peeler! The offbeat and funny video was released over YouTube to launch a video contest called iTuber. After the contest ended, we kept the video posted on YouTube and on the IPC website and continued to promote it through our public relations efforts.

Over the last six months, we have been delighted to watch the viewership of the video soar. It has "topped the charts" with nearly 4 million views-making it, by far, the IPC's most popular video. We've learned that the viewers are primarily consumers and foodservice personnel interested in unique cooking techniques and entertaining videos, and, of course, Gilligan's Island fans. To view the video, visit Youtube.com and search for "Dawn Wells Potato Peeling Video."

Riding the wave of the popularity of the Dawn Wells video, the IPC recently released Farmer Poetry, a short and compelling video that recognizes the Idaho potato grower and love and labor involved in growing America's favorite vegetable. The film is a compilation of real photographs of real Idaho potato growers and recognizes and pays tribute to those who are directly responsible for putting Idaho potatoes on the plates of millions of people around the globe.

In early March, the video was shared initially via email with the IPC Commissioners and a small group of industry friends. In just a two-month period, the video has been viewed by more than 2,700 people primarily through word-of-mouth. The video can be viewed on the IPC website www.idahopotato.com or on YouTube.

Another way the IPC is leveraging social media is with its newly developed widget (an application that feeds specific information from the internet direct to a computer desktop). The IPC's widget, "Dishin' Nutrition with Denise Austin," is a collection of recipes and healthy eating and physical activity tips. When the widget is downloaded from the IPC website (there are easy-to-follow-instructions), a small box appears on the computer desktop and will appear every time the computer is turned on. Each day, Monday through Friday, one new tip is featured-a little reminder from the IPC on how to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle. To download the widget visit www.idahopotato.com and click on Nutrition and Education.

The internet has provided the IPC with countless ways, both traditional and quite unique, to communicate directly to the press and consumers.

We are developing our marketing plans for the next fiscal year and will introduce even more exciting web-based initiatives that are certain to drive traffic to the IPC website where consumers can further learn what differentiates Idaho potatoes from all the others.

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