August 2005

SSI website attracts unusual visitors with short videos

When you spend your whole life doing one thing, you often forget how interesting it might be to other people. This is what happened to SSI, a 25-year-old industrial shredding company in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Last year the industrial shredder company updated its website. Aside from the general redesign, the company added a new feature: movies. When visiting their site (ssiworld.com), you can select from scores of short films of everything from boats to refrigerators being chewed up by shredders the size of an Abrams tank.

For the first few months, the attraction worked well. Site visitation nearly quadrupled as people began to forward the link to friends and colleagues. This followed the mathematical growth pattern of a typical website in which the more people link to it…well, the more people link to it. The new site was doing its job.

But then something unexpected happened. The shredding movies attracted the attention of bloggers, and through them a popular cable TV show called Screensavers. On March 8th Screensavers featured a visit to the SSI site and showed some of the movies of couches, washing machines, and computers being chewed to pieces. The show’s host pronounced the site “cool.” His female co-host asked, “What is it with guys and destruction?”

In the next few days following the airing of the show, SSI began to get hundreds of thousands of hits to its site. By the end of March it had logged up to a half-a-million visits! The trend has continued unabated as more and more bloggers have added the link to their own sites, exponentially increasing its visibility to search engines across the web.

A cynical salesman might scoff that these half-million people are not qualified leads. Admittedly most of them are likely teenage boys who merely think it’s cool to watch things being destroyed. However, one huge benefit to having a half-a-million freeloaders drop in for the show is that a generic search query for ‘shredder’ brings up SSI first, to both teenaged boys and recycling tycoons.

If there is a lesson in this it’s that you should never underestimate what can be interesting to so many people. It was certainly not the intention of SSI to increase its market visibility on the backs of adolescent males. But in the age of the Internet, it was its intention to share the common shredding demonstrations that SSI conducts on a daily basis. And by sharing the entertaining spectacle of shredding with the world, SSI also happened to attract the attention of qualified leads. And, of course, watching things being eaten by a shredder is just plain fun.


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