Choosing the right video hosting: YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or Wistia
Finally you’ve finished your video. And it looks exactly like you pictured. Hooray!
Now you’ll need to choose video hosting. But which one? YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and Wistia are popular platforms that you may be considering.
Your choice depends on your goals. Let’s take a look at five essential parameters for choosing a platform: findability/SEO, community, viewing experience, analytics, and price plans.
Comparing 5 video hosting features
1) Findability and SEO
Suppose you upload your video, optimise it for search engines and sit back. What will happen on each platform?
YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. If you choose a popular topic and optimise your video it should get discovered on its own. People will also discover your video when they search on Google and look under Videos.
Many of your Facebook fans should see your video turn up in their Facebook news feed. Most people don’t actively search for content on Facebook, so don’t expect many impressions after a few days, and it definitely won’t show up in Google.
Vimeo is a platform for creatives and professionals. It’s a smaller video hosting platform than YouTube and fewer people perform video searches on the site itself. Vimeo videos do, however, turn up in search engines and can be optimised for searches.
Wistia’s community consists of video marketers and is presumably even smaller than Vimeo’s. Wistia videos, however, also turn up in search engines when you embed the video player on your site. Search engine optimisation is built in.
How much interaction with viewers can you expect on each platform?
The YouTube community can be very interactive but the content needs to be outstanding. You’ll also need to drive enough traffic to your video. Building a channel with multiple videos helps a lot.
People love to interact on Facebook. Especially in the first few days after uploading your video you can expect a good amount of likes, comments and possibly shares (assuming your video is a good fit for your audience.)
Vimeo has a smaller community mostly made up people who create and/or like more creative and artistic videos. Expect interaction, but only if your video meets their high standards.
Wistia does not have a community of users built-in.
3) Viewing experience
Let’s take a look at the circumstances in which your viewers watch individual videos.
YouTube is supported by ads, and watching a video on YouTube is like trying to have a conversation on Times Square on a Friday night. Advertisements and suggested videos are a constant distraction on this video hosting service.
Facebook is a little better, but there are still ads, and, arguably worse, friends’ baby pictures trying to steal your viewer’s attention.
The folks at Vimeo are keen on keeping their site more serene. Non-paid Vimeo members see banner ads, but videos aren’t interrupted or delayed by ads. Paid plans allow you to also customise the player.
This is where Wistia really shines. In short, you fully control the viewing experience. Options include customising the player (branding, player/play button colours, and playback), adding call to actions, and even ‘gate’ your video behind an e-mail opt-in box.
You’ve uploaded your video and people have seen it. How well do platforms show you how it performs?
For a free platform, YouTube has a decent analytics dashboard. You can see the behaviour of viewers for individual videos, which allows you to finetune its contents. You can also see the demographic distribution of your viewers and likes and comments per video.
Metrics include: minutes viewed, number of 10-second views, and average % of viewers that completed the video. Similar to YouTube, you can also see where in the video people drop off.
Not one of Vimeo’s strongest points. You get the basics: some demographics, video engagement, and views per site where you embed the video. These analytics are only available in paid accounts.
As you’d expect, Wistia has amazing video analytics. Every single video view generates a ‘heat map’ that shows the viewer’s behaviour. You can even track the viewing history of individuals to see which videos they watched and for how long.
5) Price plans
Our comparison wouldn’t be complete without the price plans for each platform.
YouTube - free
On YouTube, the hosting of your video is completely free.
Facebook - ‘free’
Uploading your video onto your Facebook page is free. But be prepared to spend money on advertising since the ‘organic’ (non-paid) reach on Facebook is minimal.
Vimeo - freemium
Vimeo is free up to 500 MB of uploaded material per week. Paid plans, for more bandwidth, analytics and player customisation, start at € 49,95/year.
Wistia - freemium
Wistia offers a free account, but only for up to 5 videos and the player is Wistia branded. The magic doesn’t happen until you sign up for a paid plan, starting at $ 25/month (or $ 300/year). (Hint: We can get you a better deal - just contact us :) )
I hope this guide has made your choice a bit easier. Here are our recommendations:
- When organic discovery is important for you, when you want decent analytics and when you don’t mind the distractions, choose YouTube.
- When you have a strong Facebook presence, are willing to spend money to ‘push’ your video, and do not mind the distractions, choose Facebook.
- When your video is of a creative nature, when you want a less noisy environment, and don’t depend as much on organic discovery, choose Vimeo.
- When you want conversions, extensive analytics and total control of the viewing experience, plus you have larger budget to spend, choose Wistia.