YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Oh My! How Should I Host My Brand Video?

Most brands obsess over the creative qualities of their video. Yet few spend enough time and attention to another key element—how and where they’re going to host the work. This isn’t a peripheral concern. An ideal video host could help track ROI, generate leads, and bring in traffic. This helps pay the bills, and sustains the budget necessary to continue video marketing.

There’s more out there than YouTube. While YouTube is a great, well-known platform, there are tons of hosting services—and each one can contribute to your video strategy in different ways. There are also tried-and-true methods of presentation that work for brands. So what are some crucial factors to consider before getting started with video strategy?

Understand the ROI

For B2B companies, it’s important to factor video engagement into the lead scores for prospects. Unfortunately, as highlighted by the Content Marketing Institute, many marketing automation platforms (MAPs) don’t come with interaction with video as an out-of-the-box feature. (Vidyard is a platform that helps with this.) That means most platforms don’t track whether a viewer is spending time playing the video, how many times they pause (possibly to take notes), which parts they skip, and so on. Certain platforms can also help you drive engagements by offering an opt-in form at the end of the video or gating content. It can also display pop-out CTAs to ask questions and get feedback or interaction from viewers.

Setting up an infrastructure to track these metrics is crucial, especially for B2B brands. Consider the metric of video views, and the ratio of video views to pageviews (if it’s below 10 percent, it could mean there’s room for optimization, as most people who land on your page aren’t watching your video). Similarly, understanding attention span is important: if fewer than half of viewers are getting through the video, it could be a sign that viewers are losing interest in whatever story you’re telling pretty quickly.

These analytics are part of the reason why you should seriously consider working with a video host service like VidyardWistia, or Brightcove that’s built to help marketers tackle these challenges.

Finding a video host

It can be tempting to host your own video content. You’d have greater control over presentation and you’d be able to customize your lead generation efforts and call-to-actions. For example, you’d have unrestricted access to data and analytics. You wouldn’t be restricted by the abilities of an existing video host. However, that means creating all your own solutions (e.g., analytics dashboards, tracking mechanisms, video containers). Self-hosting also comes with problems such as server bandwidth, file size limits, creating the analytics solution, and a slew of other technical issues. (They also don’t have the network effect that third-party platforms like Vine and Instagram Video provide.)

If you really must make content exclusive to your site, choose to embed it via a third party service. Moz advises that in the interest of search engine optimization and keeping your content exclusive on your site, you shouldn’t enable other people to embed it on theirs. Google will only find and rank your page for the video, keeping another page from leap-frogging you.

“Most popular paid hosting solutions allow you to define where your content can be embedded,” explains Moz. “You will also need to ensure that your video player will not display an ‘embed’ button as an overlay or box beneath the video.”

On the flip side, if you’re willing to sacrifice SEO and direct conversions in favor of shareability and earned media, you should make embedding available to everyone and make it visible to the public on whichever platform you’re hosting it on.

The decision to prioritize either direct marketing or brand awareness will ultimately guide your decision to select a video host provider. Although YouTube or Vimeo may seem like great default choices, they’re just the most obvious ones. Unfortunately, neither of these services necessarily have the features needed to integrate with your other communications channels or track ROI. For example, services like Vidyard can show you how many leads you’re generating and whether people are responding to your video through interactive questions. Emma integrates video marketing into emails, which will show you how engaged leads are. With the variety of specialized services for B2B and B2C businesses, you’ll have to do some work to pick the one that fits best with your company’s needs. The customers and prospects you retain will make it worthwhile.

The professional option

Longform video content can be an instrumental tool in creating a lasting impression on viewers, and platforms such as Vimeo are perfect for these videos. Their PRO service offers completely different features than their standard free membership—PRO users get priority uploading and conversion, unlimited bandwidth, and advanced analytics on videos. Vimeo’s community is also a deeply engaged one, where members often pay for their accounts to disable in-video advertising. Members are often creators themselves, and as Sprout Social highlights, they’re a much more engaged audience than the ones on mainstream video hosting sites.

Vimeo’s brand itself also has a certain prestige associated with it, as it is affiliated with international film festivals such as TIFF. Hosting content on Vimeo means that your brand’s video content will sit beside videos from some of the world’s most interesting videographers and independent filmmakers.

Yet in today’s attention economy, not many people have the time to watch long videos everyday. To reinforce your video efforts, you can share quick videos through Vine and Instagram as quick touch points for customers and consumers.

The short-form battle: Vine vs. Instagram

As this infographic by The 7th Chamber highlights, five tweets every second contain a Vine link. That same infographic shows that a branded Vine is four times more likely to be seen than a branded video.

Yet Vine’s momentum may have taken a dive since the advent of Instagram Video. According to the Hootsuite blog, “On June 26, six days after Video on Instagram was launched, less than 900,000 Vine links were shared on Twitter, compared to almost 3 million shared on June 15.” Mashable discovered that twice as many top 100 brands used Video on Instagram compared to Vine.

Regardless of which platform you choose, these quick, bite-sized videos are here to stay. Many brands have already begun building their presence on these platforms. They are great vehicles for brands to provide value by entertaining followers. Tide is active on Vine, and entertains viewers through pop culture references (e.g., Tide’s Vine on Discovery’s Shark Week). Brands such as Volkswagen also tap into pop culture events to create content that entertains viewers. Lowe’s launched an entertaining series instructing viewers on how to fix common problems around the house called “Fix in Six.” The possibilities are endless.

Closing thoughts

While it can be tempting to dive headfirst into the entertaining world of video, platform selection and setting measurable goals is crucial to your video strategy. You always want to be creating content with a purpose, and that doesn’t change when your content is in video form.

Image by Fer Gregory

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