UpdateThis article references Vimsy, an online platform that we built for managing online video content. It was released to the public in September 2016 and closed in April 2020.
If you’re curious, you can learn more here.
Three years ago I wrote a pair of blog posts about where to host your videos and where to share them online. (They’re so out of date now that I wouldn’t even attempt to try reading them!) The sheer size of this topic is clear from the fact that I tried to split it into two different blogs posts – I didn’t dare to make a video for it as I knew the video wouldn’t be anywhere near as succinct as our others. But, increasingly, this is a subject we’re being asked about by our clients and we decided to reassess whether we could try and condense it down into something watchable.
To help me out, I invited a very special guest from the world of video marketing to our studio where I interviewed them about all things video marketing. I won’t reveal the surprise but I’m fairly confident that you all know who this person is. To say they’re influential on me as a filmmaker and video marketer is an understatement. In our short interview we dive into video marketing and cover pretty much everything you need to know about putting your videos online. You can watch it above. Enjoy!
If you’re not able to watch the video above, like if you’re somewhere where you can’t play sound, or you’d simply prefer to read about this topic instead, here are some thoughts in text format. Some of these answers elaborate a little further on what was discussed in the interview, so you might find it interesting to read even if you’ve watched the video.
I have a promotional video – should I put it on YouTube?
I get asked this question a lot and generally speaking I would say “yes”. YouTube is a household name, which makes it a popular destination for video content. It’s also the place people go to when trying to find videos, so if you’ve made a video that resonates with someone then there’s a good chance that they’ll go to YouTube to find it again – even if they didn’t see it on YouTube originally. That alone makes it worth considering.
YouTube’s biggest appeals are that it’s free to use, it works with almost every device that has a screen and an internet connection (so it’s universally supported), and it allows you to embed your videos in other locations, like your company website or blog. In principle YouTube is ideal, but it’s not without limitations.
What are those limitations?
The biggest issue with YouTube is that the viewing experience is catered towards keeping viewers on YouTube in general, not about keeping viewers engaged with your content – even if that’s what they came to YouTube for.
When you watch a video on the YouTube website, you’ll notice that the video is displayed next to a long list of “related” videos, which could be anything that YouTube thinks your viewer might want to watch – these videos could be from competitors or they could be completely unrelated to the topic (e.g. Cat videos). If you’re trying to get a message across the last thing you want is your viewer being led down a path you have no control over, and you really don’t want your viewers being distracted by something else that looks more enticing if they’re supposed to be concentrating on your video.
Additionally, there are some other potential issues. For example, YouTube may be blocked in some workplaces as it can be classed as social media by strict corporate or education firewalls. Additionally, YouTube is owned by Google, which means that you’re feeding their gigantic advertising machine with content. When you embed a YouTube video on your website you’re giving Google more ways to track your customers and prospects – and they can use this information to target them with adverts, which might mean that they’ll start receiving adverts for your competitors because your website has certain keywords on it. (That’s not to say it’s a direct cause and effect, but it’s a consideration!)
What do you recommend instead?
I would place bets on saying that most corporate promotional content is going to be embedded on a company website, and while YouTube can do this (with the limitations I mentioned above), I personally prefer to use Wistia, which is a paid-for video hosting service. (Although a limited free option is available.)
In addition to providing very high quality video streaming, Wistia’s video player is lightweight and attractive, with no ads or links back to their service. You can also customise the video player with your own colours and branding, and where it gets more useful is that Wistia can integrate with third party services such as Mailchimp and certain CRM software so that you can collect details from leads directly within the video player interface via a form. You can embed your videos directly on your website, and there are several features that let you share your videos within emails and other places online. In addition to this, Wistia also provides detailed analytics about how your videos have been watched, which is useful for knowing if your videos are working.
Wistia isn’t the cheapest option out there so if it’s outside of your price range then I would suggest Vimeo as cheap but professional video hosting. Like Wistia, Vimeo has a limited free option, but as soon as you upgrade your Vimeo account you can customise the player and unlock a number of similar features. I personally prefer Wistia’s interface, player and stats to Vimeo’s (personal preference), but they’re largely comparable. I don’t find Vimeo’s pricing as flexible (they limit the amount you can upload per week, even if you pay) and I’m not entirely sure about Vimeo’s longterm direction as they’ve transitioned several times over the past few years from being a YouTube competitor, to becoming a Netflix competitor, to – now – a video creator toolkit service. To their credit, the core video hosting service has always been consistently good, but I find it hard to put a lot of faith in a company that seems to keep pivoting.
What about training and event videos?
When you start looking beyond promotional content, where the objective is to get lots of people to see your content, there are a few more options. With training and event videos it really depends on who the audience is. For example, there’s a big difference between training videos that are designed to educate your customers on how to use your product versus internal training videos that are designed to teach your staff how to use the equipment your company supplies them with.
For private event and training videos my go-to is Vimsy — not just because I helped to make it, but because it’s a platform that has been designed specifically for this type of content.
With Vimsy you can create your own video channel, which is effectively a website specifically for video content. You can add videos to your channel from YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia or upload video files directly to Vimsy. You can then organise those videos into collections and sub-collections. This helps viewers find what they’re looking for. For example, one of our customers that manufactures industrial cleaning machines has a collection for each product category (vacuums, scrubber dryers, rotaries, etc.) and a sub-collection within those for each relevant machine that they make.
You can also control how and who you share the videos with; sharing the videos publicly, sharing them with a closed user group, or selling your videos via a one-off payment or on a recurring subscription. You can also see who’s been watching your videos, how much of those videos they’ve watched and when they watched them. This is ideal for internal training of staff. One of our customers is a haulage firm who uses this feature for seeing if their lorry drivers have completed their necessary video inductions before going out on the road. If one of their drivers hasn’t watched the correct videos, or if they’ve not watched them recently, the firm’s managers can see this and make sure the videos are watched before the driver heads out on the road again.
What about public-facing event and training videos?
As for public-facing training and event videos, I would consider hosting the videos on YouTube on the basis that your videos will be in a place where people will expect to find them – if they happen to search for them on YouTube.
But I still think Vimsy is a great option for these videos as well; Vimsy removes the clutter that YouTube puts around your videos, it can be branded for your organisation, you can organise your videos in a way that makes sense to your audience, and your viewers don’t have to search through the rest of the world’s uploads just to find your content. Because Vimsy only shows your videos, when somebody comes to watch a sequence of videos (such as a training a course or an event stream) there’s no chance that they’ll be taken down a path that leads them away from your content.
Additionally, what makes Vimsy even more appealing is that you can add your YouTube-hosted videos to your Vimsy channel via the video’s YouTube URL, giving you free hosting and increasing your engagement stats on YouTube, which might improve your chances of the YouTube algorithm surfacing your videos for more people using the YouTube website. While it’s unlikely that using YouTube in and of itself will result in your content going viral (sorry to break that to you), every little helps. When you add a YouTube video to your VImsy channel you can still use Vimsy’s insights feature to see who’s been watching your videos, which means you can log those views against the viewer for CPD purposes, for compliance, or to follow up with them from a sales perspective.
How about sharing my videos on social media?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram all love video content because it keeps users active on their platforms for longer, but simply sharing a link to your video on social media is not enough. There are some bigger considerations that need to be made to get the most out of using these social networks for commercial benefit.
Take Facebook as an example. Although you can easily share a link to YouTube, Vimsy, or another platform where you’ve hosted your video, your video will see better performance if you upload the video file directly to Facebook’s platform so that it can take advantage of Facebook’s native video playback features, such as autoplay. This will increase the likelihood of people watching your content.
If you share a link to a video that’s hosted elsewhere on the web, Facebook will display it like any other link that’s been shared to the platform such as news articles or blog posts, which isn’t ideal. I’ve also heard that native video is more likely to be prioritised in the News Feed – although, much like Google Search and the mythical SEO practises that have risen around it, these algorithms are largely a black box for outsiders like you or I.
In any case, uploading your videos natively to each social network seems to be the trend going forward, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. In a digital world it is not cash that is king, but content – and each social media platform wants as much as it can get.
Beyond the technical aspects of uploading your videos to these platforms, there’s another crucial factor which mustn’t be overlooked, which is how your video is produced for social media at a creative level. Each platform has its own requirements and quirks, and content that doesn’t consider these is going to fail by default.
Facebook is a visual-first platform. Videos autoplay on mute in the News Feed, and many viewers are browsing Facebook on their phones in public or shared spaces where they can’t play sound. Therefore your videos should be designed to convey the message entirely on-screen, or should at least be subtitled.
LinkedIn and Twitter are largely the same in this respect, although Twitter has a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds, which means your promotional videos might do well there, but more meaty content (like the video in this post) wouldn’t be suitable for Twitter at all. In fact, I would keep social media videos as short as possible – people aren’t sitting down specifically to watch videos on these platforms, they’re clicking on things impulsively because they have a minute to spare while waiting for a bus to arrive, the kettle to boil, or while they’re on the toilet. (Gross, but true!)
However, once you start moving on to mobile-first platforms like Instagram you’re going to need to look at reformatting and restructuring your videos entirely. Instagram TV is portrait-only, which is not how most professional video content is filmed, and catering for this – and all social media platforms for that matter – requires a significant amount of thought during the pre-production stage, not when the video is finished.
In your ideal scenario, what would your video sharing strategy be?
Given free reign, a strategy that I think would work well for most SME businesses is:
- Upload all public-facing content to YouTube for the sake of putting it in the most likely place people will search for it if they need to find it again later. (And for making sure your staff can find it too!) Make sure you fill out the title and description fields with your company name, the video title and some relevant keywords to make sure it shows up in the most common searches your viewers might be making.
- Use Wistia (or Vimeo) as the video hosting platform for your website, such as for the main promotional video on your website’s home page and use the turnstile feature to control your customer journey – be that with a sign up form or a link to another webpage.
- Use Vimsy for all training and event content as a separate portal that you have complete control over. With Vimsy Extra or Vimsy Premium you use your Vimsy channel with your own domain, so it can exist as video.example.com or training.example.com which makes it feel far more integrated for your viewers. (You don’t necessarily need to use Vimsy’s built-in video hosting either. If you need to use your videos on another platform that Vimsy doesn’t integrate with, such as an intranet or an internal LMS, you can host your videos on Wistia or Vimeo and use them across a variety of platforms in addition to Vimsy.)
- Upload relevant videos natively to social media with the videos correctly formatted and creatively optimised for the way that people will view the content the platform you’re uploading to. (E.g. portrait videos for IGTV.)
At the end of the day there isn’t a hard and fast video strategy that I think all businesses should stick to, as the right approach will depend on the objectives of the business or specific campaign, but hopefully this helps you start moving in the right direction. If you need bespoke help and advice, please get in touch – myself and the team love helping businesses use video.
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