[UPDATED 9/15/14]

One of the most powerful ways a brand or business can market themselves online is by creating and promoting video assets. According to comScore data, 188.2 million people in the U.S. watched 52.4 billion online content videos in December 2013, and throughout that entire year, 93 percent of marketers used video for their online marketing efforts.

Video also helps to increase engagement and shareability of any piece of content, which is why it’s important for businesses to start incorporating it in their marketing mix. The only question you’ll have to ask yourself is: which video hosting site should you use?

For most brands, the answer comes down to a head-to-head battle of Vimeo vs. YouTube. Each has a distinct vibe and a unique set of pros and cons for businesses, and you’ll want to understand both before making a decision about  the winner for your brand.

The Pros of YouTube for Business

It’s the World’s Most Popular Video Sharing Platform

Let’s look at some of the statistics from the YouTube press page that convey just how much of a powerhouse the site is for video sharing.

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

There are even more impressive stats at the YouTube Statistics page, but the point is that YouTube is without a doubt the highest-trafficked web-based video publishing platform.

YouTube Is Owned By Google

Search giant Google acquired YouTube back in 2006. Here’s the video that was created by the video platform’s founders in response to the acquisition:

One of the biggest implications of this acquisition? Seer Interactive noticed that Google is actually removing some video snippets from its search engine results pages that aren’t from YouTube. Since Google is mainly displaying snippets from YouTube, businesses using other video hosts may get lost in the search results since the visible snippets are a much more enticing result to click on.

It’s Free

If you aren’t already on the world’s second largest search engine, there’s very little barrier to entry. It’s completely free to create a YouTube Channel for your brand. We’ve put together this guide to creating a YouTube account to help your marketing team get started so you can begin sharing your video content with fans.

Paid Advertising Solutions

Once you have your YouTube account set up and your videos uploaded, you can easily extend your reach through paid promotions. YouTube has a guide on getting started, but it boils down to three main steps:

  1. Upload your video to YouTube.
  2. Create an AdWords account.
  3. Launch your video ad.

With its massive audience, refined targeting features, and various ad options, YouTube is a fantastic platform for running your paid advertisements.

The Cons of YouTube for Business

Quality of YouTube Content

With over 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s safe to assume that not all of it is going to be the best quality. If you’re attempting to position yourself as a professional product or brand, having spammy or offensive content appearing next your videos could hurt you.

Competitive Advertising

Have you ever searched your brand name on the major search engines and found another company was advertising on your brand keyword? Well that same thing can happen if you put your company on YouTube. By taking advantage of some of YouTube’s robust targeting features, competitors can attempt to steal your video audience by placing their own ads on your videos.

Traffic Cannibalization

YouTube and the businesses that use the platform to reach their customers have two completely conflicting goals. Where a brand is more likely to want users to click through to their site, YouTube wants users to stay on the platform. That’s why YouTube will often show videos related to yours in order to get the audience to keep perusing. Sometimes YouTube will even put a competitor’s video in the related section.

Lack of Access

For some businesses, you want to reach your audience while they’re at work. Though many companies have relaxed their internet restrictions on YouTube, the site is sure to be banned in some offices. That could make it difficult to hit all of your target audience if you’re solely using this platform.

Tips for YouTube for Business

TIP 1: Spend time personalizing your channel. YouTube calls it “cover art” for a reason: make it unique and interesting. Striking visuals will help create a memorable experience for your viewers.

TIP 2: Properly optimize all of your videos for tags, keywords, and descriptions to better ensure you show up in the search engines for proper queries.

TIP 3: Transcribe your content. Not only will this help the search engines recognize what your content is about, it could also help hearing-impaired viewers.

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The Pros of Vimeo for Business

No Video Advertisements

You didn’t read that headline wrong; Vimeo doesn’t run advertisements on any of the videos that you upload. This is probably the biggest advantage of hosting your videos on Vimeo instead of YouTube. There is a much better chance of a user watching your entire video if they don’t have to watch ads or deal with banners popping up during the process.

Cost Effective Business Account

Unfortunately, running a large and successful website isn’t free. Vimeo has been kind enough to keep their website free of advertisements, which means they have to collect revenue in another way: paid subscriptions. Never fear, however, there is a Vimeo business plan for only $17/month, which includes:

  • Up to 20 gigs of video storage each week
  • Unlimited HD plays
  • No bandwith caps or time limits on videos
  • No advertisements on your videos
  • Advanced statistics

Quality of Content

Since Vimeo isn’t the most well known of the video sharing sites, it’s less likely to get spammed with a ton of poorly made content. Here is an example of a video that shows up on the homepage of a freshly created account on Vimeo:

ARCUS CLOUD KANSAS CITY from Stephen Locke on Vimeo.

It’s an incredibly beautiful piece of content, whereas the videos at the top of a new YouTube feed are typically what’s trending, which at times can be very different than this example. This isn’t to say that all of the content on YouTube is of lower quality, or that all of the content of Vimeo is this great, but it does seem like Vimeo favors this type of higher quality video.

The Community

This idea is related to the notion that Vimeo has more quality content. Since the site is much more niche than YouTube, there is a good chance that only serious video creators and watchers are frequenting the site on a regular basis. People viewing and commenting on your videos are a lot more likely to give you constructive feedback.

The Cons of Vimeo for Business

Less Traffic than YouTube

Although Vimeo has been increasing their traffic over the years, the most recent reports we could find still only put them at just over 100 million users. This is a lot of eyeballs on a site, but not nearly as many as YouTube has.

Google Search Results

It has been speculated, though not yet confirmed by Google, that the search engine will start to remove videos from their results pages that aren’t hosted with YouTube. This can be a scary prospect for businesses that see Google results as their highest driver of online traffic.

Limited Amount of Uploads

None of the Vimeo plans give users the ability to upload an unlimited amount of videos, which is something that YouTube offers their free users. Though this helps keep the site from being inundated with content, it does put a limit on the users who want to upload a lot of videos.

Tips for Vimeo for Business

TIP 1: Comment on other users’ videos. This site is more close knit than YouTube, so building a community of thought leaders should be one of your highest priorities. This also means you should make sure to respond to those who comment one your videos.

TIP 2: Make sure to disseminate your video across multiple channels. Vimeo has a smaller natural audience and less visibility as a video platform, so it’s important to do more cross-promotion on your social profiles, your website, and any other online platforms you use.

Which Platform To Choose?

When choosing a video hosting platform, it is best to consider the goals of your business and your budget. Ultimately, it is not about which is the better platform; it is about what’s best for you. Just know that whichever one you do choose, your business will benefit from incorporating videos into its online marketing strategy.