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Where Should You Host Your Video Content?

May 25, 2015

where-should-your-video-live

With over 1B video clips being viewed on Facebook each day, video popularity shows no signs of slowing. So it should come as no surprise that the use of video in content marketing continues to rise, helped along by lowered barriers to entry when it comes to video production.

However, a question that marketers commonly ask is, “Where should my video content live? — On my website, or on a third-party video platform?” …of which there are a myriad of choices. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer as choice will often depend upon a range of different factors.

So let’s take a look at each option in turn, as well as take a deeper dive into five of the major social video networks out there.

Hosting Videos on your Website

There are a number of reasons why you choose to host video content on your own website. These include:

  • When you are looking to drive traffic to content on your website
  • When you want total control over the video viewing experience
  • When you are targeting people in the “buy” phase of the marketing funnel
  • When you are helping your existing website visitors, customers, or user base troubleshoot specific issues
  • When you want to build backlinks to your domain through video embeds

Hosting Videos on Social Video Platforms

Despite viewer distractions that are often inherent on a third-party platform, there are many good reasons for utilizing these social platforms to host your video content. Some of these include:

  • When you want to get your video in front of as many eyeballs as possible
  • When you want to connect your brand, outside the confines of a corporate website
  • When you have developed educational content that appeals to a broad audience
  • When you want to target a particular demographic in the networks where they spend time
  • When you want your video to be found through major search engines

If you decide that hosting your video on a social video platform is the way to go, the question then turns to which network to choose? Here’s a comparison of 5 major social video networks.

Social Video Network Cheat Sheet

Social Video Network Cheat Sheet [Click to Enlarge]

VineVine was founded in June 2012 and then promptly scooped up by Twitter four months later. It officially launched as a mobile app in 2013 and has since clocked up 40M registered users. Vine users skew female and is most popular amongst the younger 18-20 year old age group.

Users record short 6-second video clips with their mobile device camera. Stop motion video is a popular technique used on Vine due to the short filming length.

  • Use cases: Simple visual demonstrations
  • Examples of companies doing Vine well: Lowes and Lego

Snapchat: With 100M active monthly users, Snapchat is most popular among females and younger age groups (under 25s).

Users snap a photo or video, mark it up with text or drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. After a certain user-defined time-limit (between 1-10 seconds), the snap will disappear. Snapchat Stories was added in 2013 leading to 1B stories being viewed per day. It provides a collection of snaps anyone can view, allowing brands to go beyond the original 1:1 limitations. Stories can be viewed an unlimited number of times, for a 24 hour period.

Despite its growing popularity, Social Media Marketing Report (2015) found that the majority of marketers (83%) have no plans to use Snapchat in 2015. Just recently, Evan Spiegal, CEO of Snapchat, also spoke negatively about brands using Snapchat Stories, outside of traditional ad units.

  • Use cases: Snapchat celebrity endorsements, coupons, discounts and incentives
  • Examples of companies doing Snapchat well: Taco Bell and Grubhub

Instagram: Originally a photo sharing platform, Instagram expanded its service to video in 2013. It has 300M active monthly users and is more gender neutral compared to other social video networks. It is most popular among the 18-29 age group.

Instagram users can upload 3-15 second videos, with time-lapse being a popular technique used. Use of hashtags are also common for tagging and findability within Instagram.

  • Use cases: Visual demonstrations and education
  • Examples of companies doing Instagram well: GoPro and General Electric

FacebookWith 1.4B active monthly users, Facebook continues to be the most popular social networking site out there. Facebook users skews female and while most popular among the 25-34 age group, usage continues to increase in the 65 and older age category (with 56% of Internet users in the 65 and older category using Facebook). Facebook videos automatically play without audio on a user’s News Feed.

There has been much debate recently over which platform is better for video – Facebook or YouTube. The choice really depends upon your objectives. Recent research by Visible Measures found that Facebook provides much higher acceleration of views compared to YouTube due to the network’s massive reach, but these views diminish over time. On the other hand, YouTube was found to be the better choice for continued viewership over the long haul, likely helped along through stronger search findability.

  • Use cases: Spans the marketing funnel, but is particularly good for product launches and other time-specific announcements and events
  • Examples of companies doing Facebook well: Budweiser and Always

YouTube: With 1B+ active monthly users, YouTube impressively reaches 81% of all US internet users, including more 18-34 year olds than any cable TV network. Demographically, YouTube skews towards higher male usage, and like Facebook is most popular among the 25-34 age group.

Very recently, video thumbnail results for self-hosted videos made an exit from the Google SERP. YouTube videos are now the only video thumbnails that seem to be showing up. YouTube is definitely the go-to platform for video findability, and still remains the second most popular search engine after Google. “How to” searches on YouTube increased by 70% in 2015, with over 100 million hours watched. “Near me” searches have also doubled this year.

For search marketers, it is often easier to rank for educational searches in Google, using a YouTube video compared to a standard HTML page. Video optimizations are relatively straightforward to apply and can be further supplemented with paid promotions to help drive traffic and social engagement.

  • Use cases: Spans the entire marketing funnel from how-to videos to product tear downs and ask the experts.
  • Examples of companies doing YouTube well: There are many examples of companies doing it right on YouTube. Among the best known are Blendtek and Old Spice.

With 91% of buyers preferring visual content during the buying process (Demand Gen Report, 2015), it is clear that video is here to stay. Choice about where to host your video is an important one. The decision requires upfront clarity around:

  • What are your objectives?
  • What part of the funnel are you targeting?
  • What are your website capabilities?
  • What audience are you trying to reach and why?
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