Best Way to Host Your Web Videos

My clients often get so focused on creating their videos that they don’t always think about the end goal – how it’s going to get out into the world and make a difference.

So how do you make sure that your gorgeous video does what you want it to do?

Make Sure it has a Good Home
Though you can always put your video up on YouTube (more on that later), you will likely want to ultimately drive traffic back to your website. Make sure you’ve thought out ahead of time where on your site the video will “live,” not only which page, but where on the page and how the website may need to be altered to make room for the video. You’ll want it to have prominent real estate, so this step is crucial.

Make Sure You Have the Right Web Player for Your Organization
Once your video is complete, you have a few choices on how to let people see your video on-line. One option is to take the finished video file, and using a plug-in like DivX Plus, you can have a direct URL to the video. (Here’s an example from my SAME client.) This may be an option if you want no other distractions and aren’t interested in taking advantage of social media to gain viewers. My client in this example uses their video at workshops. (This could also be useful if you want to “email” your video to specific people. Embedding video into an email is not usually a viable option, as the files are too big to email, so sharing a link is best.) The biggest downfall to this option, however, is that you’re hosting the video yourself, which is something you typically do not want to do. (Check out this great article on the 10 Reasons Why You Should Hever Host Your Own Videos.)

Most small businesses and non-profits will want to use their videos to drive traffic to their website and/or engagement on social media, so they’ll want to utilize a third-party hosted web player that can assist with these goals.

When people think web players, they immediately think of YouTube. While there are many advantages to YouTube, there are many other companies that allow you to upload your videos and offer additional options, such as higher video quality and tools to measure SEO. Vimeo and Wistia are two of my favorites. Here’s how they compare to YouTube and what you should know.

Web Host YouTube Vimeo, Vimeo Plus, Vimeo Pro Wistia
Price Per Year Free! $0 - $199 $0-$3000
Privacy Limited Excellent Excellent
Video Quality Limited Excellent Excellent
SEO quality Excellent Average Excellent
Analytics Excellent Average Excellent
Features                Annotations/Captions Customizable Video Player Twitter Follow Lab
Negatives Poor video quality Limited storage (50gb) Expensive

YouTube - If you're not as concerned with the highest level of video quality and are on a budget, YouTube is a viable choice. Recently, YouTube has developed some top-notch analytic analysis for video management. (Click on an uploaded video when logged into your page, and click “Analytics” just below the video. You can see traffic sources, demographics, and even audience retention rates.) The annotations function allows you to embed links in your video that can direct traffic back to your website or your social media outlets. (However, the user can easily turn off these functions.)  You can also put your video into Categories and Tag them using the Info and Settings button.  The major drawback to YouTube is that the video quality suffers significantly as YouTube can only upload 1GB at a time. So if you have a high-quality, large video file, it won’t look as good on YouTube.

Vimeo - This is definitely the best low-cost, high-quality web hosting service. Almost all of its specifications match up with competitors, with the biggest exception being storage space. While you can pay extra to add space, it may not be worth it. Vimeo does have a free version, but with significantly less storage space. If you're not planning on uploading large videos on a regular basis, Vimeo is probably your best bet. (Here’s a recent article with more on Vimeo)

Wistia - Designed specifically for small businesses, Wistia is best for those with a multimedia budget. Wistia provides unlimited storage -  a huge plus for businesses that regularly post videos and want the highest level of quality. One of the biggest draws for Wistia is its "Twitter Follow Lab." If you want to get more followers for your business's Twitter page, Wistia allows you to place a clean, aesthetically pleasing button that immediately allows viewers to follow the account without being redirected. Another big draw is the detailed SEO (search-engine optimization), making it more likely for people to see your video when searching. Wistia also does a great job with customer support and how-to videos for customers. The cost-benefit to your business is the biggest determining factor for using Wistia.

Get People To Watch
No matter which web hosting service you use, I strongly recommend creating a YouTube account and uploading your videos there. It's free, easy, and in most cases, there's no harm in having extra eyeballs see your videos.

Once you’ve settled on your web player and embedded the videos onto your website, you’ll want to use links everywhere to engage traffic and get more viewers.  Be sure to check back in next month for part two, when we talk to an SEO expert on how to get even more viewers to see your videos.