When most people post a video, they post it on YouTube. It's free, it's easy, it's one of the world's largest search engines — it's a no-brainer. It's like going to grocery store to get your milk. It's always there, and it's always at a good price. But what if your favorite convenience store has a special sale price? What if you can get a great discount at the drug store by using your rewards points? And what if you want a brand of organic milk that the grocery store doesn't carry? In other words, there are times when it makes more sense to buy your milk somewhere else. And there are definitely times it makes more sense to post your video on other video hosting sites.
Now, before you start to doubt my credibility, let's be clear: it's always smart to post a copy of your video on YouTube. You want access to all those eyeballs, but in some cases, it should only be a copy. There's often a better place to post the primary version of your video, Depending on your goals, it may be best to post your video on Wistia, Vimeo, Facebook or another social network.
So, what's wrong with YouTube?
Nothing, if your goal is to get found as many times as possible on YouTube. But if you're planning to embed the video on your website to make it look like it belongs there, if you're trying to drive traffic to your website to capture leads, if you're trying to "go viral" in social media, or if you simply want to avoid those irritating pre-roll ads, there are better platforms to match your marketing strategy.
In fact, there are 5 times you shouldn't rely on YouTube alone.
1. If you're embedding the video on your own website.
Embedding YouTube video is easy. Copy and paste the embed code into just about any site and it will look great. Or will it? Did you ever notice that embedded YouTube videos don't play in full HD? Google (YouTube's owner) takes a bit of a shortcut to make sure its embedded frames are responsive across all platforms, so it forces the embedded videos to play in lower resolution.
There are a number of "other" video hosting sites that handle embedded video better:
Some of these video players cost money (particularly for professional use), and all of them have individual strengths and weaknesses — at StoryTeller, we prefer Wistia because it integrates so well with HubSpot and our Inbound Marketing techniques — but they all play embedded video in full HD. Frankly, with 2K and 4K video becoming more prevalent, this could become an even bigger differentiator over time.
2. If you want to "go viral" in social media.
I cringe whenever anybody says they want their video to "go viral." It's such a trite saying, and usually an unrealistic goal. But if you truly want to perform well on a certain social network, you need to host the video "on" that network. Facebook lures eyeballs by auto-playing its Facebook-hosted videos, and it also shows them more often in users' newsfeeds than a YouTube link. Twitter and Instagram have similar autoplay features — and it's only going to get worse (or more controlled) as other networks try to harness the power of video.
3. If you hate pre-roll ads.
YouTube is free, but your access comes at a cost. The pre-roll ads are irritating and auto-playing to other videos at the end of your video takes your audience away from your content. Not to mention the fact that if you're worried about getting people to watch your video (and who isn't?), it's pretty scary to throw up an extra video as a roadblock — especially one from some random source.
There are ways to work around the system, but if the goal is to keep your audience on your website, you don't want them lured away to the rest of YouTube's website.
4. If you want better analytics than simple view counts.
YouTube's view numbers are great. You instantly know how "popular" your are. But how much of your video are people watching? Are they getting to the end, where you make your main point? Are there lulls in your video that are chasing away viewers? If you had effective analytics on who is watching and sophisticated heat maps to show when they aren't, you'd learn a lot, wouldn't you? Wistia, Viddler, Sprout, and Vidyard offer their own analytics, and Vzaar integrates with Google Analytics.
5. If you want to capture leads with an effective call-to-action.
Our recommendation to all of our clients is to end their videos with a call-to-action rather than a simple logo — a way for the viewer to click and connect with their company or organization. You can do that on YouTube with annotations or end cards, but Wistia's clickable CTA is better. It allows you to easily capture the viewer's email address to start a real conversation and a real connection. Sprout and Vidyard also allow you to capture emails.
Remember, one of the great things about video is that you can make as many copies as you want. Put one on YouTube, another on Facebook, and embed a copy on your website with one of these more marketing-oriented players. You might be surprised by the results.