This might be a familiar scenario: your business has decided that they need video content in order to further promote their brand, so you contract a video production team, who produces a video for you. Your business now has a professionally filmed and edited video, but… where do you host it?

Determining the most appropriate site is sometimes more problematic than actually producing it in the first place. When it comes to hosting sites, the three most popular are YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia. Which is best for your business?

Truth be told, all three sites can be exceptional options. While many content marketers and self-proclaimed video gurus will provide a laundry list of different factors to consider, what ultimately determines the best option for your video is intention. What is the overall intention of your video? How do you want your video to serve you and your business?

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of each host:

YOUTUBE.

As the single largest host of video content on the internet, YouTube has found great success as a host of educational, entertainment, and vlog content. With a massive user base (3.25 billion views per month) and its functionality as the second largest search engine on the internet, it seems like an obvious choice.
However, is YouTube the best option for your video?

If your business is built around producing video content, then YouTube is definitely a viable option. Many successful careers and businesses, such as vlogging and gaming communities, are built solely around the content they produce (through revenue generated by advertisements on their channels). Simply put, if your videos are intended to entertain or inform, YouTube will serve you well.

That being said, if your video content is intended to draw people back to your own website, there may be more suitable alternatives to YouTube. Make no mistake, YouTube’s huge userbase provides a lot of potential. However, there is a massive amount of content competing on YouTube, and getting people to A) find your video and B) leave YouTube to visit your website can be extremely difficult.

Any traffic your video generates will improve its ranking on YouTube, which is definitely a plus, but it does nothing to improve your own website’s ranking, even if the video is embedded on your domain. In that sense, YouTube may be more effective as an advertising tool if used in combination with another hosting site.

VIMEO.

One of the biggest alternatives to YouTube, Vimeo has a much smaller community of users, with around 715 million views per month. However, Vimeo’s users are primarily comprised of independent professionals looking to network. As a result, Vimeo is far less saturated than YouTube in regards to user created content.

There are a few things you should consider, though, when determining whether to use Vimeo for your video.

Vimeo is not just a palette-swapped version of YouTube. Though similar in terms of functionality, Vimeo distinguishes itself from YouTube by having a more streamlined visual aesthetic, especially when the player is embedded to your website. Even better, Vimeo doesn’t force ads onto your videos. If your video has high production value, it would certainly fit in with the rest of Vimeo’s content from a visual standpoint.

What tends to thrive on Vimeo, however, is artistic and cinematic content. Vimeo’s userbase is reflective of this, and as a result, Vimeo tends to cater to the more professional artistic/creative communities, with users that are not as receptive to videos intended for marketing purposes.

Vimeo also has issues similar to YouTube in regards to getting viewers to visit your website. This is even more problematic when you consider that the monthly viewership of Vimeo is 22% of what YouTube gets.

Content on Vimeo also streams at a much higher rate than the majority of those found on YouTube. This can be a good or bad thing; on one hand, this means that the quality of your video will look and sound noticeably better when hosted on Vimeo. However, efficiently streaming your video would require a powerful internet connection. This could make your video potentially unwatchable if viewed in areas without a strong internet connection.

Though a basic Vimeo membership is free, there are upload/storage limitations, as well as analytic and privacy features that are not available to free members. To truly reap the benefits of what Vimeo has to offer, you might want to take advantage of one of its three paid membership brackets: Vimeo Plus, Vimeo PRO, and Vimeo Business. Note that you will not be able to upload any marketing/commercial content to Vimeo unless you upgrade to a PRO or Business membership.

WISTIA.

Wistia is somewhat of an underdog when compared to YouTube or Vimeo. While its viewership and userbase is much smaller, Wistia offers much more in sheer data. With numerous ways to research, track, and retain viewers, Wistia is an exceptional tool for marketing professionals.

Aside from its analytic offerings, Wistia’s player is fully customizable, making it blend in seamlessly when embedded on your website. Additionally, when a video is embedded, it generates traffic for your website, improving your domain’s SEO rather than the host’s (like with YouTube and Vimeo). You can also generate new leads with Wistia’s email collector, Turnstile. Basically, if your video is intended to market and generate new customers for your business, Wistia has a lot to offer you.

Wistia is not without its disadvantages, however. Compared to Vimeo, Wistia’s paid membership brackets are much more expensive, with the cheapest starting at $100/month, up to the most expensive at $300/month. Though there is a free membership option, it only allows for up to 3 videos to be hosted at any given time.

Perhaps the largest disadvantage Wistia has is its ability to generate third-party traffic. Since your video, for all intents and purposes, lives on your website, there is zero chance that someone browsing YouTube or Vimeo will see it. This also means that, unlike YouTube or Vimeo, your Wistia video is not searchable.

WHAT ARE YOUR INTENTIONS?

If you are looking to produce video content on a regular basis and increase awareness of your brand, YouTube is a great choice for hosting your video. If you are intending to network with a largely professional and artistically-inclined community, Vimeo may be a better option. If you are all about data and strengthening your domain’s SEO, Wistia is your go-to.

As previously stated, all three sites are great choices for hosting your video. Each provides a different toolset, user experience, and cater to a more specific audience. That being said, your prospective audience may be too diverse to be represented by just one host. A combined approach, using some mixture of the three, may yield the best results for your video.

Regardless, before you decide where you are going to post your video, ask yourself: what are my intentions?