Social Media Video Hosting: Pros & Cons of the Top 5 Platforms
It’s no secret that video is at the core of engagement on the internet and social media.
With the rise of platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, opportunities in video have not escaped the eyes of social media institutions Facebook and Twitter. Now is the time for businesses to capitalise on the growing trend of hosting videos on social media and grab that customer engagement with both hands.
Here’s a breakdown of the top five social media friendly video hosting options currently available to all. Each option has its pros and cons but at least one will be perfect for your business.
This platform is instantly recognisable and has been with us since 2005, purchased by Google in 2006. Though there have been similar platforms before and since, YouTube took the crown in user experience by allowing anyone to set up their own channel and upload videos of any length.
YouTube is now home to a whole range of videos including; video game streaming, music videos and instructional videos to cooking recipes, opinion pieces, product reviews, news and vlogs.
- Channels can be created to reflect branding, name and style
- No limit to video length or quality – quality can also be adjusted by the viewer to suit different internet speeds
- People can subscribe to your channel and receive notifications when a new video is uploaded, encouraging views and interaction
- Videos are easily shared with other platforms
- The YouTube mobile app has the ability to record videos directly from your mobile device, so if you’re the type of business happy to do face-to-camera videos then this is a super quick way of getting content to your subscribers
- Anyone can comment on, like and dislike your videos even if they haven’t subscribed to your channel, meaning moderation and CRM is crucial
- Being found in the sea of YouTube can be a challenge. Categories are available to make sure your video has a chance of being found
- You do have the option to have adverts before, during and after your content and can create some income but from a user point of view this can detract from the overall experience
Though there has been the ability to upload videos to Facebook for quite some time, it’s only recently Facebook have made some dramatic changes to improve the experience of both uploading and viewing. This includes higher quality video, ability to tag other people and post multiple videos in one go.
One of the biggest changes has been Facebook Live. This is the ability to live stream videos from a mobile device. First rolled out for a select few (mostly celebrities or people of interest) it is now available to all users.
- A HD option is available and can be toggled on and off by the viewer
- A ‘live’ option is now available to all Facebook users and pages
- The video will auto play with no sound when it appears in a timeline making content more attractive
- Facebook organises your videos into a place on your page for people to look over again or scroll through if visiting your page for the first time.
- A description of any length can be added as you upload the video
- Viewers can easily share your videos with their friends on Facebook
- Sharing the video across other platforms such as Twitter or within a website or blog can be problematic and doesn’t always look tidy or professional
- Only fans of your page or friends of your profile will get to see if the video has been uploaded unless you pay to sponsor the post, raising the chances it’ll show in other timelines
- Facebook isn’t a native video hosting type of site, though they are making moves to change this, but right now video feels like an add-on or second thought compared to other platforms
Twitter continue to invest in buying dedicated video streaming or video producing software such as machine learning start-up Magic Pony (2016) and previous to that they bought Periscope (2015) and short format video platform Vine (2012) before either had even been released to the public.
So it’s fair to say Twitter are serious about getting their live video streaming and hosting right. This also means if you choose to host your videos on Twitter you have plenty of options when it comes to format and audience.
- You have the choice to ‘go live’ and stream a video live for your Twitter followers to see in real time or watch later on if they miss it. This is done through Periscope which is now fully integrated into Twitter. Both apps are needed on your mobile device for this to work
- You can also choose to upload pre-recorded videos, which with a scheduling tool can form part of a very effective social media strategy.
- Twitter itself has a massive active user base currently sitting at 313 million people so with the right social media strategy your video could be seen instantly by your target audience with almost instant feedback.
- If you have built up a good community of contacts on Twitter then they will likely retweet or interact with your video which in turn increases your reach to a wider audience
- Limited to 140 characters when describing the video content
- Sharing across other platforms can look untidy and unprofessional
- A Periscope account is needed for live streaming
You may be surprised to see Snapchat as a recommendation for businesses. But the platform has gone from a teenager’s obsession to a well-oiled media machine.
Snapchat has been described as an ephemeral social platform – lasting for a very short time. It allows you to take photos or very short videos (12 seconds) and send them to a list of contacts you have either from your own contact list or social media contacts. Using this function means the photos or videos will only appear for a short period of time to the receiver before it disappears for good.
However you are also able to share your photos and videos as ‘My Story’ which broadcasts your photos and videos to all of your contacts who follow you. This content will disappear to all after 24 hours. This is the function best chosen by businesses.
Whether this was intended by Snapchat originally is unclear, but many brands, businesses and celebrities have run with it and it is now a permanent feature of many social media strategies.
- Short format and lifespan of photos and videos means less time required to great content
- Snapchat is a niche market and if your brand can tap into the exclusivity of this platform then you will reap the benefits of a growing audience or fan base
- A chat function means your Snapchat friends can instantly get in touch so call to actions can be sent out via this platform, even to follow you on other social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook
- Not all businesses will suit the short format. Make sure your brand and image would benefit by looking at how other businesses use this type of content
- Unless you have a booming community base on other platforms then Snapchat may not work for your business
- Snapchat Stories or ‘My Story’ content is only visible for 24 hours so regularly engaging your followers across other platforms with the promotion of your Snapchat is crucial
More recently they have introduced Instagram Stories which might sound familiar (see above). Again this is the ability to share a short video or photo with all who follow your Instagram account but then will disappear after 24 hours.
It’s similarities with Snapchat Stories means there is potential here that many businesses are yet to tap into.
- Instagram can provide a solid community base depending on the niche of your business
- As a dedicated photo and video sharing platform, Instagram is the best place for visual businesses to share and edit their content
- Hashtags can be used share your content about
- Other platforms can be linked to Instagram so content is automatically shared when uploaded
- Instagram Stories can only be seen by the people who follow you on Instagram
- Very few businesses suit this platform – think about what products and services your business provide and if this would translate well on Instagram
- Regularly uploading content is a necessity due to Instagram’s algorithm (how the timeline is displayed)
Above are five platforms to choose from, and it is highly recommended that all five are tried and only the ones that work are kept. Creating content on a platform that serves no purpose to your business is a waste of time and resource that could be better spent elsewhere.
Remember – don’t use a platform just because a competitor is. Find the platforms that compliment your business’s originality and creativity and so puts you a head of your competitors.
Have we missed any video hosting platforms or pros/cons? Let us know in the comments section.