Video Marketing for small business is growing in importance in the media-rich, entertain me culture we now live in. That much we know. In order to show your videos on your website, there are a number of things you need to consider for how to serve up your video files, because they tend to get large and load slowly, so using a service in the cloud to host your videos that has mega-capacity and specializing in streaming video is a good idea. It ultimately comes down to ease of use versus control, with a little bit of quality and user-experience blended in.
Video Hosting Services
There are literally dozens of capable video hosting services out there you can use, and this is not the venue to review them all. Some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. I’ll list and link to some of the biggies here for both free and paid video sharing services. You can click on the links and try them out and form your own conclusions.
Free Video Sharing Sites
- Youtube – Granddaddy of them all. World’s premiere video sharing site. Initially videos limited to 15 minutes (used to be 10) but if you put enough of them up, you can get granted unlimited length rights.
- Vimeo – Similar to Youtube, but less popular.
- Revver – Allows you to make money on your video with tactical ad placement.
- Viddler – Free service available, a bit more customizable than Youtube; paid B2B service as well.
- Google Videos – Part of the Google suite; allows you to sell your video downloads.
- Yahoo Videos – Yahoo’s version, also includes a search across hosting platforms.
- Metacafe – Highly rated free service for customer service and formats used.
- Daily Motion – Categorized videos into social networking.
Paid Video Sharing Sites
- Playstream – Larger volume storage video streamer.
- On Stream Media – Similar to Playstream.
- Amazon S3 – Not a video sharing site per se, but extremely affordable large cloud storage that works in conjunction with EZ Player or other players for fast video streaming on your site.
- Viddler B2B – Designed for business, secure white-label, unbranded options, but starts at $100/month.
Small Business Options
If your business is not video production but something else, in most case you can stream video to your site using any of the free video sharing solutions listed above, Youtube being the most prevalent. Many of my clients are consultants, engineers, lawyers—people in white collar services, and they use video interviews or some other format to highlight their value for site viewers. There are things you should know about free and paid video hosting solutions and questions you should ask.
Free Video Sharing: What You Need to Know
I’ll use Youtube for this discussion since it is where I am many of my video clients host their videos for streaming on their websites.
- Free video sharing sites are generally easy to set up an account and upload videos.
- Youtube takes most formats and converts them to .mp4 or .flv (flash) for playback.
- In Youtube’s case, it has a huge search engine and is loved by its parent, Google, so getting your public videos found is more likely from an SEO standpoint (which also helps your site). You can restrict access to videos such as products only available to members.
- Decent analytics and ability to tailor your channel.
- Easy to embed player for your site.
- Recognizable with the Youtube icon in the corner and can actually lead to more clicks.
These are all good things, but like all FREE services, they get paid somehow, and if you’re not careful can pull visitors away from your video to other stuff. You also lose a bit of control when using a free service like Youtube or Vimeo.
- Youtube limits videos to 15 min. Often for power users they will upgrade you to unlimited video upload file size, but you never know when this will happen. I was fortunate and use longer videos for my Vlogs on the Smart Blog.
- As a standard feature Youtube displays other people’s videos at the conclusion to yours in addition to a “replay video” option. The good news is that you can disable this in your embed code.
- If a visitor clicks through to your channel, the blog comments are outside of your control, so unhappy customers can post ill will and damage your reputation
- Youtube is in ultimate control. Make sure all your videos are backed up on your server because people have been shut down, even large users, for no apparent reason. This is a rare occurrence but a risk.
The good news is, for small businesses with just a handful of videos to promote goods and services, these risks are manageable. Most people will watch the video on your site if you properly embed the player code (and not link away to the Youtube site) you minimize the distracting other videos that might pull users away.
Paid Video Hosting: What You Need to Know
In this case I’ll use as an example the increasingly popular Amazon S3 hosting option, recommended to me by my friend Phil Montero of The Anywhere Office. S3 stands for Simple Storage Service and is a nice control option to free video hosting services.
- Any size video uploads straight out of the gate.
- Video is protected so it is only accessible where you provide the player and stream it. S3 is a storage solution, not a video sharing site per se.
- Very inexpensive for a dedicated storage solution, as in $0.14/GB per month.
- Your video is your video, with no links to other people’s videos to contend with, ads, etc.
Unfortunately, Amazon S3 has drawbacks as well…
- S3 isn’t so simple, and there is some tech stuff needed to get set up, upload files, and install what usually is a paid player on your site to fetch the videos. Not for the do-it-yourselfer unless you are a geek.
- It’s not a search engine nor indexed, so in and of itself S3 doesn’t help your off-site SEO.
Recommendations for Small Business Video Hosting
For most promotional video, you want it seen by as many people as possible. Free sites like Youtube make that easy, as well as providing a relatively high-speed streaming embed for playing on your site. In social media profiles, you may have to link away. Your Youtube channel itself can be searched and ranked by Google, and the video on your page helps its Search Engine Optimization as well. Due to its ease of use and find-ability, I recommend using Youtube for your promotional videos.
On the other hand, if you are developing paid video content such as course material, you may want to restrict access to your paid members and serve up the professional, won’t link away capability brought about by a service like Amazon S3, where you are in control yet get the same speed of stream (many say it’s faster) than your free hosting solution.
A combined strategy provides you with the best of both worlds of control and public availability depending upon your small business usage.
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