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YouTube vs. Vimeo – a classic rivalry where one is more popular than the other – but is it really better? While they are certainly not the only two video sharing sites online, they are by far the most popular. YouTube and Vimeo have their similarities – and their differences. Whichever you decide is “best” is up to you.

Youtube vs Vimeo

YouTube is to online videos what Google is to Search. Once your brand is being used as a verb you know you’re big time – i.e. “Have you seen that new beer commercial? Just YouTube it!” Founded in 2005, YouTube was the first to allow users to easily upload videos online, a task that was tedious and frustrating in the past. YouTube’s simple interface and worldwide reach made it possible for hundreds of millions of people to post and watch millions of videos from all over the globe. Great right? Well…it depends. While there are literally millions of amazing, useful, insightful and creative videos on YouTube…there are even more of the opposite. Annoying, stupid, awful, useless wastes of time.

Surprising to most, Vimeo was actually founded before YouTube, all the way back in 2004. And, similar to YouTube, it was founded by a couple of  bright entrepreneurial minds who saw an online opportunity that wasn’t being met, and were eventually bought up by the big guy. Vimeo is now owned by IAC, who also owns College Humour, Ask and Urbanspoon, just to name a few. Their counterpart, YouTube, is owned by Google – no introduction necessary.

So which one is “the best”? Let’s pit the two head-to-head and find out!

Content Restrictions

While it seems as if YouTube will allow anything to be uploaded, they do have some restrictions. According to their terms of service, YouTube does not allow any videos including defamation, pornography, copyright violations or anything that encourages criminal behaviour. On the other hand, Vimeo does now allow any commercial videos, gaming videos, pornography or anything not created by the users.

Quantity or Quality?

If you’re looking purely at the numbers, YouTube is your undisputed champion. YouTube’s 2 million minutes of new content daily easily trumps Vimeo’s 13,000 daily uploads. But, as the expression goes, sometimes less is more. It all depends on what you’re looking for. Quality or quantity? After all, most of the videos uploaded on Vimeo are in HD.

Uploading Content

If you’re going to offer the easiest online video sharing service, uploading your content has to be simple. And with both platforms, it is. The difference between the two lies in how big of a file, and how long of a video you can upload. With YouTube, your videos cannot exceed 10 minutes in length, and 2GB in size. With Vimeo however, there is no cap on the length of video that a user can upload. However, videos cannot be larger than 1GB, and users can only upload 500MB per week with a basic account.

Social Community

The whole point of these sites is to share your content with others, right. While YouTube has a much larger reach, it may not be the right outlet for you to showcase your work. YouTube users tend to be much more…how shall I put this nicely…critical of your videos, whereas Vimeo users often praise each other and show appreciation for the content posted. That being said, often times this criticism is justified due to the aforementioned “annoying, stupid, awful, useless wastes of time” that are on YouTube. Either way, if you can take the heat, go for YouTube. But, if you’re looking to share with a a more forgiving audience, Vimeo is for you.

Visual Interface

While we’ve already talked about the quality of the videos on YouTube and Vimeo, how does the actual interface look? Well, this is usually a lobsided argument. Most people find YouTube very cluttered, and frankly ugly. The constant ads and annoying annotations (those tacky speech bubbles that always pop up over your video) are the two most hated features on YouTube. My biggest pet peeve, however, is their control bar, which is always in plain sight. With Vimeo, once you hover the mouse off of the player, the volume control, play button, pause button, embed button, share button – everything – disappears, giving the video player a much nicer, cleaner look.

Good for Business?

Now, here’s the kicker – which one is better for you to promote your brand? I guess this is another one of those “it all depends” scenarios. If you’re aspiring to be the next big pop star, YouTube is the place for you. I joke, but it worked for Justin Bieber, didn’t it? That 16 year year old kid from Stratford, Ontario is now a Worldwide teen sensation, and as much as some of us despise him, he made his fame, and his fortune, by using YouTube to promote himself.

As for actual businesses, it is a little tougher to decide. YouTube has the reach, but Vimeo has the quality. From a business perspective, there is one thing about YouTube that bothers me. Let’s say, for example, you have a link on your website to a video on your company’s YouTube Channel. Once a viewer has watched that video, a series of “related videos” appear on the screen. While this is great for the user because they can now watch more content that interests them, it is not necessarily great for me. That related content could be, and probably is, my competition. Sending a potential customer from my website, to my YouTube Channel, and then to a competitor is not part of my master plan.

Below are examples of WebFuel’s video “Social Media, Eh?” on YouTube and Vimeo.

Social Media, Eh? from WebFuel on Vimeo.

When it comes down to it, YouTube vs. Vimeo is a seemingly endless debate, not unlike Coke vs. Pepsi. There will always be people who prefer YouTube, and others that will only use Vimeo. But understanding the pros and cons of both is essential in deciding how to promote yourself online.

Which do you prefer – YouTube or Vimeo?