Even in the twilight years of cat videos, vloggers, and ice bucket challenges it can be hard to see how any online video platform could begin to compete with YouTube. As of 2017 their audience numbers were in the range of 1,300,000,000 people.
In recent years though we’ve seen the beginning of what may prove to be the fall of Rome — uhh, I mean YouTube — through unannounced changes to the way particular content is promoted to the average viewer. These changes, which define and elevate ‘advertiser friendly’ content at the cost of all else, have left even the most popular YouTubers short of views and looking for alternative platforms. The news is even worse for animated content, as YouTube’s ‘quantity is better than quality’ algorithms leave labour-intensive media like animation in the dust.
If your brand is one of many who look to animated explainer videos as an effective way to explain your products and services, it’s worthwhile knowing what other options you have when choosing a platform to host your brand’s videos.
1) Self-Hosting On Your Website As an alternative to video hosting sites in general, self-hosting videos through your own website offers a number of advantages. All the traffic is yours, all the rules are yours, and there are no third-party ads or irrelevant playlists to distract from your content. When the video finishes, the clickthrough content is whatever you want it to be. On the downside, hosting your own videos takes up a huge amount of bandwidth, making your page slower to load and more prone to crashing if your bandwidth is limited. Third-party hosting sites also take care of all the multi-platform optimisation, meaning one upload is ready to go for viewing on desktop, mobile, and tablet.
2) Vimeo With 715 million views per month Vimeo is YouTube’s strongest, though statistically much smaller, competitor. Arguably, Vimeo’s strongest suit is its favouring of viewing quality over quantity, to the point where some might refer to Vimeo as the classy cousin of YouTube. On the flipside, uploading business/advertising content requires a paid account, and the free account has weekly and yearly upload limits. If your content is infrequent and creative this may not be an issue, but for frequent and business-related videos you’ll likely be paying a monthly fee to be part of the Vimeo experience. But again on the flipped-flipside, a Vimeo business account comes with the luxury of VIP support and much greater professional privacy tools than behemoth Youtube is capable of offering.
3) Patreon Unlike most of the other options on this list, Patreon is more than a video sharing site. It functions like a mixture of traditional art commission, crowdfunding, and (I mean this in the best of ways) digital busking. Patrons pay a regular pledge to see regular work from content creators. In this way Patreon is generally suited to independent creators more than teams or businesses. It also isn’t a viable source of income for most creators. Where it does shine though is in its focus on fostering a fan following. A true sense of community can be one of the hardest things to build for a brand, but when your patrons feel genuinely close to you and your work this is incredibly valuable.
4) Facebook Posting your explainer videos natively to Facebook can help infiltrate your social audience in ways YouTube cannot. Facebook videos show up as playable previews in the News Feed, while YouTube links only show a static card with the video title and thumbnail image. The immediacy of watching a video directly in the feed combined with Facebook’s favouring of native video results in ten times greater shares than YouTube links, according to Forbes.
5) Twitch If your brand’s video profile encompasses live streaming, Twitch is a popular option. Designed originally for game streaming, Twitch now caters for a variety of other genres including creative arts, cooking, tutorial videos and real life chats. Be creative with the ways you can work live streaming into your brand profile and develop an engaged community of regular viewers as a reward. As of late 2017 Twitch had 15 million daily active users.
6) Flickr Yes, the classic photo sharing site Flickr now accepts video submissions of three minutes or less, up to 1 GB. You can only access stats on your video views with a Pro account, but for quick ‘n’ dirty explainer video uploads Flickr is an easy-to-use dumping ground. Owned by Yahoo, Flicker has over 90 million monthly users as at the end of 2017.
7) Metacafe Founded in 2003 and somehow still up and running, Metacafe specialises in short form video content in a variety of styles. Total honesty here: if your video titles are on the verge of clickbait then this is a good place to be. Metacafe’s most popular videos are often under 1 minute, so brevity is vital if you’re uploading here.
8) Dailymotion If you’re a big brand with regular quality editorial content, Dailymotion is another potential option as an outlet for video content. Most of the videos that hit the ‘trending’ front page are sponsored and highly focussed on light entertainment: red carpet interviews, previews to sporting events, award show highlights. Fictional content is rare, with most creative contribution coming in the form of big label music videos.
Conclusion While YouTube certainly still has a stranglehold on the digital video scene, it’s a good time to be exploring the possible alternatives. Time will tell which platform proves best for the future of explainer videos, and it’s wise to keep in mind that no single website will magically help your videos be seen with no other work. But in the meantime, there’s certainly no shortage of options to sink your gigabytes into.
Written by Maree Railton