YouTube vs. Vimeo: Our test experience

In today’s blog presentation we describe how we resolved a problem we had with our short clip videos on Facebook. An issue came up for first video when we posted it on Facebook. Fortunately, there are options and we figured out how to fix the issue for our second video. This is learning that will be important to you if you plan to post videos on Facebook and use promoted posts and pay-per-click advertising to generate more traffic to thevideo.

For our first video in our Name That Tune contest, we posted it to YouTube, and then used the YouTube link on our Facebook fan page. Then I selected the “promote” option. When you do, you are given the option of promoting the post to people who like your page. Or, for greater reach, you can choose people who like your page and their friends.

You set the budget which is directly related to the estimated reach. For $20 we can reach between one thousand to two thousand people who are friends of people who like our page.

It’s an inexpensive way, at least in absolute dollars, to reach the friends of our existing fans. Friends of people who already like our page are probably the type of people who could become fans of our organization, and someday come to a performance, purchase a recording, or maybe even make a contribution.

We have used promoted posts in the past. Based on our use of promoted posts last Christmas, and the fact that Christmas show ticket sales were up 20 percent over a year earlier, we believe those promoted posts contributed to the sales increase, and we certainly know that using promoted posts grew our number of fans.

So when I posted our first video in this series for the Spring Shows, I used the promoted post option as I’ve done several times before. But this time, a few hours later I received an email notification from Facebook that the promoted post wasn’t approved.

While there are several reasons why a promoted post may not be approved, we narrowed the list down to one likely culprit: the text in the still frame, or “thumbnail” image, that YouTube had pre-selected. That frame occupied more than 20 percent of total image.

Facebook wants 80 percent or more of the image to be a photograph or other graphic treatment. Our video still image, which we had no control in selecting on YouTube, exceeded the 20 percent limit.

Please understand that Facebook still included the video on our page and it was visible and played for our fans, but it meant our post would not be promoted to friends of fans.

Unfortunately, by the time I learned the Facebook promoted post hadn’t been approved, we already had several comments on Facebook which were considered entries in the contest. Attempting to change it would have triggered other problems.

So while Facebook wouldn’t approve the promoted post, and it’s clear in their Terms and Advertising Guidelines that they wouldn’t, it was YouTube that we had to work around.

You see, when you post a video on YouTube, you are given the choice of one of three frames that you choose as the frozen frame image visible on YouTube, Facebook, or wherever else you post it. It’s really the luck of the draw if you get a frame that looks good. That’s why when you see the image of me hidden behind the Play button here on this blog, sometimes it shows me with my mouth open or some other less-than-flattering pose. By the way, we should note that YouTube is currently testing with a few users the ability to choose the exact frame they want as their thumbnail image.

The inability to choose an exact frame for the still image on YouTube creates a potential issue when you want to promote your posts on Facebook. If all three of the frame options from YouTube have more than 20 percent of text on them, you probably won’t be able to promote your post on Facebook.

Thankfully there is an alternative in Vimeo. Vimeo allows the user to choose the exact frame from the video you want to appear when the video isn’t playing. In fact, any JPG or other image file format can be uploaded and used, at your discretion.

So for our second video, when Perry edited it, he created frames where the text was less than 20 percent of the image. We loaded it on Vimeo, selected the frame with less than 20 percent as text and posted that version.

Facebook approved the promoted post, which enabled us to also create a pay-per-click advertising program. In the meantime, the video was also posted on YouTube which we use for the video on our landing page.

While hosting the videos in two places is a bit inconvenient, one good outcome of the separation is that we will be able to analyze views on Vimeo, which we know will all come from Facebook, versus views on YouTube that will be from our landing page.

There are pros and cons for both YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet right now. The analytics on YouTube are outstanding, giving you audience retention, demographics, and much more. But with YouTube, there is a lack of flexibility, at least for now, for most users, on the still frame that you can choose.

Vimeo also has good analytics in terms of views, but not audience retention, demographics and other data. But on the positive side for Vimeo, you choose your frame and that’s a big plus if you plan to promote your video on Facebook. Vimeo offers other flexibility, as well.

Before we close, we did want to give you a quick update on our response to the Name That Tune video series so far. I can tell you the campaign has generated significant interest from fans. The first videos have each had over a thousand views within hours and generated a lot of traffic to both Facebook and our web landing page. People are commenting and talking about the contest, all building interest in the days leading up to the show when momentum kicks in and we expect to see ticket sales pick up significantly. That’s when we’ll find out if this idea really worked.

We’re pioneering here and don’t claim to have all of the answers. But we’re able to test, share our experiences like our glitch on Facebook and how to resolve those issues, along with results, whether good or bad. Through this process we hope to give you the confidence to test this approach for your organization.




Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.