Which video platform should your church be using? YouTube or Vimeo? Let’s start the discussion with an illustration.

Imagine a carpenter building a table or a bench. His tools are laid out around him and his materials are front and center. It looks like he needs to make a special cut. We would probably be confused if he reaches for his hammer instead of his saw. Likewise, if he needs to connect two pieces of wood, he’s not going to get very far with a saw, but a hammer and nails will do the job wonderfully! You see, it’s not enough to have tools. You need to know which one to use in the correct situation.

This applies to technology as well. Today’s churches and non-profit organizations have a vast array of technological tools at their disposal. They sometimes don’t know which to use for the greatest benefit. That’s why it’s important to understand that some situations will require one tech solution and others will require something different. For example, if your church is reaching out to young people, using a social media platform like Instagram is a good move. If your main target audience is from an older generation, another platform like Facebook or email may be more effective. 

So, when we ask ourselves which video platform, YouTube or Vimeo, we should be using for our church media, we need to determine the basic purpose we’re using them for. To get started, let’s review what sets these two platforms apart in the first place.

What’s the Difference?

YouTube and Vimeo are both video-sharing platforms on the web, but they differ quite a bit in terms of structure, pricing, and audience reach. Right off the bat, one of the big differences between the two is price. YouTube is free to use, while Vimeo requires users to pay for the platform on all but the most basic level. But there’s a trade-off.. Because YouTube does not charge for the use of their platform, they make money through ads. Vimeo is predominantly ad-free, leading to a more professional presentation and more convenient viewer experience. Churches and Christian non-profit organizations may also favor Vimeo to avoid the chance of getting caught up with questionable advertising content on their videos.

One big advantage of using YouTube is its audience reach. Over one billion people use YouTube, compared to about 170 million members on Vimeo. Google also owns YouTube so there’s a good chance that they favor YouTube over other platforms in search results. YouTube certainly has a large audience and is set up to reach it. Vimeo has a smaller audience, though it’s still impressive.

Another distinction between the two platforms is how they handle private videos. According to WP Beginner, Vimeo offers more flexibility for private videos. If you are running a membership site or publish content that you wish only certain individuals can view, Vimeo is a good option. You can create password-protected videos and even disable other people from embedding the video onto any website but your own. YouTube also offers varying levels of privacy from “Public” videos that anyone on the web can view to “Private” videos that require you to manually approve specific users to view the video. Unfortunately, if you disable embedding on your video, you can’t embed it on your own site. 

Which should I use?

After examining the differences between these two platforms, we’re left wondering: which platform should my organization use?

That depends a lot on what purpose your videos will play in your organization. (Remember our tool analogy?)

For churches, there are a number of different video types you should consider creating: sermon recordings, event promotions, interviews with staff and members, etc. Let’s take a couple of these examples and explore what video platform option would be best for each.

Event promotional videos are videos that educate the public about an event that the church is organizing and invites them to participate. This might be a VBS or something similar. If the event is a public event, open to people outside the church, you’ll want to make sure it is visible to as many people as possible. YouTube might be the best option in this case, due to its wide audience and reach.

On the other hand, perhaps a members’ meeting was recorded with a special announcement for church members only. In this case, Vimeo might be a better option. Using Vimeo in this situation will allow you to privatize your video, control its sharing settings, and yet still be able to post it on your website on a special members’ page.

These examples seek to illustrate how each video platform, YouTube and Vimeo, have merit for different situations and purposes. Keep in mind that YouTube’s free price tag and its opportunity for wider reach makes it a great option for event promotions, and other church publicity videos. Vimeo’s professional aesthetic and secure flexibility makes it perfect for sermons, announcements, and church website welcome videos.

Make the most of your videos

Videos are a great way to engage with web visitors and invite them to experience your church in person. Videos are able to catch people’s attention in a special way. Whatever video platform you use, you should be creating videos for your church or non-profit organization to make the most of your online presence!

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