YouTube vs. Vimeo is like Mac vs. PC. Sure, hipsters love their Macs because owning one makes you a million times cooler than stuffy boring PC owners. But in the U.S., there are about 10 PC users for every one Mac user. If “cool” was our standard of measurement, then Macs may win (OK, would win). But if we are measuring by reach and impact, PC is the uncontested victor.
The same is true for YouTube vs. Vimeo. Most churches and church leaders primarily use Vimeo because it’s cleaner, sleeker, cooler, whatever. But YouTube’s reach and impact far exceeds Vimeo’s, and that gap is increasing in YouTube’s favor.
One thing every church leader I know agrees with is that we are called to reach and impact people with the gospel. So when it comes to which platform churches should use, YouTube trumps Vimeo hands down—YouTube is where the people are.
So why should churches and church leaders be using YouTube? Here are a few reasons:
Right now Vimeo gets 60 million unique visitors per month. YouTube gets over 1 billion unique visitors. That’s 1,566% more visitors per month. YouTube is where the people are.
Vimeo search is like chewing gum in the morning instead of brushing your teeth. It kind of works, but ultimately, it still stinks. On the other hand, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet, which is saying a lot because it’s not primarily a search engine. And because Google owns YouTube, those videos often show up in Google searches anyway, many times on the first page.
One of the strengths on YouTube is sharing and discovery. If you optimize a YouTube video well, you can get new traffic month after month, sometimes for years. Social sharing is also integrated into YouTube, meaning videos travel person to person throughout the other social networks. Vimeo is weak on all of the above.
This point may be tit for tat. Vimeo definitely has some great features, but I believe YouTube is still much stronger, especially for churches.
YouTube offers great playlist features, innovative annotations that allow you to interconnect videos and drive social engagement, a great subscription model allowing you to build your audience, and channel trailers that promote the why and what of your channel. YouTube also takes it a step further by including a royalty free music library and an online video editor offering stabilization and effects for your videos. Armed with just a smart phone and your message, you can shoot and upload a video and then up the production value right there on YouTube. This is a huge advantage for churches and church leaders with limited resources.
Both YouTube and Vimeo are social networks. Both have integrated commenting systems, as well as legitimate communities. However, YouTube is much larger and arguably a much more social, social network than Vimeo.
YouTube is kind of like the Mos Eisley Cantina on Star Wars—a melting pot of strange and hostile humans, haters, trolls and those you will assume are from another planet. But we are not called to perfect places or perfect people. We are called to meet people right where they are. YouTube is a quirky community, but a community all the same that needs digital missionaries who “get it.”
This one is pretty easy. You can upload unlimited HD videos of any length or stream HD content on YouTube for free. Vimeo has a monthly or yearly membership fee that increase if you add more content than you are allowed. That’s why our church switched to using YouTube as our primary online video platform—to save money.
Are You Anti-Vimeo?
It may seem like I’m anti-Vimeo—I’m not. Both my church and I use and embrace Vimeo. It’s a great platform. But I want the videos I create to reach and impact as many people as possible, and I believe that churches and church leaders are missing a major opportunity with YouTube.
Objections to YouTube
There are certainly objections when it comes to churches using YouTube. I can’t cover all of them here, but I do address them in detail in my book, YouTube for Churches. YouTube is not perfect and should be approached with wisdom and discernment by church leaders. The waters of YouTube can be stormy at times, but smooth seas don’t make good sailors.
So let’s embrace YouTube and create remarkable content that shares the gospel with the world in creative ways!