Created almost at the same time, the trajectories of Vimeo and Youtube, the two most important video-sharing websites, have been very different. The choice between one or other will determine which will be our audience.

Looking at Google Trends graphs for Vimeo and Youtube, we see that the curves of the search volume index are different. First of all, it was necessary to separate the two graphs, as the YouTube search volume is so large that the Vimeo’s curve was imperceptible.

While YouTube took off immediately and achieved great success almost from the beginning (confirmed by the acquisition of YouTube by Google), Vimeo had quite trouble getting a sufficient mass of visitors and users.

Despite this disadvantage, Vimeo has not disappeared under the tide of its competitor. On the contrary, it has managed to create its own space, which YouTube does not reach (neither it seems to be interested in).

Thus, in a similar way as it has happened with Microsoft and Apple, YouTube has focused on the volume, while Vimeo has specialized in quality. YouTube has managed to attract the masses, but Vimeo has achieved something very valuable: the fidelity of a select community.

Vimeo has become the favorite video-sharing website for designers, musicians, independent filmmakers and, in general, all those who are more interested in the quality of their creations than if they can get a viral video.

Some comparisons:

It is possible to choose among many proposed thumbnails or to upload an image. It is only possible to choose among three proposed thumbnails.
Videos can be replaced without losing the url. Videos cannot be replaced, only deleted.
When the video ends, Vimeo suggests other videos by the same author. When the video ends, YouTube suggests other related videos, whether or not by the same author.
It never includes advertising in videos. It can include advertising in videos.
It has beautiful icons that do not interfere with the video. It has unattractive icons that interfere with the video.
Community building is not among its priorities. Its priorities are users’ connection and communities’ creation.
It promotes the higher quality videos. It promotes the most viewed videos.

Users who choose Vimeo want a video that is visually clean and that can be integrated in their websites without clash. Their aim is to attract audiences to their websites in order to communicate, and videos are an essential element to it. Vimeo users do not need their videos to be seen by millions of users, but for a particular segment of users who will appreciate the quality of the video and their website.

Users that choose YouTube also want viewers to appreciate their videos, but they don’t target any specific segment. The main thing is to maximize the number of visitors. For the users of YouTube, videos are the way to attract visitors, not their websites because they are already well known (Apple), no one visits their website (Warner Bros Pictures) or they have no website.

These differences between Vimeo and YouTube make necessary to assess which video-sharing website we want to use to share our videos on the Internet. However, it is possible that in the future the choice will be easier. In the past year, we have seen convergent movements between Vimeo and YouTube.

On one hand, Vimeo is trying to be more social to increase the number of users (the quality is useless if no one appreciates it). On the other hand, YouTube is trying to be more visually stylish to increase user satisfaction. The boom of videos as substitutes of presentations seems to indicate that the user demands will increase. If YouTube fails to increase the quality it may lose users.

The next few years promise to be exciting.