How to Build Your Vimeo Audience

Vimeo isn’t YouTube. It doesn’t have the millions of users or the high-profile status. What it does have, though, is groups of loyal viewers and creators who tend to post and search for higher-quality content, as well as a plethora of opportunities for these groups to interact and share content with each other. With popular series like High Maintenance finding their footing on Vimeo, the site is becoming a platform for an attentive audience looking to watch well-crafted, original content.


Google “optimizing YouTube videos for search” and you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks for how to prime your content for eyeballs. But knowing how to game Vimeo is a bit trickier. After the video sharing website announced at Sundance that it will be partnering with Indiegogo, it’s become clear that it is the place to be for filmmakers and documentarians. So how can you get the most out of a video-sharing site that’s not YouTube?


Take advantage of the sense of community

Vimeo is less about posting and viewing as many videos as possible and more about cultivating a close-knit community, because fewer people post and therefore users tend to be relatively committed and upload higher-quality videos. Engage with these contributors and build a community by commenting on other people’s videos and responding to their comments, because they’re more likely to respond than your average YouTuber. Also, make sure you use the groups, which are basically mini-communities in which people with similar interests can interact and share. These groups can help you find people who are passionate about your topic and will therefore be more likely to visit your page and watch your videos. You can also make your own group if you can’t find one that fits your subject of interest, or if you just want to draw more attention to your channel by being a group moderator and are willing to compete with other similar groups. However, make sure you don’t just use the group to post your own videos and essentially duplicate your channel; instead, encourage collaboration and discussion on a topic that you’re an expert on, and intermittently post some of your own content. If users join and like the page, they’ll be more likely to check out the account of the person who started it, and you can also add a blurb about your company at the bottom of the group description to draw members to your page. Before you start your own group, though, you may want to contribute to others’ groups so that you can build relationships first and establish yourself as a knowledgeable member. Once you have your connections, you can then invite people to your own new group.


…But make sure to maximize your network

Since the audience is smaller, you’ll have to make sure more people see your video by showing it on multiple channels and promoting it on your other social media platforms. You can also gain prominence by being featured in Categories, but you’ll have to be hand-picked by Vimeo admins, so make sure you choose categories that most directly describe your video so that you’re as easy to find as possible.


Don’t get too fancy with your tags

Keep tags basic and straightforward so that you match ones that many people are using, and make sure they’re relevant. Use them as a kind of categorization tool, not an opportunity to be clever like users often do with Twitter hashtags. If you tag with keywords that are relevant to your content, your video may rank higher in the searches. You can also follow tags, so that you can see what people doing similar things are up to and then comment on those user’s videos so that they’ll be more likely to look at your related video. For example, to follow the tag “food,” go to and click Follow. Videos with that tag will then show up in your feed.


But do get fancy with your thumbnails

Thumbnails matter. Humans tend to respond to images more than text, so whether it’s funny, beautiful, or shocking, make your thumbnail as visually interesting and compelling as possible. If your video has people in it, YouTube also recommends that you use close-ups of faces in your thumbnail in order to attract your audience’s attention. You can choose a thumbnail from anywhere in your video, so don’t be lazy. Scroll through the whole thing and find the perfect shot—we know you got it at some point in your video! You can also Photoshop your image if you want and upload a custom thumbnail to the site, so make sure it’s perfect.


Need an example? Check out this video.



Pique people’s interest

Like with any headline, you want to catch viewers’ attention, so either shock them, make them curious, or let them know that you’re teaching them something new. No matter what, make your headlines specific so that people actually know what your video is about. In addition to your headline, the description is your pitch, according to Vimeo staff member Jason Sondhi. When scrolling through groups, the Discover tab, and other sections of Vimeo that contain lists of videos, users only see the headline and the first few lines of your description before clicking on your video. So make those lines the grabber that really gets to the heart of what your video is about. According to Sondhi, the first sentence should be a summary of the video, and then the following lines can go more in-depth into its content. Don’t include things in those first few lines that aren’t part of the actual description of your film like collaborators or equipment lists, since those details likely won’t grab viewers’ attention. After the description you can include honors or reviews that validate your film, but keep the list brief. You should also put a link to your website in the description.


Overall, the key is to build a community that’s as large as possible, to interact, and to be visually and verbally compelling. We know your videos are worth sharing, so go forth and conquer the video world—beyond YouTube.


oxwxc81y (3)Zoe Epstein is a marketing and communications intern at Green Buzz Agency. She develops and executes social media strategy and reports on industry trends.

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