Vimeo: Lessons in customer care and community

In my post I shared my negative experiences with Vimeo. In this video I look at the lessons we can all learn about handling customers and engaging with communities.

I believe in learning from every experience whether positive or negative. I therefore thought it only appropriate to ask myself what I (and by extension every other website owner) can learn from the mistakes of Vimeo.

And of course I simply had to share my thoughts in a ‘non commercial’ video format ;-)

You can read my original Vimeo post here.

Alternatives to Vimeo

Several people have asked me where they can move their videos to avoid Vimeo’s draconian and erratic policies.

If you video is truly ‘non-commerical’ and your concern is not Vimeo’s commercial policy but its limitations on where your video can be displayed then I would recommend Viddler.

However, if like me some of your videos do have commercial content then I would recommend Vzaar which is essentially Vimeo for business. That is where I have moved and have so far been impressed.


  • I completely agree with you in regards to their mistakes, especially with the consistency of their policy and actions. I’m a paid user of Vimeo myself and don’t believe my videos are in breach of Vimeo’s. However, I should never need to be unsure whether I’m in the rules or not, it should be plain as day whether my video is allowed. I cannot use a service where I’m in constant fear of my content being removed because of an interpretation of some vague rules, this is why I’m highly considering moving my content to another provider and cancelling my Vimeo account.

    I hope Vimeo learn something from all this.

  • Stephen Dew

    I used to think Vimeo were cool, however I’m now going to look elsewhere when hosting video.

    I agree Paul that this little incident should raise questions for vimeo on how they manage and police their community. However it also brings up the issue that Users don’t read T&C’s! They are simply too long winded and we’d rather trust the website than read through them.

    No matter how much Marcus slags of “top 10” lists, it is a very good way of conveying information easily and effectively. I think we should move to a ‘simple to read’ list of basic T&Cs which users can skim through during sign up, this will then clear up any unusual rules which the website might hold.

    However, the most heinous of Vimeo’s crimes is that they didn’t get any money out of Paul! What they should look at doing is creating a ‘commercial paid-for account’ in which commercial content can be placed. Instead what they have done is taken away a possible revenue source, and pushed the customer over to the competition.

    I know Paul has paid for the “plus” account but perhaps there needs to be a larger separation between the account used for “Dave’s bad personal video blog” and “Headscape’s Product Demo”. More customisation, more flexibility and ultimately more monies for Vimeo.

  • Jon

    What’s so hard about running video for yourself? Its much cheaper than a commercial provider and you have far more control over what you can put up.

    1. Convert your videos using something free like Handbrake.
    2. Put them up on to an Amazon s3 account using something like S3Fox or S3Hub (Mac).
    3. Use the brilliant JWPlayer to play it back. This can give you a pseudo streaming action and plays back a myriad of formats, and you can set your own advertising.

    With a little tweaking to S3, you can use Amazon’s Cloudfront to give you better performance through a CDN. Or there are plenty of other CDNs you can use, like BitGravity.

    Its SO much cheaper doing it this way, you have more control over what you can put up. Of course you have to trust that Amazon or your CDN won’t change their terms. But as their commercially focussed there shouldn’t be any major problem.

  • Add another person to the “I thought Vimeo was cool, but I’ll use someone else now,” column. Was going to start doing some screencasts, but I’m sure I’d run into the same “commercial” content problem that Paul did. Wwill check out Vzaar now – thanks for the recommendation.

  • Gonzalo González Mora

    What I still don’t understand is their policy of not allowing embedding on sites with ads. What do they do if that happens? Do they take down your videos? Because that’s something you can’t control, and taking down the videos would be a stupid move by them. A (unscrupulous) person could embed your non-commercial videos on a site with ads just to get them down if that’s their policy.

    Anyway, thanks for this post (and the previous one), I’ll have to get into the habit of reading the ToS of the sites before using them (which should be the default behaviour, but we know that a tiny amount of people actually do that).

    • They block any domain with ads. For example they have blocked boagworld so any vimeo video will not play on boagworld.

  • Ben

    Fantastic post Paul.

    I really hope Vimeo watches this, all the points you mention are a huge concern to active Vimeo community members like myself, and I’m getting a bit sick of them sticking their head in the sand.

    This whole debacle has left them looking pretty stupid and has definitely delayed my plans to pay for a Plus account.

    As for them blocking domains with ads from embedding, I just tweeted this:
    So now @vimeo is blocking any domain that has ads and embeds their videos. So… every blog in the universe? Smart move @VimeoStaff

    I really hope this is just a case of too much eggnog at the Vimeo office party.

  • Paul, Your absolutely right in every respect. I actually have a few friends who use their accounts for arguably commercial use, they produce videos and show short demo reels and trailers with Vimeo and we always thought as you did since it had no ads or anything of the sort in the video it would be ok.

    In any case I hope they learn from their treatment of users unfortunately it seems more and more that providers want to be more restrictive with rules and less user focused.

  • Jackson

    After reading Vimeo’s T&C, I moved my commercial videos to YouTube. Then, after seeng so many commercial ses of Vimeo in the wild (often to introduce web apps, etc.) I figured may they meant “no blatantly commercial content that we don’t like, as in, you know, infomercials and such…”. I was tempted to move m videos back to my Plus Vimeo account, but now I won’t.

    They really must get their stuff together over there at College Humor, I mean, Vimeo. I really want to like them.

  • Have a lot of people had a problem with this?
    I was ready to upload a few short videos with Vimeo, but are now having second thoughts.
    Could they be using this to gain more publicity? Any publicity is good publicity, right?

    Hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year…

  • I’ve just paid for a Plus account with them before reading this. I’ve now asked them to clarify that my test videos will be in breach of their T’s & C’s and then to refund me my yearly subscription payment.
    Of course I should have read those T’s & C’s before hand (like we all do).
    I sent an email to them about 3 or 4 days ago.
    Perhaps they’re mulling over whether to change their policy?
    How long did it take for them to respond to you?

  • Right on – Vimeo don’t allow commercial content (although they’re a bit inconsistent with applying the rules!) and YouTube do – BUT, critically, Google’s “video overlay” ads do appear on YouTube. A great alternative to both (albeit paid) is us at – we’re really great and pay-as-you-use. If you’ve got business video, worth a look. -Team Buto.

  • IRA

    great post regarding vimeo

    you’ve hit the nail on its head, there are too many rules + too much politically correct jargon at vimeo
    PLUS the general feel of the site is like a pep rally for “the brave new digital world”
    there’s very little real communication between individuals .. just a lot of self-congratulatory remarks going back and forth

    i found your site, Mr. Boag as i was google searching, “How does vimeo make money?”
    they have few ads on the site, and tho they have paying PLUS accounts, i doubt that’s enough to make profits
    i’m presuming that IAC is financially backing their losses so as to make lots of $$ in the future, but i’m too dumb about business to figure out how all this stuff works

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