4 Reasons Your Training Videos Don’t Belong on YouTube—And What You Should Do Instead

Take a critical look at where and how you store your training videos, and then make an objective decision about where they should be stored. If you wouldn’t trust YouTube with your personal credit card, you shouldn’t trust it with your company’s privileged information either.

Here’s a question for you: What kinds of sensitive, personal information about yourself would you be willing to include in a video you planned to share via YouTube? 

Almost certainly, you wouldn’t trust YouTube with a video that held your credit card information, medical history, or any number of other pieces of personal data. 

So why do so many people trust YouTube with their business’ private information? Be it compliance training, product training, new hire onboarding, internal announcements, social learning expertise, or any of a truly surprising number of other examples, many businesses trust some of their most privileged information to YouTube. 

Relying on YouTube, however, comes with steep tradeoffs. To make the best choice for your organization’s video library, let’s look into what those tradeoffs are, and the pros and cons of your best alternatives.

The Tradeoffs: Why Not Share Training Videos on YouTube?

1. “Private” isn’t private enough: While YouTube does enable you to make your videos non-public, for most businesses, those options aren’t perfect. Setting your videos as “private,” for example, locks down access, but videos marked “private” can only be shared with up to 50 people. 

If your headcount is higher than 50, your only other option is to make your video “unlisted.” However, there’s nothing preventing “unlisted” videos from being re-shared publicly—there are even re-sharing sites such as UnlistedVideos.com that will find your should-have-been-privaterecordings particularly interesting.

2. “Search” doesn’t find much: For a company owned by Google, YouTube’s video search is surprisingly old school. It doesn’t search the actual content of the videos, the words spoken or shown on screen. It only looks at the tags, titles, and other basic information about the video that’s manually entered when the file is uploaded. 

Trouble is, in a 45-minute presentation, somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words will be spoken that may be of value to an employee searching for information. Tagging those thousand terms would take hours, and even when done well, still only helps a viewer find the beginning of the video. From there, your employee is left to click randomly through the timeline to find the relevant moment he or she needs. That’s a terrible experience, and will mean that fewer employees will look to your videos as on-demand sources of information.

3. The analytics aren’t specific enough: YouTube only provides analytics reports in aggregate, not for individual viewers. Want to know whether Sam in accounting watched the latest compliance video in full or stopped short? Or to add a quiz to see if he understood your content? YouTube can’t help.

What’s more, if you ever need to make an edit to a video already hosted on YouTube, you’ll lose all viewing stats associated with it. So it’s fair to ask: How many training videos have you produced that never needed an update?

4. You get what you pay for: YouTube is a free tool built for consumers. That leaves three challenges for businesses:

First, YouTube’s terms of service aren’t on your side. When you upload a video to YouTube, the terms state you “grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable, and transferable license to” your content. That’s a significant right to sign away. 

Second, YouTube’s administration tools are rudimentary at best. For example, there’s limited granularity with access rights. That means anyone who has login rights has near-total authority over your channel. They can upload, move, and even delete videos without leaving any record or needing approval. 

Finally, YouTube has no customer support. If you have problems or questions, your only option is to post in a support forum (or, ironically, Google it).

Beyond YouTube: Video Tools and Platforms Made for Business

With so many issues in sharing training videos on YouTube, is there a better option? The good news is there are many. Let’s look into the pros and cons of the top three: 

Your learning management system (LMS): Your LMS is likely already the center of your learning ecosystem. Given how much business video is connected to L&D initiatives, that’s helpful. Likewise, these tools support secure login for privacy, and can provide user-level data on who watched what. 

While most LMSs do accept video files, no LMS was built to handle video. File size restrictions mean you typically can’t upload recordings longer than about 10 to 20 minutes. Like YouTube, search is limited to metadata. And no LMS supports Netflix-like streaming, meaning your viewers likely will experience slow startup times and significant buffering. 

Your content management system (CMS): Like your LMS, your CMS is where your people expect to find information. And if you’re following standard practices, you already require viewers to log in for privacy. 

Just as with your LMS, no CMS is built to handle video. Here you’ll find the same file-size restrictions, limited search capabilities, and poor support for streaming. Worse, many CMS tools don’t provide user activity reports, so you won’t know who watched what. 

Video content management system (video CMS): A video CMS is designed specifically for video. It will accept virtually every file size and type, and most support single sign-on for security and SCORM-compliant analytics. A video CMS also offers inside-video search capabilities, with some able to index any word spoken and shown on screen in any video. 

A video CMS won’t replace an existing CMS or LMS, but rather integrates with those systems to make it easier to bring video to your people. Expect to start at about $3 per user per month for smaller implementations, dropping down below $1 per user per month for larger user bases. 

Now It’s Homework Time

It’s up to you to find a better option. I hope you’ll take a critical look at where and how you store your training videos, and then make an objective decision about where they shouldbe stored. If you wouldn’t trust YouTube with your personal credit card, you shouldn’t trust it with your company’s privileged information either. 

Steve Rozillis heads Customer Evangelism at Panopto, helping L&D professionals to convert general interest in video into concrete, practical applications for video-enabled training, communication, social learning, and knowledge management programs. Prior to Panopto, Rozillis worked at Safeco Insurance, a division of Liberty Mutual. He studied Communications at the University of Michigan and Duquesne University. A father of two elementary schoolers, his hobbies today include building a lot of sandcastles. For more information, visit: www.panopto.com

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