Do you know what is in a video thumbnail?
There’s an old saying that tells us we should never judge a book by its cover. But at least regarding videos on the Internet, that’s what we do.
Only instead of book covers to go off of, we have video thumbnails–those single images that are made to distill everything about your video. It goes down to an experience that is over in a fraction of a second.
Even the best video thumbnails may sometimes seem like they’re randomly selected. However, the truth is they’re not. They’re often the product of a great deal of thought, care, and (most importantly) a next-level understanding of who you’re trying to reach and how you need to contact them.
So what is in a thumbnail? As it turns out, quite a bit – but making the most out of this small-yet-crucial opportunity that you have to bring your videos to a whole new audience is luckily easier than you think.
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Why Thumbnails Matter
Studies have shown that most people form a first impression of something in literal fractions of a second. Likewise, the human is visual learners–they always have been, they still will be. These two things tell us something significant about video content marketing in particular.
Taken together, they prove that your thumbnails are more critical than nearly every other aspect of your video–at least initially. Even if you have a title that you spent hours on, one that is specifically designed to attract as much attention as possible, people will still give more weight to that thumbnail image. It’s just a fact of life.
A compelling thumbnail will make your video more likely to get clicked on and viewed. Even if someone liked your video after watching it, the thumbnail would play a huge role in his decision to share it with friends ultimately. It helps make your video content go viral.
It needs to be enticing–something that draws people inward towards the experience you want them to have. And it needs to succinctly represent as much of that experience as possible at the same time.
To put it just, the easiest way to kill a great video before it has a chance to shine is with a boring thumbnail. Thankfully, a captivating video thumbnail has the opposite effect. So the next time you sit down with a thumbnail generator like Visme (which I founded), there are a few essential tips that you’ll want to bring with you.
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Crafting Better Thumbnails, One Step at a Time
First, you need to think about your thumbnails in almost a video agnostic way. To that end, give it the same attention you would like any other piece of video content. When you sit down with a timeline creator, you naturally think visually, right?
You’re selecting images (or in this case, facts and figures to express visually) that take complicated ideas and distill them down to their bare essentials. You’re giving people what they need to feel motivated to go on more extensive experience with you, and you’re doing it by giving them a taste of what is to come.
You need to start with the same point of view whenever you select a video thumbnail. It needs to “tease” the video it’s a part of, yes–but it also needs to almost stand on its own to a certain extent.
If someone only saw the thumbnail and then you asked them what they thought the video was about, they should be able to tell you in broad terms. If they can’t, you need to dive back in and find another image.
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Likewise, as is right with any other piece of visual collateral, you need to think both about the message you’re trying to convey and who you’re trying to reach.
More on Crafting Better Thumbnails
If you’re using a service like Respona to connect with influential people in your industry, for example, the chances are high that you’re going to be tapping into an audience that is similar to your own.
But that audience isn’t yours. It is someone else’s, and because of that, there might be differences to what your audience wants.
Therefore, when selecting a thumbnail to represent a video designed for distribution via these types of means, think about the people you’re trying to reach and what video content they’re searching. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a pattern and think about each thumbnail as unique unto itself.
In the end, this is how you make sure you’re always selecting the right image for the right audience at precisely the right time.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.