How to Create Compelling Video Thumbnails

How to Create Compelling Video Thumbnails

A video thumbnail is a small image that appears on video search listings. Along with your video title, it tells the world what your video is about and if it's a video worth watching.

Think of your video thumbnail like a book cover. It's the first thing people see, and people will judge the video based on that image alone. It needs to make an immediate statement. Here are some best practices for video thumbnails.

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Do Your Research

One of the best practices for video thumbnails is to put your detective's hat on and take a look at the competition. What do other content creators in your space use as thumbnails? Which ones catch your attention? Pick three or four examples and compare them side-by-side. Do the thumbnails include text? Does each thumbnail work well with the video title? Checking out the competition can serve as a starting point for creating the ultimate video thumbnail.

Sometimes, you need to get a video out there and don't have time to design a fancy thumbnail. Viostream understands. The platform will create a default thumbnail for your video so you don't have to do any extra work. You can always change or edit this thumbnail later. Learn more about how Viostream handles video thumbnails.

Picture Quality Counts

Pixelated thumbnails won't cut it. Always use a high-quality photo for your thumbnail; it makes your video look more professional. You can either use a screen capture from the video itself or take a new image with your camera. The latter allows for more flexibility and might be better if you want to grab the attention of your audience.

Be Relevant

Perhaps the top video thumbnail best practice is to make sure your thumbnail is relevant to your content. A thumbnail of your cat might attract attention from all the pet-lovers out there, but if it doesn't have anything to do with the content in the video, choose something else. Remember, you might only have a few seconds to entice viewers to your content, especially if they're scrolling through a list of dozens of videos.

Use the Right Colors

Another best practice for video thumbnails is to consider your color palette. Research shows that the highest-converting primary and secondary colors are red, green, orange, and yellow. Red works particularly well because it's associated with urgency. Yellow can also be effective because it's a common color for warning and traffic signs.

Every Word Counts

You won't have much space for text in your thumbnail, so be very selective with what you choose to include. Think of a few words that are descriptive as well as compelling. Text like "3 More Safety Tips" for a video called "Workplace Health and Safety: Part 2" adds context and creates interest that might compel more clicks. You can also choose not to include any text at all and let your thumbnail image speak for itself. This is a best practice for video thumbnails we stand behind.

Select the Correct Font

It's not just what you say, but how you say it. If you include text in your thumbnail, use an appropriate font that's legible and doesn't distract from your main image. Sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Calibri, and Verdana are good options for learning and development videos because they tend to be on the more formal side. Fonts like Traveller and Caribold better suit customer-facing videos such as product demos.  

Sometimes your thumbnail or video might contain content you don't want to share with the public. For example, if you're sharing information about secret sales figures that you only want to share with your marketing team. One best practice for these kinds of video thumbnails is to crop or blur the information so it does not reach an unintended audience. Alternatively, Viostream has an incredible range of access control features, so you can hide videos and images from public listings, sharing them only with the right people at the right time. Other security features include IP-restricted videos, domain white-listing, geoblocking, and Single Sign-On (SSO). Learn more about Viostream's security features here.

Use a Thumbnail Creator App

Image editing apps like Canva, Pixlr, and Adobe Creative Cloud Express let you create compelling thumbnail images in just a few seconds. They all come with pre-built templates that allow you to add a photo, text, graphics, and even emojis to your design. The problem with these apps is that other content creators might use the same templates as you are. Therefore, one final best practice for video thumbnails is to not use templates "out of the box," but tweak them enough to make them unique to you.  

By following these best practices for video thumbnails can attract more people to your videos and promote your content across online platforms. Designing the right thumbnail can increase click-throughs, conversions, engagement and even make your video go viral.

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Evan Parker
Evan Parker
Chief Executive Officer
Evan is the Chief Executive Officer, with over 15 years of leadership experience across technology, management consulting & military service.
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