Thumbnails are known as the book covers for any online video. It is the first visual anyone viewing the video sees and plays an integral role in making sure whether your video will be a success or not. Thumbnails have the ability to give the viewer a first good or bad impression. Thumbnails also allow viewers to have control over what they want to see as it is an interesting summarisation of what the video may hold.

Thumbnails are relevant for any platform, from YouTube, to Facebook to Instagram.

So what makes a good thumbnail?

A thumbnail with a picture and text has a far better chance of being clicked on rather than any shot that has been chosen by the social media platform for you. There is a little bit of science behind which thumbnails work. Let’s look at some examples.

Take a look at this thumbnail

It just shows a sportsman but doesn’t give enough context as to what the video might include. You may or may not click it. The video will always be restricted to a niche audience and not someone who isn’t interested in the sport.

Instead, have a look at this thumbnail

Adding text with a png of the sportsman and an insight as to what the video will talk about automatically increases the chances of people clicking on your video, even if it’s a news story. Another thing that has worked in this thumbnail is where Ronaldo is pointing, making it almost impossible for the viewer to ignore the text.

You can use free apps  like Spark Post or Canva to make thumbnails. Both of these apps give you a good control of the layout. But when it comes to text in particular, Spark Post has an edge over Canva. But Spark Post is only available in iOS.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while making a thumbnail:

  1. Try to use a PNG image of the personality you’ve mentioned in the video. It will help you space out the text on the thumbnail.
  2. Text shouldn’t be more than 4-5 words. Don’t bore your audience with too many words.
  3. Try not to add too many elements in the thumbnail so you don’t distract people away from the topic of the video.
  4. Try to hint at a controversy or a keyword that might be emotive so it makes people want to click on the video.

Apps you can use to make thumbnails:

  • Canva
  • Spark Post
  • Photoshop