Thumbnail - image of a thumbnail with the phrase: "thumb nail it"

Video Production

What are thumbnails and why are they important for your videos?

Learn how to increase your video views with attractive images!

Barbara Santos

11/28/2018 | By Barbara Santos

What will we see in this post

Those who keep up with the latest trends in the online environment know that video content is increasingly gaining more space, making it one of the users’ favorite formats.

Therefore, in order to stand out among so much content in this format, reach your audience and increase engagement, it is essential to invest in video quality.

However, in addition to creating excellent videos, it is necessary to also think about how to attract users to that content and make them click on your videos, and not on one of the many others also available on the internet.

To do so, there are several features that can be used, such as an attractive title, the description, or thumbnail. This last one will be the focus of our post today.

In this text, you’ll find everything you need to know about thumbnails and also several tips for creating attractive images for your audience by using simple tools.

Shall we get started?

What are thumbnails?

Thumbnails are a reduced version of an image, created to make it easier for the user to recognize the content that will be covered in a video.

You have surely come across multiple thumbnails on the internet; you just didn’t know what they were called.

You find this kind of image on virtually every social network, including YouTube, where thumbnails are used as a video cover photo.

Basically, the goal of a thumbnail is to get the attention of users and make them choose your content instead of others that also appear as search results for a particular keyword.

What is the importance of thumbnails?

Those who think that thumbnails are merely a decorative item, which don’t deserve attention and don’t influence the audience’s engagement, are wrong.

Knowing how to create an attractive thumbnail may be what you need to increase your videos’ number of views.

We will show you what makes this small image so important for your strategy.

1. Get users’ attention

Users who go to YouTube to search for a video about “succulent plants”, for example, find thousands of video content on the subject.

Reading the video title and description might even make users interested in your content, but usually one of the first things people notice is the image, or thumbnail.

A thumbnail with an attractive, high-quality image catches the eye and shows users that you truly put some effort into making that video.

This first impression is critical for users to understand that your content adds value and is exactly the solution they were looking for.

Especially in social media, where the focus is on audiovisual content, it’s easy to understand why users pay more attention to an image than to texts, right?

2. Provide context for users about the topic being covered in the video

The use of thumbnails shows users what kind of information you will provide in the content. With it, people identify elements that contextualize the subject and works as a summary of what will be covered.

Let’s get back to the examples of succulent plants.

If your video is about growing them inside an apartment, making that clear in the thumbnail already tells the web user exactly what will be shared.

This ensures that anyone searching for this particular subject can quickly identify your video and see that it corresponds to what they are looking for.

Remember that web users are usually in a hurry and are not willing to spend precious time to determine the content they will consume.

If you make them read your video’s description or they have to start watching it to better understand the content, you can be sure that they will go for another video.

Thus, thumbnails work as a means of conveying all the necessary information right from the start.

3. Establish a visual identity

Thumbnails are also important to establish a visual identity and ensure the audience identifies your videos and recognizes you among all the other content available on YouTube.

With them, you can personalize your channel and give it a unique and special appearance for each playlist or topic you cover.

Using the same pattern for all thumbnails makes your profile better organized and attractive. In addition, you make your videos stand out to users, which makes them assimilate the type of content you share and to become interested in watching your other videos.

Tips for creating a good thumbnail

Now that you’ve seen how good thumbnails can attract even more users, clicks, views, and shares for your videos, we’ll give you a few tips to get you started on customizing your display icons.

Create eye-catching images

If the idea is to stand out among other videos and attract the views of users, it is essential to use an attractive image for your thumbnails.

As to colors, be careful not to use faded tones or those that blend into the colors of the platform where you share your videos.

For example:

If you share your material on YouTube, avoid creating thumbnails with black, white, and red colors, which are used to characterize this social network.

Invest in contrasting colors that will make your video stand out to users on search pages such as green, blue, or yellow, for example. But always remember to maintain the visual identity of your brand, so that people can identify the video as being yours.

Use short texts

When placing text in your thumbnails, use a short word or phrase that summarizes the entire content of that video.

In addition to being reduced, it is important that the text also be striking enough to instigate the audience and arouse interest.

Using long texts can make the image too busy and undermine the understanding of your message.

Ideally, leave the details for the title, description or even for the video itself and use simple thumbnails that are easy to assimilate.

Respect the set sizes and formats

In order for your thumbnails to have quality and not distort or blur the image, it is important to respect the sizes and formats established by YouTube.

The icon resolution should be 1280 x 720 (16:9 aspect ratio), with a minimum width of 640 pixels. The formats can be JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG.

As to the size, thumbnails can have a maximum of 2 MB.

Use topic-related images

Since your goal is to show your audience the topic that will be covered in your video, use images related to your content.

People should be able to quickly understand what the video is about and identify with the subject matter.

Make the purpose of your content clear by using related elements such as succulents, photos of plants, spaces decorated with pots of succulents, tools used in planting, etc.

YouTube will suggest frames you can use as thumbnails, but we suggest you do not do this!

Have you ever heard that famous phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words”?

So invest in customized images, created specifically for that video.

Avoid using clickbait images

Have you ever clicked on a video or text that promises to deliver unique and extraordinary content, and when you go there, you realize that it was nothing like you imagined?

This is what we call clickbait.

Of course, sensationalistic calls that instigate users’ curiosity and attract thousands of clicks seem like wonderful solutions for those who are seeking traffic and increased views.

But if you want to deliver something excellent to your audience and create a good relationship with people, so that they recognize your authority on a certain subject and come back to visit your channel again, clickbait images are not the solution.

By deceiving users, you jeopardize their experience with your brand. This greatly reduces their chances of coming back to consume any of your content.

Thinking in the medium and long term, it’s best to focus on less sensationalistic content, but it must be consistent and truly valuable, right?

Create a visual identity for your thumbnails

We talked earlier about how thumbnails are a good tool for maintaining a channel’s visual identity on YouTube, so make sure you take advantage of them.

Keep a pattern of the images used as thumbnails for your videos and try to use the same colors, format, and style at all times.

By customizing your thumbnails, you ensure that the public can identify you, recognize your profile, and find you on the search pages.

To build a user base and strengthen your relationship with your audience, you need to build your brand. So, nothing better than a visual identity to give a professional and unique look to your videos.

Study your competition

In order to stand out from the other thousands of videos, it is crucial that you research everything about your competition.

Find out what your competitors are sharing, what formats are most used, what feedback they receive from their audience, and what gaps they are leaving in the marketplace.

Try to learn everything about the people or brands that work in the same niche as you. Only then will you be able to create unique strategies that will make you differentiate yourself from the competition and attract more views.

Thumbnail creation tools

You need to pay attention to many details to create quality thumbnails, but relax, it’s easier than it seems.

There are several simple and free tools available to help you create your images.

1. Adobe Photoshop

This tool is one of the best known and most used in the world. With it, you can create multiple edits for your images, both basic and advanced.

Those who are knowledgeable in design can use its various features well and create quite attractive thumbnails.

But if that isn’t your case, don’t worry. You can also obtain great results by only using Photoshop’s basic editing features.

Unlimited use of the tool is paid for, but it is possible to register and use some of its features for free for a predefined period of time.

2. Canva

This service does not require any advanced knowledge in design.

Canva offers several free features, plus a paid image bank with more options, if necessary.

However, in order to create thumbnails, it is more common – and recommended – to use a snapshot from your video or custom photo. Thus, you won’t need to spend money to use this tool’s images.

The interesting thing about this service is that it offers preprogrammed formats, which are already created in the correct sizes for each social media. So you don’t have to worry about this detail, only with the filters, the text fonts you will use and the elements you wish to add to your video thumbnails.

3. PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a paid photo-editing tool, but you can use a free trial version for 7 days.

Several features are made available that can be used to create thumbnails.

Just like with Canva, with PicMonkey you can select a template with the ideal size of thumbnails for YouTube.

There are a few ways to find the right model:

● Search YouTube thumbnail in the search bar;

● Inform the desired sizes in the top corner of the screen;

● Search YouTube in the categories tab;

● Select YouTube thumbnail in the Popular Tags tab.

4. Fotor

Fotor is another free image editor that you can use to create attractive and quality thumbnails.

It’s a simple service, which also requires no design knowledge and can also be accessed in Portuguese.

On the home page, you need to choose whether to create a collage, perform a photo edit or create a design.

When you click Design, simply select the YouTube Thumbnail option to start creating your thumbnails.

By clicking on its tools, Fotor also shows you tips to help you optimize your work.

5. Snappa

With Snappa, you have three versions:

  1. Free: which gives you access to limited templates, 5 downloads a month and a few other features (also with limitations of use);
  2. Pro: with unlimited downloads and templates and a few other unlocked features;
  3. Team: which can be used by up to 5 users, it has several unlimited features and is the tool’s most advanced version.

In the free version, despite its limitations, you can create incredible thumbnails for your YouTube videos.

There are several templates available to choose from, and you can also customize the     format by selecting the YouTube Thumbnail option within the Social Media Posts tab.

You are ready to create incredible thumbnails!

With all this information, we’re sure that you’re ready to create compelling thumbnails, which will generate more clicks and views for your videos.

Of course, depending on the tool you choose to create your thumbnails, you will have a few differences while using the editing program. But in general, the tools for creating thumbnails are intuitive, and you can always go back to our video to watch the step-by-step process for creating your images for videos.

Keep in mind that thumbnails should be aligned with your video’s content. So, focus on sharing interesting topics that add value to your audience and make users aware of your authority on the topics covered.

To inspire you even more, check out the Definitive Guide to Making YouTube Thumbnails That Will Be Clicked.