In the web video world, a thumbnail is the image that you click on to play a video, like the ones you see on YouTube. You probably have never thought about that image, but if you are making videos, it’s time to start.

Whenever a video is posted onto any site on the web, that site will generate a thumbnail automatically by pulling a random frame from your video. The problem is that inevitably, it’s an awkward image. Mouth open, eyes half closed, butt in the air, like these actual thumbnails:

              

Now, YouTube gives you three choices of thumbnails, and you select the one you want. But all three can be crappy. And some sites give you no choice. So the answer is to create your own thumbnail and upload it to the site where your video is, like these:

            

Why is this even important? Seems kinda nit-picky. Well, the truth is, a random thumbnail shows a lack of polish.  While it’s fine for your goofy videos of the dog, in business you need to control the image and make it professional.

I know what you’re thinking: “Good God, yet another detail to handle in the overwhelming world of marketing!” Well, here are the quick steps you need to take to look professional, wherever your video may lay.

  1. Ask your videographer to pull an attractive still frame from your video.
  2. When you give your videos to your web person, give them the still frame to use as your thumbnail. (also known as a “cover photo”.)
  3. Go one step further by designing your OWN thumbnail, using a video still or a professional headshot, and adding graphics or text.
  4. Canva.com is a great online design program that is very easy to use. They even have a pre-set size for YouTube Thumbnail, and they make it easy to add text, graphics and photos.

Once you get the hang of creating your own thumbnails, you can get super fancy and they can become a marketing tool on their own. (think: click bait)  I hope this helps!