If you have been watching series or movies many times, you must have been influenced to watch it just because the thumbnail of that video was exciting and irresistible.

And also, you might have skipped the video content if you didn't find the thumbnail attractive enough. A survey showed that most viewers rely on YouTube video thumbnails to choose whether to watch or ignore a video

So, video thumbnails are an important part of Video Editing. After all, you can say a thumbnail can speak volumes about the whole content and the effort you have put into that. A good thumbnail is a powerful tool to attract viewers. 

The right thumbnail works like sugar to the ants, generating curiosity in the audience and prompting them to click on your awesome video content. 

So, if you are troubling traffic and views on your video content, you've come to the right place to learn about video thumbnails and attract more to your content.

This blog will explain everything you need about thumbnails, starting with the basics. After you have read this blog, you will understand what a thumbnail is, why you should use video thumbnails, what makes a good thumbnail, and a clear idea of specific thumbnail guidelines you should follow on social media. 

What is a video thumbnail?

Thumbnails are reduced-size versions of pictures or videos used to help recognize and organize them, serving the same role for images as a standard text index for words. Once you click a thumbnail, you can access the video at its standard size. 

The purpose of video thumbnails is to explain the whole video before you click on it. It is a quick way to find useful content on the search engine. 

You can make video thumbnails using a video editing software or video editing app

Why use video thumbnails?

From the above said, you must have figured out that thumbnails play a crucial role. Let's quickly take a look at some other reasons you should leverage video thumbnails:

1. Thumbnails help you to capture the new viewer's attention

Video thumbnails give a professional look to your videos. People tend to skip content that doesn't appear satisfying and get naturally attracted when you add to curiosity about what will happen in the video. 

If you fail to add a thumbnail, the video host will show the audience any still shots and portray them on the thumbnail. Surely, you wouldn't want that!

So video thumbnails, when customized, can get your audience's attention, and you get more viewers. It is as simple as that!

2. It provides a user-friendly experience

It helps the viewers to get an idea of the whole content or acts like a summary. This helps the audience understand what they want and sometimes even generates curiosity. 

3. Smaller in size

Thumbnails are smaller, so they do not take much loading time. Since the thumbnails are short and convey an overview, it benefit you in size, and your viewers do not have to wait long for it to load. People tend to leave when they find content that takes a long time to load. 

Guidelines regarding video thumbnails

Social media platforms vary in purpose. And so every social media platform has different guidelines regarding video thumbnails. So, let's explore what details you should remember while creating thumbnails for your social media accounts. 

1. YouTube thumbnail size

The first thing you should remember for YouTube thumbnails is to make a thumbnail that looks appealing on small devices. Always use a high-resolution image that doesn't pixelate while using on large screens.

  • Youtube thumbnail Dimensions: 1280*720 px (Minimum width of 640px)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 (landscape)
  • File format: .jpg/.gif/.png
  • Maximum file size: 2 MB

2. Facebook thumbnail size

Your Facebook thumbnail should also have a high resolution of 1280*720px or a minimum width of 600 pixels. You can also have a square ratio of 1:1 for your Facebook thumbnail. 

But you should always keep the size of your thumbnail according to the video. This is so because the difference will lead to black lines on the edges. 

Aspect ratio which you can choose for your Facebook thumbnail:

  • Windows: CTRL + T
  • MacOS: CMD + T
  • Landscape (16:9): Ideal for TV and desktop users
  • Square (1:1): For the mobile phone users

3. Instagram thumbnail size

Instagram thumbnails appear on the IGTV app's interface and appear in different locations, each demanding a different aspect ratio and size. 

Instagram recommends a thumbnail size of 420*654 pixels and an aspect ratio 1:1.55. The thumbnail shifts to a vertical aspect ratio of 4:5 when shown on the feed.

So, after considering all the points for the Instagram thumbnail, keep your main content in the center, leaving all the borders blank. And one last thing, you cannot change your thumbnail once you have uploaded it.  

  • File format: .jpg/.png
  • Maximum file size: 4 MB

4. X (formerly Twitter) thumbnail size

The thumbnail size should always match the video size, as Twitter claims that a different size thumbnail can affect video playback.

  • Twitter thumbnail Dimensions: 1280*720 px or 1200*1200 px
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 or 1:1
  • File format: .jpg/.png
  • Maximum file size: 5 MB

Video thumbnail best practices

Here are a few video thumbnail best practices that can be very useful:

1. Simple and Arranged

Use a simple, clear, and understandable image. To arrange your content effectively, use the rule of thirds. Try to place the most significant information between the lines or where the lines intersect.

2. Adding faces

Facial expressions hint at the feelings that your video may elicit. Take still photos while filming to ensure you have great facial images for your thumbnail. However, limit yourself to only one or two faces or subjects.

3. Contrasting colors

To make your thumbnail stand out, use bright, contrasting colours. If your video doesn't have bright backgrounds or subjects, you can use image-editing software to change the thumbnail's background colour.

4. Animated thumbnails

An animated thumbnail is a fun, eye-catching way to spruce up your video and maybe give a glimpse of the action to come. If you're going to use animation to express your message, keep it under 5 seconds long and include alt text if possible.

5. High-resolution

Thumbnails are often small images. If your video is embedded on a website that can be seen on a large display, your thumbnail will appear full-size. Don't let your thumbnail get lost in the shuffle because it appears fuzzy or pixelated at a larger size.

All set to create and use the best thumbnails?

After reading this blog, I hope you have understood what a video thumbnail is, its importance, and how you can use it. In a world that uses videos on the web daily, the role of video thumbnails is crucial. 

On any social media or video hosting platform, thumbnails add to the user experience and draw an audience. A video with a good thumbnail is likelier to be clicked than one without a thumbnail. 

If you want to know more or need assistance in video production or making explainer videos, feel free to contact us

                                                                                                                               Editor: Amrutha

Frequently Asked Questions

You can create your own thumbnails using graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, Canva, or even basic image editors like Microsoft Paint. Start by selecting an appealing frame or image from your video, add text or graphics as needed, and then save the image in the desired thumbnail size.

Online tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, or thumbnail maker websites allow you to create video thumbnails easily. They provide templates, graphics, and text options for customization. Simply upload an image or screenshot, edit it to your liking, and download the thumbnail.

A thumbnail of a video is a small, representative image that serves as a preview or visual summary of the video's content. Thumbnails are used to help viewers quickly understand what the video is about and entice them to click and watch.

To add a thumbnail to an MP4 video, you'll typically do this during the video uploading process to platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. These platforms allow you to select or upload a custom image as your video's thumbnail. Simply follow the platform's instructions to choose or upload the thumbnail image you want to use for your video.