It’s a pretty well known fact that having a good thumbnail image for your online video is a good way to get people to click and watch. However, a new video that I recently came across with over 34 million views proves just how important a good thumbnail image is.
Yesterday I was on a YouTube Suggestions spree when I saw a thumbnail that really caught my eye – two guys without legs, connected at the waist. The video was called ‘Upper Body & Lower Body Separation’, and I clicked expecting some kind of weird documentary about Siamese twins being separated or lord knows what! Instead I was greeted with a rather dull video of a personal trainer standing in a gym and telling me that I should split my workout routine up and do a leg workout day, a push workout day and a pull workout day, whatever that means.
When I saw the thumbnail image (which doesn’t appear in the video at all, by the way), saw the video, and saw that it had been viewed over 34.3 million times there was no doubt in my mind that the creators, StandFirm owe the success of their video to their thumbnail image.
In fact, the creator isn’t too shy to admit that the thumbnail is a damn good one. In the video description he writes, “Thanks to Tyler Bushnell for allowing me give you some “exposure” on YouTube with your “Vanderhoffe and Otis Spinal Connection” image. I hope people contact you for your Photoshop Expertise.” I’d say that rather than acting like Tyler should thank him for all the YouTube exposure he should be thanking Tyler for the millions of views he got as a result of using his image!
Of course, there are some moral questions that come into play when you use a thumbnail image that is totally misleading and has nothing to do with your video (though I’m sure StandFirm could give some round-about excuse as to why this image is perfect for his video), this example still proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that your video can really take off if you have the right image. That being said, try to use an image that has something to do with your video, unless you want to get a lot of not-so-nice comments from viewers that were hoping for some sort of weird Siamese twin separation video, or something else totally unrelated to exercise.
I guess one could point out that with over 34 million views there would have to be at least a couple thousand people who ended up watching the video and were actually interested in what the guy had to say, but I still don’t think it’s right.
It is important to note that only YouTube partners can upload custom thumbnails. That being said, if you aren’t a partner then you will be given a selection of frames from your video to choose from so be sure to choose the best one for your thumbnail. In other video sites, like Vimeo, where you have the option to upload a customized thumbnail image, try to come up with something creative. After all, the thumbnail is the first thing viewers see before they decide whether they want to click on your video or move on to the next one.