What I Found Reviewing Hundreds Of Youtube Thumbnails
As a marketer, I want to figure out what makes people behave the way they do. Thus, what will get them to take action. This has made me break down the process of others who are more successful. While marketing stays within the rules of human psychology, we are always adapting to our environment. And if you are bombarded with ads every day, eventually, different things will catch your attention.
I spend some time on all social media platforms every day, consuming. I thought I could be more productive about it. So it would be great to replicate some of the things others do on these platforms. For some time I’ve mostly been critiquing the content I was producing on my own. And while feedback would come from my immediate circle and the analytics provided, it wasn’t enough. That’s when the epiphany hit me. Why don’t I look at what other people are doing? So I’ve looked at some of the most viral thumbnails of other content creators and there is a science to creating them. Here is what I found.
Brighten your images
I mean really crank it up. This is a fine balance. You want to edit your pictures to the edge of not making them look blown out. I have looked at all my previous thumbnails and it was very clear. I thought I only had to make a surprised face look and everything else would take care of itself. I was not thinking.
Because the pattern that I noticed across all my videos is that the brightness was way too low. This is especially important for the subject you will cover in your video. Don’t worry if your pictures look too bright. You can of course experiment. But I see that videos get more click-throughs when they are brighter.
Have a picture of your face on the side
This one is tricky. I found that depending on where your viewership lies, it also determines where you’re posing. United States viewers like faces on the right side of the thumbnail. Whereas European viewers like their faces on the left or in the middle. Not sure whether that’s because we read from left to right. Or whether it is about showcasing your brand first.
Regardless, I am starting to create my thumbnails with my face being on the right side and also not too much of it. Have the picture cut off at your temple to not see your ear. People need to see the emotion that’s coming from your face rather than your entire face. This way you won’t end up wasting any space on your thumbnail.
Don’t put any text in your picture
This is not an absolute rule. Just like the others above. But refrain from writing any text in your thumbnails. People can read the title of a video for that. The job of the picture is to inspire enough curiosity for people to read the title and/or click on it.
So if you need text as a visual aid to what you’re doing, you’re fine. Even then I would be cautious about how many words you’re using. I am currently experimenting with having 3 words at the most.
Put the main subject of your video across the entire image
You want to convey the topic of your video in one image. If you have design skills, this will be their time to shine. You may need to cut, splice or composite the entire thing. The idea will shine through the image this way.
And always remember to make it brighter than you would your normal pictures. This can give it that extra bit of pop you’re looking for. The image size people will see on their screen is only going to be about 250x125 anyway. So this is a great way to subtly stand out.
While these may seem like simple changes to make, I haven’t tested this yet myself. I plan on doing so soon as I’m looking to start creating content for Youtube. That way I will be able to come back to share my findings and see if these tips would work. Or if I was absolutely off. Hope this helped or it gave a different perspective on thumbnails. I have been geeking out over this stuff for the better part of the last three weeks and it’s getting me excited to try it out. Let me know if you’d like me to break other marketing concepts like this down.