How to Set a Custom Thumbnail Image in Vimeo (& thumbnail best practice)

You’ve got to make them want to click play. No matter how amazing and helpful your video is, if people don’t press play, your great content (and hard work) have gone to waste. Choosing a thumbnail is an important first step.

Today’s tutorial will give you some tips for selecting an effective video thumbnail and, using Vimeo, show you how to choose your own frame for the thumbnail, choose from a random selection, or upload your own image.

You’ve got to make them want to click play. No matter how amazing and helpful your video is, if people don’t press play, your great content (and hard work) have gone to waste. Choosing a thumbnail is an important first step. Today’s tutorial will give you some tips for selecting an effective video thumbnail and, using Vimeo, show you how to choose your own frame for the thumbnail, choose from a random selection provided by Vimeo, or upload your own image.  itsorganised.com | small business training videos


CHOOSING THE BEST VIDEO THUMBNAIL

Video thumbnails, a bit like book covers, don’t seem like the most important thing. Surely, it’s the content that matters? Well yes, it is. But the thing with book covers is, they make people pick the book up off the shelf. Only then can they can start to explore the content. Without that initial impulse, the book stays on the shelf. 

Your thumbnail does the same job. You have to get your viewer interested enough to press play, using a tiny thumbnail image which is probably sitting alongside many other competing thumbnails.

 

WHAT DOES A GOOD THUMBNAIL LOOK LIKE? 

HINT AT THE CONTENT

The image should represents or be a teaser for the content waiting within. Don’t tempt people in with images that bear no relation to the video itself, just to get a click. This is tantamount to click bait, and not the way to build a respected brand or repeat visits.

Pinch of Yum’s videos are a good example of this. A shot of the final meal looks great and makes it clear what the video is about. And, it's most definitely clickable! 


PEOPLE LOVE FACES

Whether this is a frame from the video or an image you’ve designed specifically for the thumbnail, faces attract clicks.  If, like me, you don’t appear on your videos, you can use a still shot. 

TEDx Talks use a frame from the video for each speaker as their thumbnail. They are usually animated, active shots, which makes them particularly appealing.

 

Pat Flynn uses a still shot with a branded overlay. This would be easy to set up as a Photoshop template. Just vary the image and change the text each time. It's clearly him, branded and the text makes the content obvious.

 

REMEMBER YOUR BRANDING

It doesn’t have to overwhelm the thumbnail, but it needs to be recognisably yours.

The BBC does this well. It simply adds its logo to the corner of each thumbnail. The logo is clear and sits on any background, as they’ve used a solid red square behind it. They keep this consistent on their other channels too, just changing the colour of the logo for each one. You can’t always tell what the story is about just from the image, but you know it’s theirs.

 

For bold, clear branding, look at Mariah Coz of Femtrepreneur. Faces, branding and instantly recognisable.


DOES TEXT MATTER?

Although an image has a greater impact, text can be a perfect way to tell viewers what’s to come.

Marie Forleo is a good example of this. She’s featured in all her videos and has lovely still shots of her plus her guests on the thumbnails. This doesn’t, however, always explain what the video is about. To get around this, her videos include a text overlay of the video title. Her face and branding do the hard work, and the text adds clarity.

 

WHAT STYLE SUITS YOUR BUSINESS?

What makes you click on a thumbnail? Look at examples from your own sector to see if there's a common style that’s working. 

You don’t need to incorporate all of the above suggestions. Things to try:

  • If you appear in your own videos, use the power of faces to your advantage. Select a frame from the video and add text, if the content needs clarification.
  • If you're not in the video yourself, use a strongly branded image overlay. You can use a random shot from the video or a relevant still image.
  • Do you make videos about something beautiful or tasty? Then a still shot plus contrasting text would be the way to go.
  • Does something amazing/surprising/eye-catching happen in your video? Then that’s the frame to use, with a little branding in the corner or some text, if needed.

As with anything you try, it’s important to monitor it’s effectiveness. If you're not getting clicks, but you’re promoting your videos well, why not try a different style thumbnail?

 

TRY SOMETHING, REVIEW AND TRY AGAIN

My thumbnails to date have been branded but are pretty nondescript. I designed them originally because they were clear and easy to read at a small size. The videos I make are screen-capture how-tos. They don’t usually make for exciting still shots! 

I’m going to try a Pat Flynn-style thumbnail using a frame from the video plus a bright, branded overlay and text (see today’s video below). The nice thing about Vimeo is, I can go back and change the thumbnails of my older videos and, as they are embedded on my blog, the thumbnails will automatically update to the new style. 

Remember, the thumbnail or splash screen is that book cover. You’ve got to give people a reason to press play. 

 


VIDEO TUTORIAL

This video will show you how to:

  • choose your own frame for your video thumbnail;
  • choose from a random selection provided by Vimeo; and
  • upload your own image.

 


THE STEP BY STEP

FINDING THE THUMBNAIL SETTINGS

  1. Start by logging in to your Vimeo account and finding the upload you want to use. 
  2. Click on the Cog icon to go to the Settings for that video. 
  3. This will take you to the Basic tab first. 
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the Basic tab to find the Thumbnail settings.


CHOOSING YOUR OWN FRAME FROM YOUR VIDEO

  1. Click on Choose.
  2. Vimeo will start to play your video.
  3. When you see the frame you want to use, click Use this frame.
  4. Processing’ will appear on the left.
  5. You will be returned to the Basic tab and the thumbnail will have changed.
  6. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.
  7. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to.
  8. If you know the frame you want, you can drag the play button across to that point to save time.


CHOOSING FROM A RANDOM SELECTION

  1. Click on Random.
  2. Vimeo will give you a selection of 8 random thumbnails to choose from.
  3. Click on the one you want to use.
  4. If you don’t like the selection, just click on See more options on the left.
  5. Click Use this thumbnail.
  6. Processing’ will appear on the left.
  7. You will be returned to the Basic tab and the thumbnail will have changed.
  8. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.


UPLOADING YOUR OWN IMAGE

  1. Click on Upload.
  2. Navigate to the thumbnail image you want to use.
  3. Click Choose.
  4. Vimeo will upload the image.
  5. Once the upload is complete, the thumbnail will have changed.
  6. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.


GIVE IT A TRY

I hope you’ve seen the importance of the thumbnail image. Why not do some research into what others are using in your sector? See what's working, and what catches your eye and makes you want to click. 

Try creating a branded, reusable template for your thumbnail images. This helps you keep things on brand, consistent and quick to make.