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Thumbnails That Increase Views
12 ways top creators hook your attention.
Your thumbnail is the most important part of your video.
It stops the scroll, builds curiosity, causes them to click, and can even keep them watching if you piqued their curiosity hard enough.
Note: No clicks; no views.
Thumbnails are so important that MrBeast won’t make a video unless he has the perfect title and thumbnail.
This doesn’t just apply to YT videos
The same principles apply to:
Carousels on LinkedIn or Instagram
Reels on Instagram and videos on TikTok
Images attached to blog posts
Images attached to posts on Twitter/X and LinkedIn
Any image (including the first frame of a video) representing a piece of content, whether text or video, must hook people’s attention, or the content will be ignored.
Without further ado:
12 types of thumbnails that hook people
Big numbers are unnatural. Unnatural events trigger curiosity. Particularly when it’s money.
Don’t make it too round, or it’ll feel fake.
Write out the whole number to make it bigger.
Before and After shots build people’s curiosity. They want to know what caused the transformation.
Make the value obvious by showing the before and after state.
Leverage photo editing to make the differences more pronounced.
Dramatic faces attract attention.
People click because they want to see what provoked it.
Your reactions need to seem genuine. Use a still from your footage, not a posed shot.
Draw attention to details within your thumbnail that hint at what happens.
Show just enough to pique their curiosity.
Ask a question
Asking a question in your thumbnail opens a loop that can only be closed by watching.
Use the video title to tease the answer you pose in your thumbnail.
Behind-the-scenes builds affinity—people feel like they’re part of your journey.
Re-frame mundane situations like studying, cleaning, and traveling into “a day in the life.”
Loss aversion is powerful.
We’re motivated twice as much by a fear that we’re doing something wrong than we are motivated to do something right.
The same applies to investing. We feel a 50% loss more than a 100% gain.
Zoom in on a spot on your thumbnail to emphasize the video’s primary focus.
Use a border around the pop-out to make it clear.
Familiarity / Credibility
Leverage the familiarity and credibility of people, brands, products, and characters.
We’re naturally attracted to things we’re familiar with rather than the unknown.
And anyone who’s a fan of that person or thing will be more likely to click.
Side-by-side comparisons attract supporters on both sides—competition = drama.
Draw attention to the most extreme difference: price, size, skill, age, etc.
Shock and awe
Emphasize the most shocking moment of your video.
Include emotional expressions.
We’re attracted to what we find visually appealing and attractive.
Ex: faces, food, art, and landscapes.
Whatever worked yesterday will likely not work tomorrow.
Use these general concepts to come up with new and interesting ideas.
Adapt them to your unique style and brand.
Experiment. Get creative.
Don’t just copy. Innovate.
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