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YouTube thumbnails & titles 101

With so much content on YouTube, how do you make your videos stand out? No matter how good the content itself is, it doesn’t matter if viewers don’t click on it.

Below are our top tips on best practices for what you should be doing with your YouTube thumbnails & titles.

“Spend 99% of your meta time on Titles and Thumbnails and half a percent on Description…” Todd Beaupre, Head of Discovery YouTube

YouTube Thumbnails

The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to connect with the audience and clearly communicate what the video is about. From there - it’s a matter of fine-tuning the style to showcase your own personality. Our optimisation checklist of things to consider:

  • Looks good small

  • Suits the video

  • Easy to understand

  • Energy & movement

  • Focus attention

  • Product exceptions (if the content is about a product, show them rather than you)

  • Faces: close up, eye contact

  • Emotions (connect with the audience, but don't go overboard)

  • Background & contrast (also considering subject)

  • Text: minimise & right font

  • Branding correctly placed

  • Consistency in style

Some examples we love

Here's our tried and proven YouTube thumbnail framework that you can use on your thumbnails.

YouTube Titles

Effective communication is also the goal with titles, adding on context or intrigue to the visual of your thumbnail. The sooner a viewer can understand what it is the video is offering, the better your chances of them clicking on it (and staying if it delivers on the promise). As tempting as it might be to go for clickbait to get traffic to your videos, building audience trust is going to pay off more in the long run. Our optimisation checklist of things to consider:

  • Enticing (active voice / use a verb / connecting). Make them want to click the video

  • Create an ‘information gap’ or need-to-know

  • Check spelling and don't use ALL caps

  • Accurately describe the video

  • Have keyword in title (45 character for the mobile cut off)

  • Audience specific and topical (identify the audience or element of topic)

  • Compartmentalise & simplify

Some examples we love:

Here's our tried and proven YouTube title framework that you can use on your YouTube videos.

In the end, it’s important to develop a style that feels natural to your own content and what works for you and your audience.

MrBeast's YouTube thumbnails

He's one of the best in the game and this is how MrBeast does his thumbnails - neatly fitting into 7 categories.

Check out the Twitter thread for a breakdown of the different ways he creates YouTube thumbnails.

Remember, don't try and copy MrBeast. You do you!

Once you’ve got your own framework established taking the above into consideration, you’ll be sure to see an increase in your click-through rate.

Join the conversation with the Creator Generation community on discord here.


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