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Ode to a Goofy Thumbnail

As the Queen of Community here at Wistia, my mornings consist of coffee and scouring the world wide web for valuable content. In that order. Some days, this routine can feel like I'm trapped in a tornado of #marketing #content about #content #marketing, without a belt to save me (Twister reference, anyone? Bueller?). But then you find something that makes you smile before 9 am, and it makes you want to share that thing.

It's no secret we're fans of Moz's Whiteboard Fridays 'round these parts: we even made a Learning Center video about their process! They consistently provide useful information on complex SEO topics in a personable format. Sharing them with our audience is kind of a no-brainer. Recently, though, I started to notice something a little different. See if you can tell what I'm talking about:


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Holy thumbnails, Batman. Clearly, there is an alternate timeline in which Thumbnail Rand, trapped in still image form, is desperately trying to tell us something. What is it, Rand? Are you in danger? Tell us how to help you!

In all seriousness, this kind of expert thumbnail selection deserves some recognition. Elijah Tiegs, you've been making my Friday mornings lately. Bravo.

Eager to learn more, I got some answers from Elijah himself:

"Before a presenter begins their Whiteboard Friday, I take a couple photos of the presenter for thumbnail options. One is a typical photo of them smiling in front of the board, and for the other, I ask them to do something goofy for me. Most people are game to be playful with it, and, as a bonus, it helps loosen them up a little if they're nervous about the presentation. When deciding to use one of those, or a frame from the recording, I decide primarily based on what makes me laugh. I don't even have to prompt Rand to do these anymore, he usually has something prepared that's funnier than anything I'd come up with."
Elijah Tiegs, Visual Communications Wizard, Moz (@thinkyfish)

Elijah started using this method in July, which explains why people have recently begun to take notice of Thumbnail Rand (I’m looking at you, Tom Roberts! Thanks for bringing this to our attention in the comments).

As the Whiteboard Friday example illustrates, using a custom thumbnail can not only make people more interested in your video (we found , but it can seriously delight your loyal following, to boot. Elijah brought up an added benefit that I hadn’t even considered: taking photos before shooting can be a great way to help your subject get loose!

Have I convinced you to get on that custom thumbnail train yet? Check out our documentation for a quick tutorial on how to do this for your own videos.

Now, what do you think Thumbnail Rand is trying to tell us?

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