In the Instagram app, you can choose a frame out of your video to be the thumbnail or “cover” frame, or the frame that the user sees when browsing the grid. But if you want to add a custom frame – that is, a cover with text, visual elements, sticker, or an edited version of one of the video’s frames – you will need to append this frame to the video.

Instagram’s built-in tool does not allow you to append a custom frame

In this blog post, I’ll show you how to set a custom cover on an Instagram video using Kapwing’s studio to create a cover image and merge it with your video clip before publishing.

Note: Use this free Instagram Video Thumbmail Maker to get started right away.

Introduction: What is a cover and why add one?

In the explore feed and on account pages, video thumbnails are displayed to the browser. A custom cover can make your thumbnail more attractive and unique, bringing more viewers to your content. Like YouTube custom covers, you can add text, callouts, and compelling visual elements to the cover image to represent the video and entice more viewers.

Custom covers can also help Instagramers maintain visual consistency in their feed for informal videos. You can add a beautiful image as your videos cover that’s similar to the aesthetic of your other photos, even if the video itself is lower resolution.

To add a custom cover, you can create a 0.1 second scene in front of your video that won’t show when watching but can be selected for a cover. Here’s the step by step tutorial for adding a custom cover to an IG video:

  1. Make custom cover image
  2. Add your video clip
  3. Download and publish to Instagram

Step 1: Make a cover image

Design a frame in Kapwing’s Studio. Upload your image and use the bottom panels to add text, transparent images, and more to your collage.

Click the background size buttons to choose a 1:1 or 4:5 ratio for Instagram. Or, click "Custom Resize" to make your output exactly 1080x1080, the maximum size allowed by Instagram.

Once you've designed the image, you need to append the frame to the front of your video. Click Timeline and make your cover 0.1 seconds so it just flashes. Then, "Add a scene" and upload your video to join the two together.

Remember to make your cover the same aspect ratio as your Instagram post so that that you don’t cut out good content. On Instagram, the best cover frames include a human face and some interest.

Step 2: Add your video clip

Add a new scene in Studio by clicking Add Scene. Upload or paste a URL to your video into the new scene by clicking Upload.

Drag the blue corners on the corners of your video to make it larger or rotate it. You can also crop, mute, trim, add background music, or add collage elements to your video.

Step 3: Download and publish to Instagram

Once your video is finished, click Publish to combine the image and video clip together. The Kapwing Kittens will process your video and return it to you as an MP4.

Here is what the video clip I made looks like:

Download the MP4 and open the Instagram app to publish the video with a custom cover. Instagram automatically selects the first frame of the video as it’s cover, but you can always drag it to the very front to be sure.

That’s all you need to put a custom thumbnail image on your Instagram videos! I hope this helps media companies, influencers, and brands step up their Instagram game to make videos look more polished and attractive in the feed.