IGTV is an exciting platform for longer video content on social media, allowing users to upload any video content between 1 and 15 minutes long directly to new, highly interested audiences. It's a great way to show more robust video content to a large social base, and can reach millions of users who wouldn't be able see your content in their timeline.
Instagram recommends the dimensions 1240 x 1920 for the IGTV thumbnail. To design a custom image with the correct size, use this free IGTV thumbnail template to design, resize, and download the JPEG for Instagram.
But first impressions matter, and IGTV only provides actual video previews for the very top post in users' feeds. For all other videos, both on the IGTV Explore page and in the "up next" reel, a thumbnail is all users can see before watching. So unless your videos occupy that #1 spot, you should make sure you've optimized your thumbnail image to draw viewers' eyes. The technical constraints of IGTV thumbnails can make it hard to show off your posts effectively, and both IGTV's editing options and your phone's built-in apps don't give you all the flexibility you need to create a great thumbnail image.
What does a good IGTV thumbnail look like?
Your IGTV thumbnail is dedicated to one thing: getting your audience to watch your content. Instagram has already done the work of delivering your video to people who will most likely be interested in its content & themes, so it's important that your thumbnail is clear in showing what your video is about. The more your thumbnail reflects your video's themes and content, the better it will align with the interests of your audience. It's best to use a shot from your video for your thumbnail image – nearly every popular IGTV video uses a screenshot of the video in its thumbnail. If your screenshot is especially interesting, or shows the most exciting part of the video, viewers might want to stick around just to discover more about the thumbnail itself (like the prank video at the bottom right)!
Text is a valuable asset that many IGTV creators don't use very well in their thumbnails – even Gary Vee's video above has some text obscured by the title. While IGTV shows your video's title at the bottom of the thumbnail image, it's pretty small, and cuts off after two short lines. Thumbnails with added text can be far more effective in grabbing your viewers' attention, and let you maximum the tiny amount of space you have in the IGTV Explore page. The two lines of text can even work together!
How to make the perfect thumbnail
Now that you know more about what your thumbnail can do for you, I'll show you how to make one. I recommend using Kapwing to put your thumbnail together because it's free, browser-based, works on any device, and gives you free cloud storage for all your files. Here's what you'll need to do:
- Upload your video to the Kapwing Converter
- Process your thumbnail as a JPEG
- Resize, format, and edit in the Kapwing Studio
- Publish, download, & post!
Step 1: Upload your video to the Kapwing Converter
Find the video you're going to upload to IGTV and head to Kapwing.com. From here, click on "Tools" at the top of the window and scroll down until you find "Convert Video." You can browse through your files to find the video you want to use, or enter the URL of a video stored online.
Step 2: Process your thumbnail as a JPEG
In the Converter window, select "JPEG" from the list of file types. Use the slider under your video to choose the frame you want to use as your thumbnail. Once you've chosen the perfect freeze-frame, just hit "Create." Your snapshot will be processed in just a few seconds.
Step 3: Resize, format, and edit in the Kapwing Studio
Once your thumbnail image is done processing, you should choose "Open in Studio" from the options on the right side of the screen (or the bottom, if you're using a mobile device). This will take your image to the Kapwing Studio, where you can use all of Kapwing's editing tools in the same place.
This first edit you'll need to make is to resize your image. The required aspect ratio for IGTV thumbnails is a highly unusual 1:1.55. Your standard 9:16 vertical video frames are too tall, your Insta-friendly square posts are too wide, and all horizontal frames or videos will be severely cropped. What's worse, Instagram doesn't allow you to change the cropped area of your thumbnail image – it only allows you to use the middle portion of your cropped picture.
The first thing you should do is select "Custom Size" from the canvas editing options. To ensure the highest quality for your 1:1.55 image, you can enter 1240x1920 in the two fields. The exported JPEG will be well within IGTV's 4MB file size limit, so the largest possible size will work best. To frame your photo best, select it and choose "Crop" from your editing options. Drag the corners of the crop frame to show the portion that you want to use for your thumbnail image.
If you want to include the full frame in your thumbnail, choose "Unconstrained" in the cropping options. Back in the Studio editor, drag the corners of the image layer and arrange it on the canvas. This will add background padding to the top & bottom of your thumbnail if it's wider that 1:1.55, and on the sides if it's taller. You can change the color of these bars by changing the background color of your canvas using the canvas editing options. Dark colors work best, since IGTV displays video titles in white at the bottom of the thumbnail.
To add descriptive and eye-catching text to your thumbnail, choose "Text" from your canvas editing options. You can enter your text and customize its color, position, size, font, and style. Make your text as concise and engaging as possible! Try to keep your text box out of the bottom quarter of your thumbnail, since this is where your title and user information will be displayed on the Explore page.
Step 4: Publish, download, & post!
Once your thumbnail is formatted and edited the way you want, click "Publish" at the top of the Studio window. Your image will be ready to download in under a second. Once it's done, select "Download" from the right side of the screen, and your video will be saved to your device.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12 or earlier, you’ll need to download the very small Kapwing mobile app from the App Store. The app doesn’t require any login – it’s only meant to help you download your videos! To download your video on your iPhone, just copy the URL of the download page and paste it into the URL field in the Kapwing app.
With the thumbnail saved on your device, open Instagram and select the IGTV icon at the top of your main feed (it looks like a little TV with a lightning bolt on it). From your IGTV Explore menu, hit the "+" button in the upper right-hand corner and choose the video you want to upload to IGTV. Press "Next," and you can select your thumbnail image by selecting "Add from Camera Roll" – your custom thumbnail will be the most recent thing in your photo library. Hit "Next," enter your title, description, and other info, and post your video to IGTV!
Remember to tag us @KapwingApp whenever you share your content on social media– we love to see what our creators are passionate about! And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources page – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.