“Streetfilms University” Tip: Make sure your Thumbnail excites Potential Viewers

Want one of the best pieces of advice on marketing your film? Here it is in a nutshell:  you can make the best or worst film in the world, but the only way you'll ever get someone to press play is if the thumbnail (the "preview frame") you are using is representative, exciting, and  thoughtful.

Sounds easy, right?  Well, we've learned the hard way over the years that picking the right frame leads to more views (heck way back when Youtube randomly assigned a still to your video it was so damn frustrating!) but nowdays most sites allow you to either choose from a number of still shots or upload your own. The viral competition is fierce, so make sure you got something spectacular spectacular!!

"The Porch" at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia

Let's start off with a simple representative screen shot from your post.  Here is a Streetfilm we shot on "The Porch" a new public space in Philadelphia. We simply chose a specific shot that showed the space, the amenities, and people using it in large numbers.  It's very important to show people using facilities in transportation and public space videos.  Imagine this same shot with no people in it on a dreary day?  Not so enticing to watch.

Green Lane Project in New York City

The next shot above is going one step further: not only using a representative shot from your video, but also putting in the text of the title.  That way if someone doesn't read any text that accompanies it, they will know that this is a Streetfilm from the Green Lane Project and they are in New York City using protected bike lanes.  It gives an additional note and way to promote.  And in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter where you only get a few lines of text to convince people to watch, but usually get that wonderful thumbnail preview, it's that much more important.

Streetfacts: Bike Lanes Not Just for Big Cities

Sometimes you'll feel your topic is a little too complicated or ambitious to be explained just with one snapshot.  In that case I usually choose multiple frames and make a poster frame that is dynamic and hopefully piques interest further.  Here's one from our current Streetfacts series. Yes, it takes a little more time, but really not so much in the long run as it will help you when promoting it and getting others to use it on their blog and advocacy.

Voices from the National Women's Bike Summit

Finally, well sometimes you have to just get really inventive or just try something different.  The above is from the Women's Bike Summit in D.C. this past March. Since this is just coverage of a gathering of people and speeches, which can sometimes be a difficult topic to get viewers to sample, I wanted to up the creative quotient and get dynamic.  It worked for us. But it also could have backfired since it is so busy.

I urge you to look thru Streetfilms and just see the thumbnails we have used over the years. We have a pretty good track record.  Not perfect, but we have had a lot of practice.  Good luck.