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5 Reasons People Use Clickbait Thumbnails in Articles

Updated on May 22, 2016
Chriswillman90 profile image

Krzysztof is a 5+ year YouTube researcher who spends hours researching, analyzing, and uncovering YouTube trends, challenges, and media.


What's Clickbait?

Oh look it's an attractive, half-naked female model in the thumbnail, that's nice.

But wait a second....

Isn't the title of the video "How to be an Accountant". What does that image have to do with the topic?

Well guess what...You've just been lured in by a suggestive image or thumbnail that is completely unrelated to the author's title.

Do you feel good about yourself now or are you feeling a bit foolish. It's okay don't fret, this is a common technique people use on the internet to grab people's interest.

But let's get to the bottom of the war on thumbnails and find out why else people use these "images".

1. Increase Viewership

It's all about those views.
It's all about those views. | Source

How to Gain Views

The number one reason someone would show a women parading her cleavage on a thumbnail would be to get others to click on their video, blog, or other internet related endeavor.

Because duh everyone knows it's all about the imagery and not the content or title that gains viewers right? (eh sort of....meh not really)

Sadly for the clicker, once the link opens up they'll quickly find out that they've been tricked. While in their rage of getting deceived, the viewer will leave an insulting comment on the video or article completely trashing the author or creator.

I mean yes it's the creator's fault for deceiving you, but you shouldn't have clicked on it either.

You're really going to get mad clicking on a thumbnail when the title of the video says "How to be an Accountant". Perhaps you were expecting a surprise of some sort or you've forgotten how to read.

Regardless, the creator is technically at fault because they are the ones tricking their audience.

For other thumbnail violators, they're only tarnishing their credibility along with generating distrust among their viewers, readers, and followers. It's not worth the extra views if you're seen as an amateur.

There's nothing wrong with using an interesting thumbnail to gain views just as long as it means something or is included in the video.

2. Makes Content Look Interesting


Makes the Content Interesting

A picture is worth a thousand words and that cliché needs to get retired, but I can't deny that it has a point.

And If that is true, then I can see why people choose images that will generate interest among their viewers.

  • Clever imagery will not only increase views but make your piece stand out.

However there's a right and wrong way to do this. The right way utilizes your piece by making the image compliment your work. When something compliments a piece, it makes it look or appear better to the viewer.

The wrong way is when you add something random, unrelated, or just plain odd because your content lacks quality. Instead of the thumbnail serving as a complimentary set, it tries to mask major flaws within the video, blog, or article.

But this doesn't mean you can't use an odd thumbnail in your article or video.

If you feel the piece is very strong with no spelling or grammatical errors, then it's okay to use an unusual thumbnail.

3. Lack of Creativity


No Creativity

I often find there's more bad than good when it comes to thumbnail usage, and this is one of the main reasons why.

  • Unfortunately when the content is lacking in substance, individuals try to substitute it with unrelated imagery throughout their piece.

They not only lack creativity when doing this but are seen as lazy, passive creators whom only know how to use cheap tricks to grab people's attention. For those people, the less effort they put in, the better they feel about it.

Well guess what....all those bloggers, writers, and YouTubers that think it's easy to gain viewership through cheap tricks are wrong. The reality is that it takes very hard and arduous work.

Anyone can upload a video on YouTube, but the most successful creators are the ones who work the hardest, carve out a niche, and are passionate about what they do.

People do not realize how difficult it is to gain a respected following and consistent viewership, and I guarantee it's not through false advertising.

By the way for all you viewers who only click on something because of the inappropriate imagery, you are on the internet!

If that's what you're into, then there's plenty of places you can go to get your fix.

4. Relates to Content


Relates to an Article or Video

Just because someone uses suggestive imagery in the thumbnail doesn't mean they are a bad writer, blogger, vlogger, or YouTuber.

  • As long as the thumbnail has something to do with your video or written piece, then it's perfectly fine to use.

Creators shouldn't get discouraged from using a particular image as long as it relates to their content and meets proper guidelines.

If the thumbnail is a still image from a video or resembles the piece, then using it is acceptable as long as it's not over the top.

How your audience handles it is a completely different issue altogether.

Some may prefer inappropriate imagery in your photos or thumbnails and others may shun you for using "abrasive or explicit" imagery.

So remember to keep your demographic in mind. Who is your audience exactly, and what do they like to read and see?

For example if your audience skews younger, particularly male, then they won't mind certain images and will probably be more likely to click on those thumbnails. If your audience is older, religious, or female then the opposite holds true.

If you have a mixed audience, then you should mix up your pieces because chances are some will enjoy one thing and the rest will like something else.

A pleasant dose of variety never hurts.

5. Express Yourself Artistically

Show off Your Art

Rather than lacking creativity, these kinds of people may be loaded with tons of creativity, and they'll use a thumbnail as a form of self-expression.

The images could easily be something they've created or photographed because they may be artists like painters, sketch artists, and photographers.

  • Sometimes what you see is not what the artist's intent was, and our context turns a harmless piece into something controversial.

For example, European countries view nudity as a form or art whereas the United States sees them as expletive.

There are plenty of writers and creators who feel the same way even though they may not realize how other people see their work.

A music video produced by the artist Sia with the song titled "Elastic Heart" portrayed a young girl and a much older, burly looking man covered in facial and body hair.

In the video the two danced around each other in a cage set to the song with elements of performance art, however; critics and viewers of the video thought their behavior was risque and addressed their concerns to Sia.

Clearly this isn't the case when you really watch and listen to the song's lyrics, but people's pervasive nature got the better of them.

For the artist, there was nothing damaging about the video but her viewers couldn't understand, and this same applies to creators who use certain images and styles where context is taken the wrong way.

  • So the use of thumbnails isn't black and white, and this is why we can't jump to conclusions.

If you're a creator, then don't be afraid to use various thumbnails as long as they make sense.

If you're genuine and only strive for high quality, then your viewers will see that and they won't look at you differently because of what you used to grab their attention.

Have confidence in yourself and use your common sense, and everything will come together in the right way for you.

Why do you Use Thumbnails or Images?

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    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      That's what immediately jumped out at me whenever I've thought about thumbnails people use. It's a form of baiting just to get views and subscribers and I was never a fan of it. Thank you for the read.

    • EzekielHawk profile image

      EzekielHawk 2 years ago

      This is a most common practice on Youtube. You click on it and later find out that the content is not at all relevant or promising as the thumbnail displayed; simply deceptive.

      Great Hub, Chris!

    • Chriswillman90 profile image

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Thank you Jodah, the use of some of those irrelevant thumbnails gets on my nerves. Agree about the Facebook ads and it's just so deceptive to readers.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very good hub Chris. I have seen the inappropriate use of thumbnails to get viewers especially in Facebook advertisements. What you click on often has nothing to do with where it takes you..or so it seems. I like your "appropriate" use of images. They were very relevant to your hub's content