Stanford Researchers Discover Method to Predict Which Photos will be Shared on Facebook

Researchers at Stanford University have found a new way to predict the popularity of a photo on Facebook by analyzing how fast that photo is shared. In the opinion of researchers it was not sure whether information cascades (photos or videos being shared multiple times) could be predicted since they occur very rarely. As per the data provided by Facebook scientists to university scientists, out of 20 photos posted on the social media network, only one gets shared even once. Stanford researchers developed an algorithm that proved to be more accurate each time a photo was shared.

During their study, the researchers analyzed 150,000 Facebook photos where each of them had shared on the network at least five times. The preliminary analysis revealed there was only a 50-50 chance for the shares to get doubled at any given point in a cascade. So the researchers looked for the variables that could predict the doubling of events more accurately such as the rate and speed of sharing and the structure of sharing. After that, they could predict the doubling events nearly 80 percent of the time. The accuracy rate of the algorithm reached up to 88 percent for photos shared hundreds of times. The best variable for predicting cascade growth was the speed of sharing. It was possible to predict doublings 78 percent of the time by analyzing how quickly a cascade unfolded while slow, persistent cascades didn’t double in size.

The next best predictive factor was how a photo was shared or network or simply the structure of the cascade. The photos that got shared across different friendship networks or fan groups indicated the extent of interest. When used alone, the structure of the sharing proved to be 67.1 percent accurate at predicting doubling events. However, the researchers could not find no simple strategy that could ensure widespread sharing. According to them, it is very important to understand your network to achieve this. Expert help is evident in determining which picture would be appropriate for your network. A good social media optimization partner would be very beneficial to the overall process.

Instead of status updates, images are shared more easily on Facebook since people are typically attracted more to pictures than text. Images play a big role in Facebook ads. Also, the popular social networking site introduced new changes to its newsfeed design with bigger images and photos.

Facebook Photos, global travel industry intelligence conducted a poll covering 1500 Americans on the subject ‘What is the most important service for you to share your travel photos?’ Around 42% of respondents voted for Facebook and some said their friends’ travel photos may influence their holiday plans. This emphasizes the importance of images in Facebook marketing. Images in your Facebook posts should be optimized to make them shareable which would enhance your social media marketing efforts. Here are some practices that can make your images attractive

  • Use images that feel authentic and less cookie-cutter
  • The size of the photos is very important. With the latest newsfeed design, the best size for your photo posts on Facebook is 470px wide x 394px tall
  • Ensure proper lighting when you take your picture. Make sure that the photos have good clarity. Try to use natural light rather than flash, as it can give a manufactured feel

If it is possible to predict which photos will go viral on the network, it would give you a better idea on how to convey your information and how it spreads online. This will help you better manage socially-shared content (optimize images) and applications. Help from SEO specialists can prove quite invaluable when it comes to designing your images and social media fan pages and making updates to them in a timely manner. This would naturally inspire your audience and visitors to your pages to share them, which will work wonders for your viral visibility.