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Facebook is different things to different people. It’s used to stay in touch, play games, share news and stories, or promote brands. What unites almost everyone who regularly uses Facebook is the desire to be popular and Liked.

The problem is that Facebook guards updates and doesn’t automatically show everything to everyone. The algorithm that determines how many people get to see a post is called EdgeRank and it pretty much is a black box. Nobody knows exactly what will make something go viral on Facebook. However, there are a few things you can put on your checklist to significantly improve your chances to become popular.

This article provides a summary of the wisdom from science and social media experts.

Be Upbeat & Positive

Good news spread faster and farther than anything else on social media, which is in contrast to traditional mass media. Psychologists explain that we care how our friends and peers react to what we share. Since we generally want our friends to be happy, we prefer to share something that makes them feel good. Consequently, you will literally be liked a lot more if your updates are upbeat and positive. Frankly, this one shouldn’t come as a surprise as the same is true for how you behave in ‘real life’.

There are some things, however, you should not share on Facebook Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Ah, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull... Read More , regardless of how positive or exciting they are.

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Impress!

Studies show that people are much more likely to share or Like content that arouses a strong emotional reaction in them. This includes science articles that leave them in awe, as well as posts that excite them or make them laugh. Although content that triggers strong emotions like anger or anxiety tends to do well, the more positive a story is, the more likely it is to be shared.

See Upworthy’s entire How To Make That One Thing Go Virual slide show.

Appeal To Your Friends & Followers

Being positive and having the potential to trigger strong emotions is worthless, if you fail to capture the interest of your friends and followers. Know what they care about and feed their interests. Or build the audience that genuinely cares for what you have to share. Consider targeting different types of updates to different groups of friends.

There are a few things that really annoy people on Facebook 5 Things People Do On Facebook That Drive Me Crazy 5 Things People Do On Facebook That Drive Me Crazy How does one fall victim to Facebook fatigue? While that's a question that is conditional to the temperament of each individual user, I can bet that experiencing any of the following five antics will have... Read More ; avoid them like the plague.

Know Who Your Friends Or Followers Want To Appeal To

Now this one is a little complicated, so bear with me. People won’t just share something because it impressed them, they also want to impress others with what they share. In other words, if they think a person they really care about will Like what they are reading right now, they are much more likely to share it. So try to craft your Facebook updates in a way that make the social cognition regions in your readers’ brains fire! Or in simple terms: appeal to the friends of your friends!

Be Fresh!

Always strive to post about current and exciting things! We all love to be entertained and learn something new. And don’t forget to add your own unique twist; it will make you memorable.

Use Visuals

People don’t read, unless a great headline or a visual catches their attention. Pictures have been found to work best, better even than videos. So put an effort into finding or creating great images for your Facebook updates. Note that with the News Feed changing, pictures will be granted more space; you can now use up to 600 x 600 pixels.

If you decide to use visuals, be very careful not to breach copyright laws. Here is a list of things that might get you banned from Facebook How To Get Banned From Social Networks How To Get Banned From Social Networks The Web has opened up lines of communication that were previously closed for the vast majority of the world. Anyone with an Internet connection can now head online and talk to someone on the other... Read More .

Be Brief!

While you’re putting more effort into adding good images, cut down on the amount of words you are using. Although Facebook doesn’t have a character limit, it appears that even 140 characters are too much. Also note that text describing a picture won’t show as caption, instead it will be overlaid at the bottom of the image. Around 80 characters are said to work best.

Interact With Your Friends & Followers

Essentially a no-brainer, but communicating with someone is more engaging for them than being talked at. Involve people in your updates, ask a question, let them fill in a blank, have them write a caption for a funny photo, or challenge them to another activity. Telling people something you would like them to do will significantly increase their interaction. Sometimes life is simple.

Timing

Everyone is busy and all our Facebook News Feeds are flooded with updates. The best time for your posts depend on where your audience is located and what their Facebook habits are. Generally, weekend mornings tend to work best.

See the entire Your Way to Facebook Success Infographic.

Conclusion

Being popular on Facebook or making something go viral is hard work. Moreover, it requires quite a bit of skill and a lot of luck. However, if you follow a basic and smart recipe, practice a lot, and continuously learn from your own experience and that of others, you will eventually have a breakthrough. Never give up!

What is the Facebook success you are dreaming of?

Image Credits: Like via Shutterstock, Girl in Hammock via Shutterstock, Light Bulbs via Shutterstock, Green Grass via Shutterstock, Ladders and Clouds via Shutterstock. This post was inspired by an article on The New York Times and contains additional ideas from a Pagemodo Infographic, DashBurst, and an Upworthy slide show.

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