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Get More Likes On Your Facebook Photos Using Science [Weekly Facebook Tips]

Angela Randall 30-04-2014

So, you’ve heard that photos are the way to game Facebook Edgerank 8 Tips To Increase EdgeRank & Exposure For Your Facebook Page Updates [Weekly Facebook Tips] If you run a Facebook Page, you probably noticed that there was a change in your reach since September 2012. This is because Facebook revised how its EdgeRank algorithm worked for Pages, making it a... Read More and that’s not enough for you. Now you want to know which photos are the best? So did a bunch of researchers. And they found out.


It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to make a professional Facebook page more interesting 5 Great Ideas to Make Your Facebook Fan Page Interesting There are many Facebook pages around that aren't being run very effectively, mainly because the people in charge aren't sure what they can do to be more interesting to their fans. You've seen them around... Read More , a Facebook group popular How You Can Make Your Facebook Group Popular [Weekly Facebook Tips] So, you made a Facebook group but there's hardly anyone in it? Or maybe you made a group for a specific bunch of people, but can't seem to get anyone to be active within the... Read More or improve your Facebook presence 10 Great Ways To Improve Your Facebook Page's Popularity Facebook pages come in all manner of different shapes and sizes. Many are pretty lame, gaining very few likes and with hardly anyone talking about them. Obviously the subject of the page is the most... Read More . If you’re going to go through the effort of putting a photo on Facebook, you want people to see it. And pictures with more likes get seen more, then get more likes, and sometimes even go viral. So it’s important to choose the very best picture you possibly can. What are the best pictures? The answer is stranger than you may have thought.

The Science Of Photos

Aditya Khosla and his team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ran 2.3 million Flickr photos through their experiment to determine which photos got the most views. The test is expected to be applicable to any image shared on the Internet, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr or some other site.

They took into consideration things like the amount of tags, friends, and how long the user had been with the service. After accounting for all this, they got down to analysing the nitty gritty of the actual image, including colours, content, etc.

Popularity Score

In a Huffington Post report, Khosla said “Some people have 10 friends, some have a thousand. Despite all these differences, it is interesting to see that the content of the image itself can be used to predict how popular an image is going to be.


You may have done your own experiments with photos, only to become completely frustrated. It seems like it’s all a bit hit and miss. Is there a formula for photos the Internet likes?

“While some images get millions of views, others go completely unnoticed. This variation is noticed even among images uploaded by the same user, or images in the same genre.” – Aditya Khosla and team in the paper “What Makes An Image Popular” [PDF]

Predicted Popularity Of Images

Read the full paper on “What Makes An Image Popular” [PDF] and more about Aditya Khosla’s studies if you’re really interested.

So what makes a photos successful?


The Object Of Your Photos

Apparently, the most common objects in the photo set tested were “seashore, lakeside, sandbar, valley and volcano”. But these do not correlate with the most popular photos. For that, you need to take photos with the following objects: “miniskirt, maillot, bikini, cup, brassiere, perfume, revolver”.

The medium impact photos included the objects: “cheetah, giant panda, basketball, llama, plow, ladybug”. Whatever you do, don’t post photos of spatulas, plungers and golfcarts and expect them to be well received.

The Colour Of Your Photos

There was a lot said in the study about the intensity of colour and the colours used, but the gist of the results is that greenish/blueish colours should be avoided and you should aim for photos with more red tones. That’s a pretty vague description to apply to a complicated result, though, so take a look at the colour chart yourself.

Popularity of Colours


Predict Your Image’s Popularity

Khosla and the team didn’t stop at writing a paper. They also built a tool to let you gauge how popular your image might be. You can either upload an image or plug in the URL to get your results. In no time you’ll know which of your preferred photos is likely to be the best received.

Popularity Preview

Tweak Your Headshots

Khosla has also written a paper on how to tweak your headshots to make them even better and avoid awful selfies 5 Things To Avoid When Taking Selfies Selfies shouldn’t be taken lightly, and there are many things you need to avoid. Read More . Titled “Modifying the Memorability of Face Photographs” [PDF], you too can learn how to take the best ever picture of yourself Tired Of Boring Selfies? 10 Instagram Gems You Don't Want To Miss Instagram has more than 100 million active users. How do you find the really awesome users to follow? The ones that upload photos that are actually worth your time? We found 10. Read More .

More Ideas For Photos

One of the most interesting things in the study was that the researchers suggested it may be possible to design a tool that made suggestions to photographers about how their photos could be modified for more broad appeal. This could be simultaneously fantastic and disastrous, considering that genuinely great photography may get sidelined for popular pictures. What do you think?


Related topics: Facebook, Photo Sharing, Photography.

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