New Tool Predicts Which Photos Will Go Viral On Facebook
A preliminary analysis of those photos revealed that, at any given point in a cascade, there was a 50-50 chance that the number of shares would double.
The scientists then looked for variables that might help them predict doubling events more accurately than a coin toss, including the rate and speed at which photos were shared, and the structure of sharing (photos reposted in multiple networks proved to create stronger cascades).
After factoring several criteria into their analysis the computer scientists were able to accurately predict doubling events almost 80 percent of the time.
Their algorithm became more accurate the more times a photo was shared. For photos shared hundreds of times, their accuracy rate approached 88 percent.
The speed of sharing was the best predictor of cascade growth. Simply analyzing how quickly a cascade unfolded predicted doublings 78 percent of the time. “Slow, persistent cascades don’t really double in size,” Leskovec said.
How a photo was shared – scientists call this the structure of the cascade – was the next best predictive factor. Photos that spread among different friendship networks or fan groups indicated a breadth of interest.
Structure proved 67.1 percent accurate at predicting doubling when used alone.