Faces Engage Us: Photos with Faces Attract More Likes and Comments on Instagram

Authors: Saeideh Bakhshi, David Ayman Shamma, Eric Gilbert
Publication Date: April 26, 2014
Venue: CHI
Type: Conference Paper

Abstract

Photos are becoming prominent means of communication online. Despite photos’ pervasive presence in social media and online world, we know little about how people interact and engage with their content. Understanding how photo content might signify engagement, can impact both science and design, influencing production and distribution. One common type of photo content that is shared on social media, is the photos of people. From studies of offline behavior, we know that human faces are powerful channels of non-verbal communication. In this paper, we study this behavioral phenomena online. We ask how presence of a face, it’s age and gender might impact social engagement on the photo. We use a corpus of 1 million Instagram images and organize our study around two social engagement feedback factors, likes and comments. Our results show that photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments, even after controlling for social network reach and activity. We find, however, that the number of faces, their age and gender do not have an effect. This work presents the first results on how photos with human faces relate to engagement on large scale image sharing communities. In addition to contributing to the research around online user behavior, our findings offer a new line of future work using visual analysis.

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