A group of researchers from MIT Sloan revealed what brings Facebook Likes.

Social media marketing initiatives usually include Facebook, the top performing platform, which garnered 55 percent of all social sharing in 2012, according to research from AddThis. Facebook’s impressive performance over the past decade led a team of researchers at MIT Sloan to study how certain types of content generate different responses online. Was inspiring, custom content the way to go? Was it better to post images? What is the best strategy?

Content marketers can take note of the researchers’ discoveries, posting content that is likely to bring in Likes, comments and viral shares.Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Researchers studied 1,000 wall posts from 98 global brands, finding that photos, topical content and promotional messages all generated more “Likes,” as did educational and topical posts. Results showed that content marketers and social media managers should not shy away from humanizing the brand through relevant and emotional content. Posts that contained humor also saw increases in engagement, especially as most content from brands is not particularly funny. A simple call to action to “Like” a brand saw success, so marketers don’t need to shy away from asking for “Likes.”

The group also studied the distinctions between Twitter and Facebook, noting that there weren’t many substantial differences, except when it came to message length. Longer messages were just as likely to be shared on Facebook as shorter ones, but those with close to 140 characters were less likely to be Retweeted on Twitter.

Content marketers should consider MIT Sloan’s findings carefully as they seek to develop social media campaigns that include Facebook. Changing up strategies to include more photos, humor, emotions and relatable content may see an increase in activity, leading to more Likes, comments and shares.

Emma Siemasko is a former member of Brafton's editorial team. Emma has experience with blogging, travel writing, industry news, SEO and content marketing. She used to live in South Korea, where she mastered the art of using metal chopsticks.