Predicting the popularity of an image on social networks based solely on its visual content is a difficult problem. One image may become widely distributed and repeatedly shared, while another similar image may be totally overlooked. We aim to gain insight into how visual content affects image popularity. We propose a latent ranking approach that takes into account not only the distinctive visual cues in popular images, but also those in unpopular images. This method is evaluated on two existing datasets collected from photosharing websites, as well as a new proposed dataset of images from the microblogging website Twitter. Our experiments investigate factors of the ranking model, the level of user engagement in scoring popularity, and whether the discovered senses are meaningful. The proposed approach yields state of the art results, and allows for insight into the semantics of image popularity on social networks.