Social Media Success Story-Humans of NY

September 16, 2015

“My name is Brandon and I began Humans of New York in the summer of 2010. I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map… I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. With over eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City” Brandon Stanton, Humans of NY Blogger, creator and author.

Based on the blog of ongoing New York City street portraits, photo blogger Brandon Stanton and his blog, Humans of NY, has fast become one of social medias favorite profiles. His posts are full of beautiful, heartfelt, moving and inspiring photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city. His loosely posed portraits are of stranger encounters on the streets of New York, complemented with a quote or a compelling rumination from the subject that offer surprising insights into their lives. These captions cover everything humans find most significant in life (identity, love, family, death, work, equality, sexuality, religion and so on) they are often inspirational, heartbreaking, funny, confessional, controversial, mundane and everything in between.

What is the secret of HONY’s success?

Humans of New York has built a large following using social media with over 15 million fans on Facebook and 3.8 million followers on Instagram. Posts often receive likes in the 100 thousand to 1 million range, and they are shared and commented upon in thousands. The comments on Humans of NY Facebook and Instagram posts are in a world of their own, unveiling a connected community with followers comments receiving lots of likes and replies themselves.

As a social curator on the streets of New York, Stanton has a deep source of content to draw from, which has proven to result in great social media success. For those in social media marketing, Humans of NY offers the desired celebration of the fundamentals of successful content: be engaging and offer real value. The approach and subject matter will not suit every audience (and every business), however, there are some key learning’s that can apply to all brands:

  • Strong Theme & Consistency: Humans of NY has a clear theme that is consistent throughout each blog and social media post. Beautiful casual everyday portraits, complemented with an expression or quote that is designed to give you a unique insight into the subjects lives.
  • Engaging Content: Humans of NY discovers a range of subjects and people that catch the attention of an extensive audience – different cultures, origins, sexual orientations, and economic backgrounds.
  • Visually Appealing: Humans of NY creates content that will make you stop in your tracks. The images are so appealing that it makes people pause in their newsfeed to enjoy the content and engage with it. It also makes the posts highly shareable.
  • Makes a Statement: There are a number of ways in which Brandon makes clear statements through his posts. One is the fact that he rarely uses#hashtags. Another is that in his social media bios, the link does not link to his blog, nor book website, it links to a charity to support humans in need. Brandon is truly making an improvement to people’s lives with each post he creates.

Furthermore, Brandon has turned his passion of photography and documenting the lives of his community into a successful business. In October 2013 Brandon published a book of his collected portraits, and it promptly went up to number 1 in The New York Times Best Seller list by November, and remained on the list for 18 consecutive weeks.

Without a doubt, Humans of New York presents a much-needed reminder when seeking higher return on investment on social media that the medium is undoubtedly a human endeavor. If you can connect with your audience on a personal level, you will see much greater social media success.

If you would like to learn how to turn your passion into a business, or learn how to leverage social media to benefit your business, contact Social Media College today. We are always here to brainstorm new ideas and have a passion for seeing our students succeed.

All photo credit goes to Brandon Stanton and the Humans of NY Blog

About the author 

Daniele Tanner

Daniele Tanner is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Social Media College, the leading educator for social media marketing.

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!