Humans of New York (HONY) was created by Brandon Stanton in 2010. HONY first started as a project to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers, but it has since evolved into a huge social media success story. Stanton’s platform now provides a worldwide audience with glimpses into the daily lives of New Yorkers.
With 18 million likes on Facebook and 9 million followers on Instagram, Humans of New York is clearly doing something right – and digital marketers should take note.
Last month, Humans of New York released an 11-part interview series about a man named Walter Miller.
Each interview piece was posted in hour blocks, and people from all over the world were staying awake into the early morning to keep updated.
The HONY community is incredibly engaged and vocal, with one of the series posts reaching over 260,000 likes and 12,000 comments. This audience engagement sheds light on just how powerful content marketing can be.
A lot can be learned from this social media success story. In this blog, we discuss the four key insights every brand can take away from Humans of New York.
Why it works and what marketers can learn from HONY.
The reason for HONY’s success is quite simple: the content is authentic and engaging, which offers real value.
With every photo posted, there is an accompanying caption that sheds incredible light into personal memories, beliefs, attitudes and experiences. Often touching on relevant topics including love, death, sickness, and hardships, the short stories are relatable, inspiring, and heartfelt.
This is why HONY is so successful – it showcases everything that is authentic and genuine about being a human. By shedding light on the unique ups and downs of human life in a conversational tone, Stanton is able to create an open environment where people can relate and show empathy to others
HONY has successfully fostered a community that is extremely engaged. With thousands of comments and huge reply threads on posts, the HONY community is easily one of the most engaged audiences on Facebook, and content marketers can learn a lot from it.
4 Lessons Marketers can Learn from HONY.
Regardless of how different your brand may be from HONY, every marketer can learn something from this social media success story.
1. Be Authentic
The authentic emotion Stanton can capture in each portrait is both beautiful and intriguing. Noone questions the validity of HONY’s interviews because the authenticity comes through in every picture.
The images stand out from cluttered news feeds because of the genuine and ‘untouched’ aesthetic. In a world where ‘fake reality’ is exemplified on social media, HONY provides users with content that is refreshing and authentic.
Brands can learn from this and make an effort to be more authentic online. Showcase the human side of your brand with photos of your staff, relatable struggles, and things that make us human.
2. Tell a Good Story
Stanton actively interviews a wide range of people from different cultural backgrounds. The stories captioned with each portrait provide insight into different walks of life. Although each story is unique and comes from a person’s own experience, it is somehow relatable to thousands of people.
The stories are inspiring and moving, and audiences are left to feel something. Not only does this storytelling aspect make each post incredibly engaging and relatable, but it is also highly shareable among large audiences.
3. Consistency is Key
Humans of New York has a consistent theme that is used with each touchpoint. The portrait style is unique to Humans of New York, making content extremely recognisable and easy for users to develop high brand recall.
4. High Quality Images
Stanton only posts high quality images, the portraits are always high-resolution images. His content is never cluttered with text, filters or logos. The visual appeal of the portraits has helped the success of HONY.
There is a common theme throughout all four of these lessons: humanity. Brands can learn a lot from the way Stanton has humanised the HONY brand. It’s authentic and genuine, and the relatable content is what brings audiences together.
If you’re wanting to better connect with your audience, get in touch with Soak Creative about humanising your brand today.