Humans of Social Media

Sometimes it takes a minute for an idea to get its time in the spotlight. That wasn’t the case for Humans of New York, est. 2010. When the photoblog leaned into what its subjects were sharing, it became a social media behemoth. Years later, we’ve got Humans of Bombay, Felines of New York, Goats of Bangladesh, Pigeons of Boston and if you’re like me and work with a campus/community of people – you’ve probably seen “Your Brand/City of New York” pop up at some point.

The Concept

Post a picture of a person.

Caption it with their story.

Get long.

Get intimate.

Seriously, get really long.


Add to your toolkit

You can start a “humans” themed personal stories account. But you don’t have to. You can implement this highly effective, algorithm friendly content strategy as a campaign or series within your already existing accounts.

For years, we’ve had a “Humans of (Here)” account on our campus but in the last few months I’ve also seen student teams implementing the strategy in other ways.

Building up to our TEDx event on campus, the student team released the usual Save the Date, Speaker Spotlight, Favourite TED Talks content but they also published a series of Humans/Stories posts that outperformed everything else.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, our student Wellness Education team released a series of Humans/Stories posts that hit me harder than just about anything I’ve read during years of supporting the campaign. These were the faces and experiences of real students. Our students.


The social media accounts above also deployed beautiful design, provoking+thoughtful content and hit on things that the audiences were interested in. There were selfie walls. There was live video. There were photographers and Twitter takeovers.

For both teams, it was the Humans/Story content that sang the loudest.

The images above are screenshots from Facebook Insights showing Reach and Engagement results for both TEDx and Wellness campaigns (numbers removed). Yellow bars indicate individuals reached via Facebook per post. Pink bars indicate reactions+shares+comments achieved per post. Human/Story posts increased results to the point that results for other types of posts are almost hard to see.

Seriously consider this content strategy if the new Facebook algorithm has taken its toll on your Facebook Page, or if you’re struggling to create engagement between your content and your Facebook audience. It’s social media. People connecting to people. Putting real people, real humans into the spotlight isn’t really a radical idea – it’s just something we fall away from and need to be reminded of sometimes.

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