Instagram is one of my favorite social media sites. It makes it easy to ensure that I only see content that I care about – content posted by my friends. I care that my friend had breakfast with her niece, that my roommate had good cup of coffee and that there was a particularly good sunset in my hometown. I connect with these pictures because I want to hear (and see) stories from the people that I know and love.
Besides friends, there are only a handful of other accounts that I follow. Humans of New York (HONY) is my favorite. Photographer Brandon Stanton has knack for taking lovely portraits with even lovelier captions. Stanton often tells stories that evoke emotion, even though the people in his pictures are strangers to his followers.
Five days after posting a picture of Vidal, a young man with great admiration for his principal, HONY has raised over $600,000 for his school. The HONY community contributed to this online fundraiser after Stanton posted additional photos of Mott Hall Bridges Academy and interviews with its principal, Nadia Lopez. Now middle school students who have never left New York City will be able to take field trips to Harvard and participate in safe, educational summer programs.
Turns out people, myself included, also care to hear about strangers in New York City.
As a PR major, I believe that an organization’s ability to tell its stories can contribute to its success. This week HONY has demonstrated how good stories and social media can accomplish big goals in a small amount of time. The picture of Vidal and his story has the potential to connect with many different groups of people. People who love kids, educators, people who are from New York, parents, photographers and so many others can empathize with the story in some way or appreciate the content. Online, it is also easily sharable. Individuals can share it with others, eventually connecting groups to other groups, and leading to the participation of those that are most interested.
Simple stories and faces speak loudly, even in a constant flow of media. People care about people, and media can be used to further amplify their stories.