The Beautiful Authenticity Of Humans Of New York

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There’s a quote from author Sarah Ban Breathnach, “The authentic self is soul made visible.” I couldn’t agree more with that quote. When it comes to social media marketing, we all search for that concrete element of authenticity in relating brand stories so people understand what a brand is about, and to get them to truly invest a personal relationship with that brand.

However, authenticity comes absolutely effortlessly to certain brands like Humans of New York. The creator of the page, Brandon Stanton, started Humans of New York in 2010 with a simple project to do: capturing photographs of 10,000 strangers in New York City. These photos were beautiful, but they had no context initially.

You take a look at one of the photographs with no context, no words, no story behind the person, and it is just another New Yorker.


But when you provide a caption or a story behind that photographer, the New Yorker in the image becomes a person with a story that you can relate to. And that’s the beauty of what Brandon did with that simple change.


The photographs became authentic because the people in the photographs were authentic. There was no sense of inauthenticity, and no implicit desire to sell or impress. Brandon also noticed the explosive growth in his fan base, with supportive comments that also shared their own personal experiences to each photograph he posted. The social media growth kept ramping up and the likes on his page kept growing — his Facebook brand page had gone viral because people loved what Brandon posted, and shared about the people in his photos.

They found humanity in Brandon’s work, and it was beautiful.

For many brands, this is very hard to achieve, but with a simple change in perspective regarding content, authenticity can be achieved and made relevant to fans on social media.

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Noelle Bell is the founder and CEO of Buzzworthy Social Media. She is a published author on Huffington Post, and consults with small and large brands on managing their digital marketing needs.

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