An overview of how Humans Of New York simulation is being used as a brand-building strategy by college students across the globe.
Humans of New York started as a photography project by Brandon Stanton that went on to inspire millions with stories of New Yorkers. Amongst the millions touched by the photoblog was Karishma Mehta, who drew inspiration to incubate a similar initiative for the city of Mumbai. Thus, Humans of Bombay came to life. The ‘Humans of’ format is today being used by students as an avenue to add value to their college brand.
HONY and HOB, and many other platforms like them, have grown into spaces of content and brand collaborations, proving ‘Humans of’ to be an effective marketing strategy. They have even published books, documenting the best of their digital content. In fact, while the Humans of New York book was recognised by the New York Times as a No. 1 Best Seller.
Over the years, Humans of Bombay has worked on several fundraiser initiatives and paid collaborations with brands such as Amazon Prime Video India, Maybelline India, Gillette India, Himalaya, and Hotstar. The two pages have also attempted to unravel the personal facets of world likes like Barack Obama and Narendra Modi.
With the intent of building a brand identity, a few colleges around the world are adopting this method of telling stories. Here, students share inspiring ‘Humans of’ stories from their institutions. From stories of students and chai-wallahs to teachers, hostel guards and canteen bhaiyas, these pages are an all-encompassing strategic celebration of life.
The stories shared on these platforms are raw and real. They instill confidence in the minds of the readers. The format aims to show how people can be ‘heroes’ of their own stories and how the college’s culture is an integral part of their story, helping them rise above.
Let’s have a look at some of these pages.
Began on February 18, 2019
Harvard Humans is a page that gives space to raw emotions. This includes the apprehensions of an Asian-American trying to be a part of the football team as well as a teacher recalling her experience of helping children in a Tsunami-hit Japan, in collaboration with UNICEF. Stories also include the sentiment of how Havard has a friendly atmosphere. The page’s bio has a link to the form where one can submit a nomination for a feature.
Humans of IIMA
Began on January 1, 2020
This Literary Symposium Desk of IIM-A runs the page. It stands by the vision of comprising “the people who make IIM-A what it is for us today.” What makes the page stand out is, that it only celebrates the experiences of the servicemen working in the institute. The narratives shared by Bhavesh Bhai and the 5 AM Chai-wale Bhaiya would surely be considered by the aspiring students who wish to pull off all-nighters before exams at IIM.
Official Humans Of NM
Frequency: Twice a week
Began on January 15, 2020
With a clear concept of spreading inspiration through ‘One story at a time,’ this page talks about a plethora of learning experiences shared by students who organize the popular fests in the college. This page shows how students from diverse backgrounds can still become the best of friends while sharing similar beliefs. Students get candid and share instances of facing social anxiety while acting as driving forces behind large organizing committees, they prove to be winners of their own battles in the end. This page is run by the Brand Building Committee. In addition, the course and the batch of the students are mentioned.
Humans Of Hindu College
Frequency: Twice a week
Began on July 26, 2019
As the Mental Health and Counselling Cell of the college, Friend’s Corner founded the page, students have continued to reveal the process of finding their political identity. The Girl’s Hostel guard, Ram Dulari Bhaiya reveals his high aspirational goals for the students. Girls question patriarchy and boys maintain a ‘cool vibe’ through their stories. The element that is found common in all stories is the inspirational plot. The page has mentioned the course and the batch of the students.
Humans of Macleans College
Began on February 14, 2019
While all the students portrayed were dressed in their college uniforms, there was a combination of love stories, a tale of bonding over the TV show – How I Met Your Mother and an eye-rolling dialogue, “A’s before baes.” A student also spoke about her experience while she went through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this page played the cards of high relatability with every story shared. The typical setting of a college was perfectly defined by this page through its tales.
Humans of St. Stephen’s
Began on September 18, 2018
With over a thousand followers, this page actively supported the students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh University. Students restricted themselves to talking about college only. It stands by the mission of “Capturing the essence of Stephania in the people who make it, build it, rebuild it and construct the glory of the college in a unique threshold.” The stories comprise messages for teachers, describe the rigorous learning culture, dogs in the campus and the holistic experience are the main subjects of conversations. People can also send feedback to the founders of the page via a link mentioned in the bio.
Humans of DBIT
Frequency: 3 to 4 times a week
Began on January 11, 2020
On this page, teachers ensure how they aim to regain the self-worth of their students back. A story that stood out, belonged to a helping staff who described her bond with a teacher, who took her on a dinner to a reputed restaurant and how special this gesture was to her. Students claimed to have faced the ‘percentage pressure’ and shared an instance of coming out to parents in India. This page is run by the Literature Society of the college.
Humans of Boston College
Frequency: Twice a week
Began on February 3, 2015
As the students give their honest advice for the incoming students, the page states its vision as “Get to know Boston College, one Eagle at a time.” The Instagram page is paired with a CTA to their Facebook page that shares the full stories, as Instagram only posts an excerpt from the story. A student proudly confessed, “In the last sentence of the application letter I wrote that, ‘I see the Woods College as a place where I will be valued not just as a student but as a person.’” Other stories had religion, experience in volunteering in Nepal and tales by the ground maintenance staff.
Also Read: Storytelling to engage & persuade
Humans Of St. Francis College
Began on November 27, 2018
The founders of this page followed the approach of interviewing the ‘humans’ There were idealistic answers on teamwork, human mistakes by students in uniforms. The authenticity of the page was reassured when a teacher shared an experience where the Principal of the college ended up scolding students in the assembly.
Humans of CU
Frequency: Twice a week
Began on February 1, 2019
Having a community of two thousand followers, the page stands by uniformity in the format and reality in the stories. Students talk about their familial struggles, passing through difficult phases in terms of health and standing headstrong through that! In fact, the teachers were humble enough to reveal their own work performances. There were tales of students exiting their comfort zones and gaining a plethora of learnings via real life experiences.
While most of these initiatives are student-led, they give an insight into how educational institutes now need a digital presence to communicate their stance to the world. With the increasing clutter in the industry, digital marketing for education brands is imperative and the ‘Humans of’ strategy could be the first step towards it.