Why We Love Humans of New York

Car horns blare, the smell of hot dogs waft from a nearby vendor, people pass on every side talking on phones and rushing ahead. Another busy day in New York and the streets are bustling with people. Outside a cafe a man sits alone at a table, in front of you a couple holding hands laugh and share words you are not part of. Everywhere there are people.

In the parks dogs and their owners run across the green, a little girl collects rocks in a bucket, shrieking with delight at every new find, a man with a handful of colored balloons stands beside a woman smiling radiantly. Every person has an interesting story most of us will never hear.

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Well, until now at least. Thanks to the hugely successful Humans of New York blog these stories are being captured and told. Brandon Stanton, the mastermind talent behind the project, initially started photographing and plotting the New Yorkers on a map in 2010. As time went on he began collecting quotes and stories related to each person’s life and the project became what we know of today. At Taggs we are huge fans of Humans of New York. We wanted to apply our understanding of what makes the visual web tick. Working our magic over photos posted in the past three months we discovered some interesting results.

How we found what stories engaged best

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

We indexed nearly three months worth of images (345 to be exact). As we analysed common themes started to emerge; we like fluffy puppies, love stories, enthusiasm for life, and the struggle of the common man. Seriously, we really do love fluffy puppies, the top performing photo was of a dog with brilliant multi-colored eyes with almost half a million likes. Inspirational individuals and attitudes that inspire us were among the most popular posts. The man who beat cancer six times was almost our top engager. Stories such as this inspire us to overcome obstacles in our own lives. The raw, gritty honesty of the photographed individuals who testify to the world of their fears, regrets, and desires endear us to them instantly. Individuals with a positive attitude toward life engaged higher than those with a more pessimistic attitude or those who spoke of regrets. A single mother with a “can do” attitude generated a high level of engagement. On Humans of New York each highly engaging photo and story becomes the face of the experiences faced by many; a brief internet poster child for that cause.

Joy at life expressed through children’s expressions was another highly engaging theme. Today in micro fashion (focusing on children’s apparel) is already a popular theme on the page. However, when accompanied by an expression of sheer delight at life the post engaged much higher than those of other children. Smiling faces on all age groups engaged better than those who had a sad or stern expression. Individuals who looked away from the camera or hid their face engaged much less than those whose faces were clearly visible. The physicality of the facial expression is what endears us to connect consciously and emotionally with the individuals. Those who hid their face essentially hid from viewer engagement.

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

This delighted child engaged higher than the photo of the child with a large part of her face hidden

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Love makes us human, or, if you are Deon Jackson, “Love Makes The World Go Around”. Love stories certainly capture our attention. Photos accompanied with a love story or a comment about love consistently engaged highly. After all, we appreciate the evidence of what millions around the earth search for. The combination of the snippet of a story with the photo piques interest. Every individual becomes alive in imaginations as we visualise their life and personality.

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

 Photos involving Love Stories consistently engaged highly

Humans of New York/ Facebook

Humans of New York/ Facebook

We love that Humans of New York is gathering more than a photo census of the city. Brandon’s ability to connect with the individuals and share a snippet of the conversation has ensured every post stands uniquely alone. Perhaps the blogs best charm is it has kept the same honest tone and content as it has grown.  We are excited to discover more individual’s stories as Humans of New York continues their awesome work. If you want to do your own analysis of interesting images on the visual web sign up for the beta.