Welcome Shalomoji Friends to another round of our Shalomoji column where we interview Jewish influencers around the world to help inspire and support aspiring newbie entrepreneurs, creatives, and thought leaders.
In this week’s feature interview, we are saying Shalom to the Founder and CEO of Humans of Judaism, Nikki Schreiber. Schreiber discusses the story behind her uplifting and mega-popular brand, the impact Judaism plays in her life, digs deep into what it takes to create a successful business, and much much more! Check out the full interview below!
Q: We here at Shalomoji absolutely adore Humans of Judaism. Tell us about Humans of Judaism for those who may not know.
A: Thanks so much Shalomoji! Humans of Judaism is a Jewish media brand, best known for its presence on social media. The idea was to highlight the positive within the Jewish community, share feel-good stories and encourage public participation with the brand slogan: ‘Everyone has a story, what’s yours?’
Q: How did the idea of Humans of Judaism come about?
A: I was in the year of mourning for the sudden loss of my father and it was important to me to do something meaningful in his memory. At the time, I would see negative Jewish community content online and often positive content was met with anti-Semitic and aggressive engagement. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a page that offered positive posts as well as negative comment management? And so, in June 2014, Humans of Judaism shared its first post.
Q: Tell us about your role at Humans of Judaism and what a day in the life looks like for you?
A: Every day is a new adventure. More often than not I couldn’t tell you what will be posted later that day. It’s pretty much what one would expect; finding/creating content that works, research and editing, posting the media across several channels, monitoring engagement, checking messages and emails, connecting with partners, meeting new people, go to sleep and repeat again in the morning. Obviously, this was the short version but you get the idea.
Q: As the great Albert Einstein once said: “Failure is success in progress.” What have been some of your “failures,” and how has it helped propel you towards the success of Humans of Judaism?
A: Some of my greatest “failures” have been my best lessons. In media, it’s a mix of creative content and presentation. Very often you have to take risks and try new formats and ideas that could be deemed a failure if it’s not well-received, but ultimately teaches you what works and what doesn’t. It’s a process, failure is a part of that process that must be had in order to succeed.
Q: How has Judaism played a factor in your journey through creating Humans of Judaism?
A: Humans of Judaism is clearly a labor of love. It is the love I have to honor my father and the love of the Jewish community. Judaism is home, it’s family, it’s life. It plays a vital role in this journey and has given me unique opportunities to successfully connect with Jews from all backgrounds, this part to me is the most meaningful.
Q: Out of all the stories you share on Humans of Judaism, is there one in particular that stands out from the rest?
A: A few years ago, Humans of Judaism started using the hashtag #telfie, which is essentially a tefillin selfie or photo of someone in tefillin. At first, it just was spotting photos of tefillin and sharing it. But then it moved on to followers sending in photos of themselves wearing tefillin from all over the world. The response is always so incredible, the places people go and pride they have to show off to everyone, ‘this is important to me’. It’s really powerful.
Q: Do you have any habits, tools or business hacks you find useful to share with the Shalomoji readers?
A: I always say the recipe to a successful post is one part good content, one part timing, and one part mazal. Focus on your content and your end game. Ask yourself what you are looking to achieve and produce content that lends itself to that end. Look at your best accomplishments and pay attention to your most successful posts by what has the best engagement and work on more of that style of content for potentially similar results. Always try new things, if an idea doesn’t land, that’s what the delete button is for ☺ It’s finding your niche and style. Keep things consistent, make sure to focus on one thing and branch out from there. I tend to operate as a user first and editor second.
Q: Are there any books, blogs, or podcasts you recommend that you believe helped shape your success with Humans of Judaism?
A: I wouldn’t really attribute it to books, blogs or podcasts, it has been more with my personal social media activity and keeping up with current events. Typically, I’ll surf my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds just to see what everyone is talking about that day. It’s important to follow and connect with people and pages that keep you informed on things you are interested in. Staying current on what’s in the news, milestones/occasions, media trends and things like that.
Q: What tactics did you use to develop your loyal customer base/ create buzz around Humans of Judaism?
A: There’s really no magic wand, it is all about content. Loyalty on social media is usually from users who can look forward to a reliable style they can get when they come to your page. It’s not that the content itself is predictable but the general feeling you get from the page is consistent. A lot has changed on social media since I got started, one of the things the page works harder on today is staying apolitical, maintaining a space on the internet that you won’t be arguing over a controversial post or politician.
Q: We here at Shalomoji would like to leave our readers with a nugget of inspiration. What has been your greatest inspiration? Is there a particular quote, life motto or mentor you look up to that has given you unforgettable advice?
One of my favorites is from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “The day you were born is the day G-d decided that the world could not exist without you.” We all mean something, we all have purpose.
Q: Any new and exciting updates for Humans of Judaism that you’d like to share with the Shalomoji readers?
A: Always exciting and new. As for today, I am finishing up details for my trip to Israel at the end of November. The occasion will mark my father’s 5th yartzeit (memorial). This will be the first official Humans of Judaism trip to Israel, complete with exciting partnerships and activities. In 5 years since my father’s passing so much has changed. This project in his memory has given me tools to do so many things that I never could have imagined. As for what’s next, like I said, every day is a new adventure, stay tuned.