When photographer Brandon Stanton launched Humans of New York in the summer of 2010, Americans were still reeling from the Great Recession. While economists say the recession ended been over, 9.3 percent of New York City residents (and Americans as a whole) were unemployed in May 2010, and the photos and stories of average New Yorkers captivated and inspired people during a time when they needed it most, says Andy Seibert, chair of The Content Council and managing partner at Imprint, a New York City-based content marketing firm.

“Humans of New York provided the connection to humanity that people so dearly craved,” says Seibert. “Also, the content was, and still is, really good.”

Today, more than 15.8 million people like Humans of New York on Facebook — more than BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and other major media outlets. The brand has also garnered the attention of 4.1 million Instagram followers and the stories were turned into a #1 New York Times bestseller of the same title. A follow-up, Humans of New York: Stories was published this October.

Here are just a few of the reasons Humans of New York is a social influencer.

Content Lives in Multiple Places
Despite Humans of New York being a blog at its core, many people think of the Facebook page before they think of the website. All of the photos and stories that are posted on the blog are also posted on Facebook, instead of teasers on Facebook driving traffic to the site. And while this might make some bloggers cringe, it’s actually very forward thinking to allow content to live in multiple places, says Seibert, especially if nothing is being sold.

“Too many bloggers concentrate on their on-site metrics, not amplification,” says Seibert. “A platform like Facebook, with its heavy orientation for sharing, allows for organic promotion of the content and the brand overall.”

The Content Speaks for Itself
Humans of New York thrives because it constantly delivers top-notch content, says Seibert. The photos and stories are able to speak for themselves, without any gimmicks or click-bait headlines.

“I think Humans of New York provides a model for content creators: have a vision, create amazing content, and don’t be afraid to let the content fly free,” says Seibert.

It Makes People Feel Good
At the end of the day, Humans of New York thrives because of its ability to make people feel connected and because it reminds followers that everyone has a story.

“It is compelling, it is liquid and perfect for sharing, there is a no-strings-attached value proposition,” says Seibert “It feels good to follow; it feels right.”

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