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Social media-focused ad firms look to hire

When Dylan Harvey graduated from University of Texas last year, he knew the job market would be tough. He moved to New York from his home in Austin in January, and quickly found an internship at advertising firm Draftfcb. Since his internship ended a few weeks ago, though, he has been on the market for a new job.

The biggest difference between Mr. Harvey and other job seekers—he’s looking for work as a copywriter, preferably in a digital or social medium, one of few sectors that are quickly expanding. Thanks to social media, opportunities in this market are skyrocketing.

Digital DUMBO, a group that pushes the social media movement, hosts monthly events in hopes of pairing up job seekers with digital startups. Since its first free cocktail hour 18 months ago, the group has seen attendance at these events more than quintuple. At one such event Thursday night, six Brooklyn-based startups were on the prowl for up to 35 positions open this month, many with a social media focus.

“People are starting to think in terms of community, instead of in terms of buyers and clicks,” said Zephrin Lasker, the chief executive and co-founder of Pontiflex, a company that relies on Facebook and Twitter for many of its marketing services. Pontiflex, based in Dumbo, near downtown Brooklyn, has almost doubled its staff since January, and is looking to hire 13 more by the end of the year.

Social networking advertising dollars will increase by 11.2% to $1.4 billion by the end of the year, and eMarketer predicts an additional 7.7% growth by the end of next year. Because of this, more startups are developing to help redefine social media.

Instead of relying solely on existing websites, companies like Brooklyn-based HUGE are working alongside traditional social media platforms to invent their own. The digital marketing company created an online community for Pepsi, with touch points in other social media websites, and will give away grants for social giving projects in order to promote its Pepsi Refresh Everything campaign.

“A lot of companies are realizing that there is great potential in being part of the conversation in social (media),” said Patricia Korth-McDonnell, HUGE’s director of product strategy. But it’s more than just creating a Twitter account or Facebook page. “You can’t just insert yourself and think that everyone wants to be friends with you like they are friends with somebody they know.”

These companies are pushing their clients to treat social media as part of their overall strategy, as not as a silo. By the end of the year, eMarketer predicts a 16% increase in social network users in the U.S. alone. By 2014, there will be 29.8% more.

“Social [media] is a part of the user’s day that needs to be considered as part of the overall connected experience,” said Ms. Korth-McDonnell.

These startups are gaining more clients as big companies like Ford and Target realize social media’s potential. Carrot Creative turns away more clients than it accepts because it will only work on projects that fit with the company, and that they have the manpower to complete. Although the new media marketing agency wants to double its staff to 34 by the end of the year, it has specific requirements for potential candidates: talent, personality and creativity.

“Creative people — that’s what this generation is looking for,” said Katy Kelley, the company’s vice president of communications.

Crain's New York Business