Agencies Branch Out for Talent

Agencies are increasingly turning to social media to help draw attention to their work, tapping services such as Pinterest and Instagram, and of course Facebook and Twitter. But they’re also making use of more niche platforms such as creative portfolio network Behance to ensure their work gets seen, and seen by the right people.

According to CEO Scott Belsky, Behance has seen a notable rise in the amount of agencies active on its platform over the past two months. They are using it to gain recognition within the creative community, but also to market themselves to the creative individuals that comprise it. Agencies with a presence on the network now include Leo Burnett NY, Big Spaceship, Sub Rosa, R/GA, and Hello Monday amongst others.

“When someone searches for Nike interactive design, R/GA wants to make sure it’s showing up top of the list,” explained Belsky. “The second reason the agencies are here is for talent and recruitment. It enables them to directly interact and engage with some of the most talented individuals around the world.”

Behance was originally intended to help creative teams and individuals build online portfolios and more successfully gain credit for their work. The idea was to highlight talent and to bring transparency and meritocracy to the creative field, to focus on what creatives are capable of rather than who they know in the industry.

But as creatives built names for themselves on the platform, agencies wanted in on the action, too. Agencies have always had online portfolios of their own, of course, but to a certain extent these simply preach to the choir, Belsky suggested. Rather than attracting the attention of potential clients or curious creatives, the only people that view agency portfolios are existing clients or people that have picked up a business card. Behance, he suggested, can expose that work to new audiences.

In June and July this year, for example, Big Spaceship posted over 20 new projects on its Behance profile to see what would happen. The results, the agency said, were surprising. In one month its projects were viewed almost 80,000 times, and Behance was the biggest source of referral traffic to BigSpaceship.com at over 50,000 referrals. In fact, Behance was the third largest traffic source behind direct visits and Google referrals, and directed over 11 percent of all traffic received that month.

But agencies aren’t the only ones getting a lot of attention on the site. As per Belsky’s mission, creatives themselves are building large followings and profiles for themselves, which could ultimately lead to brands approaching them directly, he suggested. That sounds like bad news for agencies, which would typically charge brands a clients for finding that talent, but Belsky said they could ultimately use the platform in a similar way down the line,

“My understanding is agencies hate paying headhunters and finding and retaining creative talent. Agencies are good at having clients, and account people, and the big idea people. Perhaps this could allow them to work with a roster of the best creatives in the world instead of just who they can hire. I feel like so far we’re complementary.”

So far most agencies don’t appear to see Behance as a threat to their business, or at least not one that outweighs the benefits. Some are even using Behance’s technology to power their entire Web presences, including Leo Burnett NY and Bruce Mau Design.

But Belsky said his goal is not to power agency websites, but to connect them. “Every creative individual and team needs their own place on the web, but i think it shouldn’t exist in isolation. It should all be connected.”