On a Monday evening in late June, Darren Lachtman surveyed the sun-dappled patio of Southern Pacific Brewing, a bar and restaurant in a cavernous warehouse in San Francisco’s Mission District. Beer in hand, he nodded toward Robby Ayala, a comedian and employee of Niche, the social media management agency Mr. Lachtman, 32, founded with a partner last July. Mr. Ayala was one of more than a dozen Niche members invited to the company-sponsored happy hour.
“He got like, 40,000 likes and shares on his last post,” Mr. Lachtman said. (That post featured Mr. Ayala, an affable 23-year old with a kind of frat-boy charm, pouring hot coffee on his bare hand.) “The dog is down there with his 50,000 followers,” Mr. Lachtman went on, gesturing at Biggie Griffon, a pouty Brussels Griffon who sat underneath a pizza-and-cheeseburger-strewn picnic table.