By Katherine Rivera
On the tenth day, Katherine Rivera shares social and digital media trends she observed throughout 2020, as well as where legal marketers may be spending more of their time — and dollars — online in 2021.
What was on your bright side of 2020, both personally and professionally?
Like most (or likely all) of our Social & Digital Media SIG members, I found 2020 to be a year of enormous challenges. That’s not to say that it was all bad, though — 2020 was a year of tremendous growth for me, both personally and as a marketer.
I became a mother in April and gained a new perspective on what matters most to me. I’m also focusing on actively carving out time for myself and spending time in ways that make me feel whole. Mental health is now more important to me than ever, especially after facing the new challenge of parenthood during quarantine without family or friends being able to help out. I’m encouraged by the continued conversation in our industry and the awareness that we need to be more proactive about taking care of ourselves and each other. I hope this year will bring the space we need to breathe, refocus and recalibrate from every angle.
Professionally, I’m proud of how my team members and I stepped up to the challenge of managing a much higher-than-usual volume of content that needed to reach our clients and prospects. As we dealt with the onslaught of thought leadership to help businesses through the pandemic, we relied on social media channels to get the word out. I learned new skills, such as editing video, in the midst of it all. Many sink-or-swim moments forced me to get out of my comfort zone, which is something I’m grateful for in retrospect.
How did the pandemic change how you, your attorneys and/or your firm's approach social media?
Like other law firms, we saw a promising increase in social media engagement and website traffic. However, as pandemic-related content began to slow and turn into more of a regular stream of news, we were able to catch our breath and really think about what content should look like going into 2021. We’re aiming to be as thoughtful and strategic as possible, which for me looks like being in the (virtual) room with attorneys and government relations advisers as much as possible when we’re talking about how to ensure content and ideas reach the right people. That’s where I can be most effective, and the pandemic has allowed me the flexibility to be present in more meetings and discussions than ever before.
Last year’s unrelenting stream of social media content also made me more aware of the language I use in posts and in the headlines I write. We’re all more exhausted than ever, and the last thing we want to read is “in these unprecedented times” or similar worn-out phrases over and over again. Instead, I focused on language that spoke directly to our intended audiences, using keywords and phrases that we hoped would catch their attention. I’m carrying that mindset into this new year.
As we look ahead to 2021, what are you most excited about with regards to the legal social/digital space?
I think we’ll see more law firms align their social media and digital media strategies, including social media ad buys, with business development goals for a specific client base. This will appear in the form of efforts to target industries and companies, along with more actions that coordinate with different parts of the sales funnel. It’s no longer “if we’re going to do social media ads;” it’s “we are going to do highly targeted, strategic social media ads to further our business goals at X stage of our client relationship.”
Larger firms have the resources to do this well and have been doing it well for some time. Several rock stars in smaller firms are approaching this with data in mind, and they know how to build impressive, effective campaigns. I’m looking forward to learning from my peers who are setting the bar in this area.
This push to be more strategic with social media is becoming imperative — content saturation is real. It will take more for firms of all sizes to stand out on social media and reach their desired audiences. A more strategic approach to content creation allows us to be more effective marketers. As a bonus, it also allows us to flex our creative muscles a bit.
Another trend I’ve been seeing is conversation among different LMA SIGs about tools to create digital brochures, landing pages and other highly customized digital content. I expect we’ll see personalized content increase through the use of integrated CRMs and email marketing systems, digital experiences we create on the web and social media targeted to niche audiences with specific interests and business needs.
I’m excited to see what my fellow social media managers come up with this year, although I suspect I won’t see a lot of those efforts because they’ll be so well targeted to their firms’ clients, and I’m simply not in that audience! Really, I’m interested in hearing about innovative and cool things people are doing online, and I hope we continue to share those things with each other through LMA.
Tell us a little about your SIG/committee/task force. What are your primary goals for 2021?
It’s my honor and privilege to serve as Social & Digital Media SIG co-chair with Meghan Spradling this year, and we already have some exciting things in the works for 2021.
We’ll be collaborating with other SIG leaders, LMA committee leaders and SIG members to build out a year of programming that resonates and helps people do their jobs better. Social media touches nearly every aspect of marketing and business development for law firms, and I’m excited to dig into how firms are using social media to support diversity and inclusion efforts and increase transparency, to name a few.
As the new year begins, I look to the past with gratitude for all the voices and brilliant minds that have shaped the Social and Digital Media SIG, as well as LMA leadership. We’ve come so far as an industry, and we’re on the brink of some truly exciting things in the social and digital media space. Here’s to a joyful, balanced and creative 2021!
Katherine Rivera has spent her career helping lawyers and law firms reach clients and prospects through various forms of communications. She is currently the marketing and communications manager at Adams and Reese LLP in New Orleans where she works with attorneys and her firm to establish thought leadership and expertise, always keeping an eye on business development goals. A writer and editor at heart, Rivera is an Oxford comma enthusiast who also loves branding and design.