By Karen Spaeder, VP of Communications, Rallio

Over a year ago, the world was rocked by a global pandemic that changed the way many owners ran their businesses. Forced to pivot in the face of lockdowns and local mandates, franchisees with a brick-and-mortar location implemented new processes, safety measures, marketing strategies and even new lines of business.

As we look toward 2022, there are a few trends you can expect to remain relevant in the new year and beyond. Below is a quick roundup of the top social media trends to know.

#1 People Expect Online Options

Curbside pickup and contactless options became the norm during the pandemic, and they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon. Consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience of ordering online and having items delivered or picking them up without having to exit a vehicle.

Continue promoting these options on social media channels to lure customers to your location, and consider implementing them if you haven’t already. Not only is the pandemic not over, but you’ll be better serving your customer base if you make it easy to order from you.

#2 Reputation Management Is More Important Than Ever

People went online in droves during 2020, a trend that continued into 2021. Although lockdowns and social distancing orders have been lifted in many parts of the country, the urge to go online at all hours of the day is still very much present.

This also means that people may be interacting more with brands or local shops online — commenting on social media posts, messaging the business, and leaving online reviews. Stay vigilant in responding to customers’ feedback so you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks.

#3 Virtual Formats Are Still Popular

As the world reopens, many businesses are getting back to in-person experiences. However, in terms of social media, there’s still an opportunity to connect with your online audience.

Many businesses shifted to virtual events, classes, happy hours and virtual tours and promoted them on social media. In the process, they discovered they were able to connect with audiences just about anywhere. For certain business models, virtual offerings enable connection with a whole new customer base.

In other cases, virtual formats could mean simply making use of live video, social media stories and Instagram Reels. Video continues to be a popular method of engaging users’ attention as they scroll through their feeds. It’s also perfect for local businesses such as a barber shop that can’t exactly perform their services virtually but still need a way to reach local customers.

#4 Influencers and Employee Advocates Can Help Spread the Word

Did you know people are more likely to trust the recommendation of a third party over the brand itself? Here’s where influencers and employee advocates come into play.

With employees, you can spotlight them on social media and even engage them in the process of posting. Empower employees to share about your brand by providing brand-approved content, and encourage them to share their own in-store photos and videos.

With influencers, you can work with micro-influencers who have a smaller following and will be happy to share about your brand in exchange for free products or services.

It’s likely we’ll see more trends unfold as we get closer to 2022. For now, however, keep implementing the strategies above — and always keep your eye on the trends coming down the pipeline.

Karen Spaeder is the Vice President of Communications at Rallio, a SaaS company providing a powerful combination of social technology and local agency. Learn more about Rallio here.