Seven Considerations for Thanking Employees Using Social Media

Setting the stage
(Dramatic voiceover)
Carrot on a stick | Employee Recognition

No matter where you work, you’ll deal with employees cycling in and out of the company. They’re unique, but they will have one fundamental similarity: they’re part of a different generation. The younger generation is very close to technology, and they love social media. Even more, they’ll spark the same love for social media in their colleagues. Before long, everyone will love social media – or wait, that may have happened already. Since employees are changing, management styles are going to have to adapt. That includes ways to effectively recognize employees.

This article examines recognizing employees in social media, why it’s important, and how to do it effectively. It does not, however, make an argument for recognizing employees overall. That would be a book – one that I would be happy to write, but not for this particular article.

Will I look self-serving for it?

I talk about employee recognition in external communications and I often get people bringing up press releases – “it didn’t get picked up, and it made us look self-serving.” Well, if you’re trying to earn media coverage for thanking an employee, you probably will look self-serving! Social media, however, is a different channel.

In order to effectively thank an employee, you have to mean it, and you have to tell a story. If in telling that story, you are somehow inauthentic with your gratitude, people will know it. The type of recognition I’m describing is absolutely transparent with no spin. Be sure to talk about what the employee did, how it helped the team accomplish something amazing, and don’t be afraid to show some emotion.

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If you’re wondering what you get for that, recognize that your target audience can read between the lines to see what behaviors your company values, how their dollars are spent, and what culture looks like. It’s the insider perspective that people love to see. Just by being gracious, you may appeal to customers and even prospective employees as well.

The age of the personal brand

In this economic environment, advice is consistent: having a strong personal brand is more secure. It leaves you with something if you’re ever out of a job, and while you’re working it can be really useful too. In any case, it’s also really fun, and totally easy to get started with.

Employer should encourage the personal brand development because it makes the company look better to hire on someone with a strong personal brand. Regardless of job function, there’s a social network to be a part of. Demonstrating strong involvement and a strategic brand makes the company look selective, smart, and like a destination for similar candidates. Employees don’t just represent the brand in daily life; they also do this online! Help them look good by thanking them where they live digitally. If they are honored in front of their entire network (including family and friends), they will be much more likely to positively engage with the brand.

It comes back to the company if employees’ accomplishments are floating around the digital space. If an employee is working to represent you well, reward their accomplishments with a thank you!

Consistency and transparency

This dovetails off the above comment – reward accomplishments with a thank you online, as you would in person. If the social network is a true, transparent representation of the brand, it should include employee stories. Full-disclosure: boring doesn’t belong on social media, so creativity is still important when telling these stories.

Customer focus

When a customer follows your brand online, they’re not looking for a bunch of marketing messages. They followed the brand because they want the whole picture. That includes things like employee recognition, which often tells a story that includes exciting things like process. It’s also really compelling to see happy employees being acknowledged for their accomplishments. Don’t be surprised if you see career inquiries on-the-rise.

How to do it well

Recognition should be strategic, so look for cases where an employee is displaying behaviors that are valuable to the company, or worth encouraging and sharing. Presuming the employee is okay with recognition being public (know this), get the story behind their accomplishments. Like a true journalist, find out what it is that’s interesting about their work, how it relates to the bigger picture, and be sure to include their voice if it’s compelling. If you can do a write-up with images, that’s especially powerful. Public recognition is one of the strongest ways to thank an employee – it says, “I’m proud of my employees and I’m not afraid to show it.”

How to do it wrong

Make sure that you mind the following if you’re going with social media for employee recognition:
Your overall content mix should be preserved and balanced;
Don’t let Marketing messages get in the way of your recognition – you have to be sincere;
Don’t recognize employees in social media if your company hasn’t already communicated its involvement in social media to the employee audience;
Finally, does the employee have social media and want to be recognized there?

Business impact

Recognizing employees can boost engagement, productivity, and customer satisfaction metrics. In short, happier employees perform better at their job – that’s a no-brainer! Some of the most successful companies in the world spend exorbitant amounts of money on employee recognition. Google, for example, shines in this recent article, “The Happiness Machine.

I’m interested in your perspective, readers. What do you think about recognizing employees using social media? I challenge you to think as employers and employees.

Comments: 1

  • Social media and employee recognition – is the personal touch more effective?

    As Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like continue to pervade our personal lives, it would seem to be an obvious step to utilise such tools within the workplace to recognise employees. Perhaps because social media is low-cost, wide-reaching, and because so many people use it to connect with not only friends, but also colleagues, it seems to be a no-brainer for employers to interact with employees where they tend to ‘hang out.’

    Friends and peers could potentially see, comment and congratulate a member of staff, while employers could give a ‘shout out’ via Twitter to a person who has gone the extra mile that day. It’s all good stuff, but is it the most effective way to recognise a person?

    There is a strong argument for retaining the personal touch in employee recognition schemes. A manager that takes the time to leave their desk or work station to give a spontaneous personal word of thanks may find that it has a much bigger impact on the employee than a 140 character tweet. Similarly, a handwritten certificate, presented in person, is likely to be far more memorable than a short email. It is easy to underestimate how important it is to many employees to be praised by the boss personally, especially in front of colleagues, with a short thank you and a round of applause doing wonders for morale and engagement.

    Personal moments are very important in employee recognition, but there is a use for social media in addition to reinforce the face-to-face messages of praise, and broadcast it to even more colleagues and contacts within the organisation. For these reasons, it is important that a blend of the two is maintained.

    Kuljit Kaur
    Head of Business Development
    The Voucher Shop

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