Tweet Ye, Tweet Ye: It’s OK to Promote Your Workers on Social Media

According to a recent survey of 400-plus human resources professionals, 82 percent said their companies do not include social media in their rewards programs. Really? What gives?

September 30, 2013

Only a few years ago, the idea of me building a personal brand via social media seemed as unlikely as Wile E. Coyote catching the Road Runner.

Why would I? I’m not a brand; I’m just a regular person, and not a celebrity. I prefer to stay behind the scenes was my rationale.

Was I wrong. You need to build a brand to succeed on social media.

Many editors, believe it or not, are introverted by nature. We’d much rather do things with a degree of anonymity. The idea of “putting ourselves out there” is either foreign, scary or both.

I know there are people, particularly some top C-suite execs, who have no use for social media. They’re either at a point in their career where they don’t have the time for it, are afraid of unintentionally leaking information, don’t see the point of it or they don’t know the difference between the Twitter bird and an Angry Bird.

However, I would say they are missing a golden opportunity to connect. After attending a half-dozen sessions of Social Media Week in Chicago, it became clear to me that social media, when done right, connects people in ways never thought possible. For instance, most people don’t get the opportunity to pitch their wares on the ABC show “Shark Tank,” but anyone can interact with the show’s entrepreneurs, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, on Twitter. Cuban does a good job of connecting with his followers by retweeting some of them and answering their questions, and understanding the importance of social media to his brand and his company.

Social media is also a great outlet for customer service. Let’s say, on a whim, you tweeted to a fine-dining establishment that you were hungry and wanted some food delivered at the airport, as investor Peter Shankman did a couple of years ago. As a business, you could ignore the request, or you could fulfill the order as Morton’s steakhouse did, and get tons of publicity for the price of a well-cooked meal.

According to a recent survey of 400-plus human resources professionals, 82 percent said their companies do not include social media in their rewards programs. The study conducted by Accelir for Michael C. Fina, a recognition and incentive program company, also found that only 28 percent of those surveyed said a social media rewards program is in the works.

Really? If that’s the case, companies are missing a golden opportunity to promote their brands by promoting their workers’ brands.

Are companies afraid of promoting workers’ brands because they think employees will look to jump ship if they get too much attention? I’m not buying that. A good company looks to build up its employees, not hold them down.

If you want to get an OK from Joe in accounting before blasting out praise into cyberspace, that’s fine. I get it; HR needs to be careful. But my guess is most employees would say, “Go ahead!” They might post it on Facebook or LinkedIn, take a picture of an award and send it out on Instagram or tweet or retweet it to the world with the hashtag #mycompanyrocks.

And why not? As the old saying goes, “Praise in public; criticize in private.” What could be more public than social media? Using social media for recognition really says to workers, "We’re proud of what you accomplished, and we want everyone to know it," which sends out good vibes and good karma for the company, too.

And by the way, old Wile E. finally did catch that Road Runner. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t able to grasp his prize possession. Social media is the same way. If used correctly, it can be a boon to business. If ignored or neglected, you might just be running off a cliff, Wile E. Coyote-style.

James Tehrani is Workforce’s assistant managing editor. Comment below or email Follow Tehrani on Twitter at @WorkforceJames.