by Razor Suleman | December 01, 2010
The rapid growth and popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is staggering. Just take a look at the recent user statistics:

• There are more than 500 million active Facebook users worldwide, and the average user has 130 friends.
• There are 106 million accounts on Twitter, and the number of Twitter users increases by 300,000 each day. 
• LinkedIn has over 85 million professionals, and a new member joins the network approximately every second.
 
Social media provides a powerful tool for building an employer brand online. A social recognition strategy can help employers tap into their employees’ social networks to attract top talent. Given that employee referrals are one of the best sources for finding top performers, the ability to get the word out via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook can drive successful recruitment efforts. 

What Is Social Recognition?
Employee recognition is based on the understanding that, in order to motivate and engage employees, organizations must regularly recognize their efforts and achievements. Robert Half International, the nationwide staffing firm, recently conducted a survey of why people leave their jobs and found the number one reason to be a lack of praise and recognition.

A paycheck isn’t a thank-you. In fact, a paycheck is a contractual obligation for doing one’s job, while recognition is the appreciation for having done that job well. Effective managers recognize their employees’ contributions both one-on-one and publicly. The public element is where social recognition comes into play. 

Social recognition is about putting a mechanism in place within your organization to facilitate easy social interaction and the public sharing of recognition between managers and peers. An effective social recognition strategy has both an internal and external dimension.

Internally within your organization, a Web-based rewards and recognition solution can provide the means to communicate and share recognition with the entire company using a Facebook-like newsfeed. For some managers, recognition doesn’t come naturally. An online solution that makes it easy to provide public recognition can go a long way toward helping managers overcome any awkwardness or reluctance to recognize their employees' efforts. Peer-to-peer recognition allows employees to recognize and reward one another, regardless of title, seniority, or department, contributing to a sense of teamwork and helping to build a culture of recognition. 

Because the recognition is visible to everyone in the company, it helps foster better cross-company communication and collaboration. When someone in finance or sales can read online about how a recognized employee in shipping is going above and beyond, it helps promote a broader sense of teamwork and a great awareness of how the many moving parts of an organization fit together.   

Tell the World How Great Your Company and Your Employees Are
Now imagine if you could give your employees the option to share the online recognition they have received with their own social networks with a single mouse-click. Employees simply select which of their social networks they wish to share the recognition they’ve received on (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or all of the above), and instantly their entire network has access to it.

The employer wins because he has free access to some of the most-trafficked sites in the world and has the ability to automatically make the corporate logo visible as part of the recognition update. The updates can also link back to the employer’s site, where a webpage provides a more detailed description of why the employee was recognized. On this webpage, the employer can include a customizable banner ad to drive recruitment or general company awareness campaigns. The banner ad might highlight an upcoming career open house, current open positions, a community outreach initiative or any other theme that human resources deems relevant to potential candidates. 

Reaching the Right People
To attract the right people, you have to reach them using their preferred methods of communication. Today’s workforce is increasingly age-diverse. 

A social media strategy can create new opportunities for employers to attract and engage younger talent by using the communication method they find meaningful. By tapping into your existing employees’ social networks, you can establish your company as an innovative, forward-thinking organization to which workers want to belong. 

By extending your existing online reward and recognition initiatives to incorporate a social recognition component, you can reach beyond the walls of your organization to grab the attention of top talent. 

With an effective social recognition strategy, you just might see your recruitment efforts and employer brand go viral!   

Razor Suleman is the CEO and founder of I Love Rewards, a provider of Web-based employee reward and recognition, sales incentive, and service award solutions. I Love Rewards works with top employers across North America to recruit, retain, and inspire employees, and drive results most important to business success. For more information, visit  www.iloverewards.com.