Many social recognition programs available from vendors operate very similar to Meta/Facebook. You have a social newsfeed where you can add status updates. And you can send themed specific ecards or social badges to celebrate achievements, thank people for their help, reward performance goals reached, and acknowledge colleagues’ birthdays and milestone celebrations.
And there is something else that each of us can do. As we go on to our recognition and reward programs, there is the special opportunity to like the various recognition messages sent and to even add our personal comments.
Does liking and commenting make a difference to people? Is one better than the other?
Let’s explore some research and see if we can extrapolate anything that we can apply in our social recognition programs.
Current Research with Social Media
They have focused most research on the use of clicking on like buttons and adding comments on using the Facebook and Instagram social media platforms. In addition, they focus research on clicking on likes and leaving comments on photo sharing for Instagram and personal status updates on Facebook.
No one has yet done studies on the outcomes of liking or commenting on social recognition programs. Nor have there been studies on people’s responses to liking or commenting messages sent to an individual on the social media platforms versus initiating them themselves.
From the Instagram side, researchers Kseniya Stsiampkousaya, Adam Johnson, Lukasz Piwek, and Carl-Philip Ahlbom wrote in Computers in Human Behavior, on the “Emotional responses to likes and comments regulate posting frequency and content change behaviour on social media: An experimental study and mediation model.”
They examined how likes and comments drove the act of photo sharing on Instagram. They observed how emotions mediate the effects of engagement on the social media platform on posting frequency and changing their content. The emotionality of feeling excited was affected when individuals received likes and comments after posting pictures.
They also observed that account owners changed their content when they felt sad because they did not receive the engagement of others that they expected.
From using Instagram, the researchers determined that the presence or absence of likes and comments directly affected account owners’ posting frequency and their changing of the photo content on the platform.
In another experiment, using the social media platform Facebook, authors Anne L. Zell and Lisa Moeller wrote in Computers in Human Behavior on their study about “Are you happy for me… on Facebook? The potential importance of “likes” and comments.”
Be mindful that they focused this research on the status updates that individuals themselves initiated on Facebook. This is in contrast to someone else sending a recognition ecard or posting a recognition comment to someone.
Here’s some of their interesting findings. Individuals who received more likes remembered their status updates better than those with fewer clicks on the like button. They correlated the level of satisfaction that people had with their status updates with the number of likes their update had.
Individuals receiving more likes and comments were more likely to score themselves with higher levels of self-esteem and happiness.
As far as differences with clicking on the like button compared with leaving a comment, the researchers found this insight. Those individuals who received more comments perceived the people in their Facebook community as more interested and caring.
Implications for Social Recognition Programs
What can we learn from these studies about leaving comments and clicking on likes with your social recognition programs? While there is no direct research on recognition programs or correlation that can be made from the social media platform, one can plausibly suggest the following outcomes will occur.
1. The more comments and likes that people receive on their recognition messages on social recognition platforms, the more positive and important those messages will feel like to the recipients.
2. When individuals receive more likes and comments on their recognition messages, they will more likely feel happier and have higher levels of self-esteem.
3. A differentiating factor observed from the number of comments people receive is that recipients will feel that their peers are more interested in their good news.
I recommend that social recognition programs be as easy to access as a click of the button from your Intranet site. Also, request that your vendor for social recognition incorporate a button or link from your Outlook email platform. Accessibility creates higher opportunities for employees to visit, use, like, and comment on social recognition programs.
Create a communication and education campaign to show everyone in the organization the importance of clicking like buttons and sharing positive, personal comments. Give everyone examples of great comments that have made people feel good about themselves. Show them what you expect, and people will do it.
Instead of wondering whether leaving comments is better than clicking likes, simply think and by doing both.
Recognition Reflection: Do you educate people in your organization to leave comments and click on like buttons with recognition messages?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.