It’s no secret that social media professionals wear more than one hat. From content creation, community management, customer service, strategy development, copywriting, data analysis and more, the daily to-dos of SMMs can feel overwhelming. Trust me. I’ve been there.

Social teams are vital for a business’ bottom line growth, but their work can often go unrecognized and unsupported. The Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVI: Above & Beyond revealed that 42% of social media practitioners say they need more leadership buy-in to make a greater business impact through social—but only 39% say they have it.


Between Covid-19 and the recent call for brands to take a lead on social movements, the expectations of social media professionals are higher than ever. Not only are social professionals managing rapid change, but when taking on so many responsibilities, burnout becomes a very real challenge.

It’s time to turn the tables on this long-standing narrative for social media managers. It’s time that businesses and leaders of social teams start creating a culture of recognition for the people creating meaningful customer experiences every day. But remember, recognition shouldn’t only come from the top. Creating a true culture of recognition is the job of everyone on your team.


Here are a few ways you can recognize your team and empower them to share more about their own impact.

Learn how your team likes to be recognized

Not all social media professionals are the same. You have to understand what motivates each individual and how they like to be recognized before you can acknowledge them in a way that feels truly meaningful. Some prefer to have more private conversations about feedback, while others appreciate public praise.

Make recognition a regular habit, both privately and publicly. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few questions to spark some inspiration:

  • What is one thing your team accomplished this week? Who contributed to its success?
  • Who took the lead on a recent project?
  • What is one thing you admire about how someone handled a situation recently?
  • How have you seen someone on your team grow professionally?
  • Was this a tough week for your team? How did someone overcome the challenges they faced?

Chances are someone on your team came to mind when answering one of these questions. Show them that both small wins and big wins don’t go unnoticed and try embedding opportunities for recognition and gratitude into your everyday routines like one-on-one meetings, posting in Slack channels and team meetings.

Extend recognition throughout your organization

Recognition within your own team is important, but it’s equally important that your colleagues across the organization have insight into your team’s responsibilities and business impact. Part of building a culture of recognition outside of your immediate team is helping others. Make sure non-marketers know and understand how much work social media managers do on a daily basis.


Here are a few ways you can extend recognition beyond your immediate team:

  • Create opportunities for your team to share their own work: Empower your team to communicate the work they do to leadership and larger groups on a regular basis. If someone on your team drives a campaign or event, encourage them to share the highlights and relevant data with your broader team so that they can build awareness about how their work affects the business.
  • Share recognition beyond small groups: Use larger Slack channels and meetings to share how one of your team members goes above and beyond every day or how they had a large impact on a specific project or campaign. Talk about your team members who have made an impact, even when they aren’t in the room.
  • Nominate your team for internal awards: If your organization has internal awards, take the time to nominate members of your team for the important work they do every day.

Put your team in the spotlight

If you’ve taken steps to create a culture of recognition on your team and within your organization, go one step further by sharing recognition externally. Being recognized as the best in social among other industry experts who share similar experiences, challenges and accomplishments is rewarding in itself, but it will also elevate them in their career and can open new doors down the line.

  • Encourage them to go after their dreams: Tell your team to get out there and share their experience and expertise! Look for speaking opportunities your team can participate in, like Sprout Sessions Digital, or encourage them to be a blog’s guest contributor on a topic they’re passionate about.
  • Break the fourth wall: Put your team in front of your brand’s audience and showcase the faces behind your handles. By featuring them in a Q&A or social takeover, you can humanize your brand handles and give your team facetime with the audience they engage with every day.
  • Nominate your team members and other social pros you know for a Sprout Spotlight Award: Our awards program was created to shine a light on the social creators, community managers and strategists who usually stay behind the handle. All nominations will take place on social, with finalists and winners chosen by our community. Take a look at our  current award and share a few reasons why the social expert in your life deserves a moment in the spotlight across social using #SproutSpotlights.

Do you feel seen? 

For social media professionals, a little recognition can go a long way. Change the way your team is seen in your organization, ensure internal recognition and encourage them to seek external opportunities that will give them a place in the spotlight.

It’s time to show the world what social media professionals are made of. Nominate your team members for a Sprout Spotlight award and encourage the rest of your organization to rally behind you for more nominations!