Earlier this week, Yammer announced Klout would become one of its 60 integration Yammerpartners, allowing employees to publish public Klout scores and areas of expertise to their profiles, and admins to set up internal scores based on employee activity. This is arguably the most visible announcement connecting social media influence and organizational communications. As such, there’s been a lot of speculation and discussion (the Mashable article alone has almost 2,000 shares).

Personally, I am not the biggest fan of Klout’s methodology in determining influence, as complete automation has significant limitations (fair disclosure: digital analytics is a WCG core competency, particularly influencer identification). But if this new feature gains significant traction, organizations wKloutill have to turn their ambassador/influencer programs inward on themselves, and realize the true value of analytics for internal communications.

So as Yammer nears 8 million registered users, the WCG Corporate & Strategy team proposed a few benefits, limitations, possibilities, concerns and questions surrounding the partnership between Yammer and Klout:

  • Group Director Vicky Lewko – The benefits depend on how companies roll out this new functionality, and the context that they provide. We work with companies measuring their employees’ social footprint as part of job performance metrics. It isn’t that far of a leap to see internal functions doing that as well.
  • Manager Stephen Yoon – This kind of high-profile partnership could be useful in shifting opinions of communicators to look toward analytics in internal comms, realizing something like this can be useful when developing internal engagement programs. That being said, I feel Klout scores have gaps and lack perspective, particularly around connections, and have the ability to be gamed by sheer volume. But the identification of subject matter expertise could prove valuable.
  • Director Jack LeMenager – Will the presence of Klout and employee awareness of it encourage or discourage involvement in internal social media? In some minds, it can impart the feel of Big Brother.
  • Associate Blair Mikels – I’m playing the healthy skeptic. To me, tweaking motivation to align purely with some sort of “score” isn’t promoting the quality of engagement between teams and individuals, just the quantity. I fear employees may begin posting just to keep themselves on the organization’s radar.
  • Managing Director Nancy Fitzsimmons – I think corporations and employees may see this as a double-edged sword. On one hand, an organization now has a lens into often hidden workforce interests and expertise. More cynically, many corporations remain fearful of how employees use social networks, and this could result in a rash of new policies and guidelines intended to protect the corporation, but having the unintended consequence of limiting employee speech and privacy.
  • Director Molly Rabinovitz – At first, employees may think: Why should I care about my Klout score … what does this do for me if it rises? But that’s not the issue. It’s culture. Companies need to drive the use of any desired platform through cultural change, helping employees recognize its value for their daily lives and business.
  • Global Analytics Director Andrew Tucker – Diplomatically speaking, increasing organizational awareness for the benefits of internal analytics to achieve business goals is a good thing – Klout notwithstanding.
  • Finally, Practice Leader Gary Grates posed the underlying question being considered by communicators everywhere: Will this new functionality help unlock the restraints currently placed on employees participating in social spaces? Will it allow for a whole new level of engagement, recognition and contribution?

What are your thoughts about the Yammer/Klout partnership? What kind of impact do you think it could have – positive or negative? Let us know in the comments.

Now, to sign off in the Yammer tradition: “I’m Adam Pedowitz. Today my Klout Score is 51. I’m influential about Social Media, Public Relations, Analytics and Beer.”