The rise of social knowledge


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I was giving a talk the other week about the impact of social media on customer service and touched on the idea of knowledge, more specifically around the idea of knowledge ownership. Social media is doing its best to break down the traditional walls of ownership. We are seeing knowledge move outwards, away from the company and into the hands of its customers and people in general, and from there taking on a life of its own. A company is no longer even the keeper of its own knowledge. Twitter and YouTube are becoming de facto knowledge bases. Wikipedia, perhaps the most well-known example of crowd-sourced knowledge. In Twitter we trust! What is the implication for companies of the emergence of knowledge that is far more social, transitory, shared, participatory, collaborative, convenient than ever before?

We all have the opportunity and the tools to become self-proclaimed experts on any topic we choose. Even from a customer service perspective, who better to trust if you have had a problem with a company, than someone who has recently been through that same problem themselves. You can bypass going to the company itself for help.

An interesting counterpoint to this, however, is Best Buy’s Twelpforce. Best Buy customers have direct access through the simple, yet incredibly powerful, use of a hashtag – #twelpforce – to over 1,200 Best Buy product experts within the company. Is this Best Buy’s attempts to reclaim its knowledge?

It’s an interesting conundrum. By actually opening up yourself in this way, by becoming more accessible, are you in reality reclaiming far more control over what it is you fear losing by the idea of opening up?

I remember reading in The Metro a few weeks ago their 60 second interview with Ashton Kutcher. They asked him: It seems odd that you share pictures of Demi in a bikini when celebrities are so protective of their privacy these days?

He replies: You can take control back in your relationship with the media. You can dictate your own view. My ability to self publish has resulted in a big reduction in strangers following me around with cameras.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Guy Stephens
Guy is a social customer care trainer/consultant who has been in the social customer care space since 2008. He is also the Co-founder of Snak Academy, which provides online social customer care microlearning for individuals and SMEs.


  1. Guy –

    Great post, very thought provoking,

    As one of the principles behind the scenes of Twelpforce, I can tell you that the main thing we want to do with the initiative is to maintain our relevance with customers. I think it’s awesome that tools allow anyone to share their opinion, or make a how-to video, but sometimes you need more to go on before you make a big decision, fix something yourself that you’ve only got once chance to fix, or even make a large purchase with real, hard earned money. By opening up our @twelpforce feed to customers, we’re providing access to 2,500+ people that can validate your decision, or steer you towards a comfortable choice. We’ve even helped with algebra homework…:)

    Relevance. It’s a simple word, but unless you’ve found that certain something that people find valuable, you don’t really have any. We know the service isn’t perfect, but there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge stored in our employees, and hope is that by proving unlimited access to that knowledge, we’ll earn that relevance one interaction at a time.

    Thanks for sharing,
    John (@bernierjohn)


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