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.