The quick answer is “No, you don’t.” But as you would expect, it’s more complicated than that. You do own your online reputation, to the degree that you are actively tracking and managing it. There are solutions out there, such as Evolve24 or Visible, that help you manage what is being said about you and your brand, and there are companies that are reacting instantly to their unsatisfied customer. I noticed a guest post this morning on ChrisBrogan.com on this topic, and it contrasted and meshed interestingly with another article written about Cash4Gold from Insider Marketing. First, let’s look at a case of active reputation management by SanDisk in the guest posting. A single grumpy tweet on Twitter was picked up by SanDisk and immediately responded to. What did this result in? A customer issue, resulting in bad sentiment, responded to quickly with a satisfactory response by the company, resulting in a larger amount of positive sentiment. “My original gritching about my old player reached my 600+ followers. When I tweeted about the replacement and SanDisk’s customer service, the news was retweeted to thousands.” Not only that, but SanDisk is now also attached to a guest posting on a very visible blog praising their attentiveness to their customers and their active reputation management. The quick, customer-service driven response allowed SanDisk to manage their online reputation and avoid any additional negative reactions. Cash4Gold appeared to go a different route in managing their online reputation. They noticed their “product” was shed in a negative light by a blogger and they tried this tactic – ask the blogger to lessen the blow and at the same time offer a monetary donation (to him or a charity of his choice) in return for removing the negative phrases. Ironically, that approach brought more attention to the apparent negative sentiment of the company and they may need to think hard about their approach. In any case, it is clear that consumers, influencers, tweeters, and bloggers all hold some control in the reputation game. The tools exist for tracking their input; it is up to you to find the way that works best for you in responding to that sentiment before it does more damage than good.