There was much consternation ahead of the Jerez MotoGP test, when it emerged that the Factory Yamaha MotoGP team had imposed a new social media policy. Given that Yamaha has perhaps the strongest presence on social media of all MotoGP teams, fans feared that the access they had been given would be restricted.

Apart from riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha also has Alex Briggs, mechanic to Valentino Rossi, Ramon Forcada, crew chief to Jorge Lorenzo, and Wilco Zeelenberg, team manager to Jorge Lorenzo on their payroll, all three popular figures on Twitter.

At the official launch of Yamaha’s 2013 MotoGP campaign, we spoke to Yamaha Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis to ask about the policy, and try to clear up any confusion surrounding the situation. Our first question was naturally, did Yamaha indeed have a new social media policy?

“We have introduced a new policy globally, not only Yamaha MotoGP, but Yamaha Motor as a global operation has introduced a social media guideline,” Jarvis said. “So we have introduced our own one for the MotoGP world as well, which is in line with the global policy.” The goal of the policy was not to limit the interaction between Yamaha staff and their followers on social media, Jarvis explained.

“The target of the new policy is not to per se restrict the amount of information that’s available, but it is to have an agreed framework reference: what should you be doing, what should we be doing. Because this is important as well.”

“I know Alex [Briggs] was indeed one of the very first people who was out there tweeting and giving people information and tips and such, behind the scenes. And I think that’s all valuable stuff. At that time, probably he started five years ago, four years ago at least… [Briggs joined Twitter in October 2009], Yamaha MotoGP didn’t have a Twitter account back then. We do now.”

Twitter itself is just under seven years old, and is a sign of just how quickly the world of communications can change. Jarvis explained that Yamaha were doing their best to adapt to this fast-changing world. “Start, begin, change and evolve, and I think that’s what we’re in now, we’re in an evolution,” Jarvis said.

“We now have our own social media officers, we have many people working in our media department, and now their job, their mission is to generate content, to provide as much behind-the-scenes information as possible to the users. So you know, the policy is not to restrict and block, the policy is to guide. Every corporation needs to guide what’s going on amongst the people that are working for it.”

This is a very important point,” he continued. “Because, I mean, honestly, it’s not only to the people involved in MotoGP, it’s for the people involved in all Yamaha businesses, all operations. Because there are some things that are free and open, but there are other things as an employee, you know, you need to be more sensitive about, in some of the things you might be discussing.”

One part of the problem is that those working in MotoGP do so because they are passionate about the sport, and being passionate about it, they also have strong opinions about it. Ramon Forcada is known for his passionate views on racing, and his willingness and ability to explain the intricacies of racing in various formats. But this can cause a conflict, because the line between the private individual Ramon Forcada and the Yamaha MotoGP crew chief Ramon Forcada is a difficult one to draw.

“That’s the difficulty and the delicacy,” Jarvis acknowledged, explaining that seeing the problems that other companies had encountered on Twitter had made Yamaha’s corporate HQ consider carefully how best to handle social media.

“Talking not so much about the MotoGP world, but if you look at many other environments where an inadvertently misplaced tweet has led to a major corporation having difficulties at a certain time,” Jarvis said.

“Yamaha Motor as a global company has to address that and issue guidelines. So they’re not restrictions per se, it’s guidelines as to how to deal with it. I hope that we can manage it well and still provide the content that’s interesting for the real fans, yet at the same time keep it within the reasonable guidelines.”

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Chance Gray

    Could you send someone over to have a little chat with Circuit of the Americas while we’re on the subject of social media and passion for the sport :)

  • Gutterslob

    Well, whatever they’re doing online, they’re not doing nearly enough. If they were, they’d have a title sponsor, or at the very least a few more small stickers on their bike.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know how the modern day internet works and how trends and whatnot arise (seriously, what does “trending” even mean?!… that a Nascar thing, where everyone drives in a circle?), but there’s undoubtedly huge potential here.

    Yamaha could get a department to aggregates various ‘feeds’ from social media and compile it into a richly curated magazine of sorts (like Flipboard or Feedly), maybe even get a few ads from sponsors on it (magazine style ads, not little ad banners you see on websites). They could also draw from they “back-catalog” of former world champions, getting quotes, interviews, opinion pieces.

    Take fans behind the the closed pit doors, into rider’s motor-homes, inside the Yamaha race factory. The best type of secrecy is convincing people that you’ve got nothing to hide.

    Going off on a slight tangent here;
    One reason European makes are seeing a renaissance is because they’ve embraced the web. I’m not sure about social media here (I don’t have a Twitter, Facebook or whatever), but they at least have some sort of web presence. I’m pretty sure the Ducati and Ducati Fanclub websites get a lot more hits than HRC’s site. Same could be said for brands like KTM (via their link with RedBull) and Triumph. Heck, I’ve owned Yamaha bikes more than any other in my life, but the only time I ever visited Yamaha’s worldwide site was to get a link to my local branch in order to check prices of current models. Jap moto brands are engineering powerhouses, no doubt, but they’ve never been successful at selling a ‘lifestyle’ to the average passer-by. Yamaha and Suzuki could at least depend on Marlboro or Lucky Strike to do some lifestyle marketing for them back in the good old days of tobacco sponsorship, but now they’ve got nothing of the sort.

  • Spamtasticus

    That was the biggest load of Doublespeak I have ever read. I feel sorry for those at Yamaha. Censorship is censorship, no matter what pretty names you paint it with or what interesting titles you give to the censors. Social Media Officers. Good stuff…

  • Spamtasticus


    Ducati was smart enough to find the best Ducati forum, hire it’s manager and founder, and make it it’s official forum. Then they stayed the hell out of messing with something that worked. I have met her and it has paid nothing but dividends for them. She even manages their hospitality islands at US GPs now.

  • “Not to restrict and block, but to guide…” Yick, eh? MotoGP’s debating traction control, but maybe it’s spin control that needs to be eliminated. I’ll be attending the Austin race, but have no desire to actually cover it as a journalist, because I know that every journalist with a media pass will be spoon-fed the same corporate porridge. I can attend any flat track race and come away with better and more compelling stories — not because the riders, bikes, and drama are more compelling (although they are), but because I’m free to actually find the stories, and the riders and mechanics are free to speak to me. The commenter who wrote that if Yamaha had a better social media strategy they’d also have a title sponsor was on the money.

  • pooch

    Yes this smacks of guided censorship, guidelines and approvals as to what each person can tweet. Yamaha should realise how much motogp is loathed for their heavy handed misunderstanding of modern media.

    Then again…if it puts an end to Alex Brigg’s tweets about raking leaves at home, starting his mower etc, then I’m all for it…. ;)

  • JoeD

    Corporations have Confidetiality Agreements. One violation and you are gone. Period. Corporate Espionage-well let’s go to the Suzuki camp and talk about Ernst Degner.

  • pooch

    it’s a pity that Suzuki doesn’t have a camp in MotoGP and ‘secret’ 2-stroke technology is now irrelevant in GP racing… this ‘stolen speed’ was all a very long time ago now.

    Honda seemed to have no problems holding on to their secret gearbox tech for long enough… I don’t think anyone who is fortunate enough to have a place in a team would be tweeting anything sensitive, Yamaha wouldn’t hire anyone that dumb.

    I do like Ducati’s open-ness with regards to social media though, they understand it. Just a pity it was all a waste with the failure of #46 to understand the bike.

  • paulus – Thailand

    It’s a BUSINESS, people!
    The business of selling bikes.
    Social Media affects sales…. (or affects perceptions, which then affect sales).

    The Monster is out of the box and brands now need to control it.

  • Stephen Johnson

    Companies who tell good stories or are part of a good stories will sell motorcycles. “hire a salesperson to be a mechanic, but never a mechanic to be a salesperson”

    Ride Free