Swing and a Miss; A-Rod’s Tweet Angers the Yankees

Call it another strike in Alex Rodriguez’s clumsy efforts to cleanse his reputation. It’s also a cautionary tale about the proper use of Twitter when you’re a salaried employee.

The New York Yankees slugger—who has been sidelined with a hip injury since the start of the season—on Tuesday tweeted that his hip surgeon cleared him to play in rehabilitation games. 

"Visit from Dr. [Bryan] Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news - the green light to play games again!" Rodriguez tweeted.

That didn’t sit too well with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who told ESPN.com: “You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something (we will).” He added, “Alex should just shut the [bleep] up.”

Cashman recently said Yankees doctors have not yet cleared A-Rod for minor league rehab games, according to reports.

The dustup underscores how brands need to be extra vigilant when enforcing their social-media policy. Otherwise, they could face criticism that not everyone is on the same team when it comes to what is (and isn’t) appropriate content about the brand or its employees. And A-Rod, despite being a zillionaire, is a Yankee employee.

Of course, the soap opera that is the New York Yankees is sui generis. But A-Rod’s tweet is a legitimate reminder for brands of every stripe to make sure their social media guidelines are clear.  

As social media evolves, so too will corporate social media policies. But the following should be staples of any social media policy:

1. Appropriate use of channels: When it first started, Facebook was generally considered a depository for describing that decadent hamburger you just had for dinner. But in the last few years, Facebook has morphed into legitimate marketing vehicle. Decide what information is best suited for Facebook and Twitter. In the case of LinkedIn, take the time to discern which information will maximize discussion, sharing and lead-gen (since LinkedIn has a strong appeal to the business class).

2. Language: While it’s a folly to try and clamp down on how your employees use their flair for language, which, let’s face it, is the whole idea of social media, there are policies you can put in place that forbid employees from using foul language, racial epithets or guttural terms.

3. Proprietary data: You need to decide what company information is strictly off-limits and be very clear on what are the repercussions for employees who don’t comply. You want your employees to be as transparent as possible about your products, services and corporate culture, but you don’t want to spoon-feed your competitors either or give them any hints about what’s in the pipeline.

What do you think? What are we missing?

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1.

1 Comment

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  • Sandy Goldberg

    Not that I’m the biggest A-Rod fan, but what he posted looks like an honest mistake that was from someone who was excited about his results from the doctor and his personal health. While I get your point, it also should be pointed out that the GM Brian Cashman’s response was inappropriate. It’s just as bad to go to a media outlet and refer to an employee with an expletive as it is to Tweet or post something private. Employees should follow social policy, and employers should respect employees and deal with these issues privately.