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Jul 3 / King Kaufman

Social media and your profile page: Guidelines to live by

Bleacher Report is growing up. Not only are the site’s traffic and reach growing all the time, so is its reputation. We still make plenty of mistakes, but the writing and video work on the site are better than ever, and improving.

That’s partly a result of B/R raising its standards. It’s harder to be approved to write for Bleacher Report than it was six months ago, when it was harder to be approved than it had been six months before that, and so on.

We’re trying to raise the standards in other ways too. We’d like all Bleacher Report writers to present themselves professionally, not just on the site but on Twitter and everywhere else they appear online.

Wherever your name appears online, you are representing yourself. Unless you use pseudonyms, you can’t separate yourself into different personae. You’re always you, and if you represent yourself as, say, a rude, drunken lout on Twitter, you’ll find it hard to be accepted as a smart, sober analyst on Bleacher Report.

In other words: They used to tell us that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. It was an empty threat. But as my friend Mike says, there really is a permanent record nowadays. And you’re looking at it whenever you go online.

Bleacher Report asks that if you want to use the B/R platform, you respect B/R’s guidelines about self-presentation on the site and on social media.

That said, don’t be scared off. The guidelines aren’t very strict. We’re not going to ask you to stop being your inimitable, rambunctious self.

As I wrote in last week’s post, our standard is that you should present yourself on social media as if you were representing Bleacher Report as a sports industry professional at a conference. You wouldn’t hurt anybody with a little mild swearing, but you wouldn’t drop F-bombs left and right. You wouldn’t make salacious jokes.

Here are some topics about which you should stop and think before posting about on social media: sex acts, race, politics and social issues, nationality, sexy people, Bleacher Report itself, Bleacher Report colleagues, corporate brands and B/R competitors.

Before you tweet or post about it, ask yourself: How will this reflect on me as a Bleacher Report writer? And how will that, in turn, reflect on Bleacher Report?

We’re not asking you not to talk about, say, politics. But if you disagree with someone, do so in a civil manner, like a writer, rather than rudely and profanely, like an internet troll. And remember: Your audience, almost always coming in in the middle, can’t distinguish your joking criticism from a real attack.

Bleacher Report certainly encourages you to engage your followers in fierce and spirited sports debate, and to indulge in posting on social media about non-sports topics like the well-rounded human beings you are. We just want you to do so in a way that encourages your audience to still take you seriously when you’re writing for B/R.

Another way to appear professional—or unprofessional—is on your Bleacher Report profile. Do you have a good photo that focuses on your face? You should. That long shot of you and your sweetie at the beach two summers ago, or of you doing a kegstand last weekend, or of your favorite athlete or team logo, makes you look like a wannabe.

Does your bio briefly tell the reader about who you are and what you write about? It should. Save the taunting of enemy teams and other juvenile ranting for the barstool or the grandstand.

Ask yourself: If the producer of a TV or radio show were interested in booking me to come on and talk about a piece I’ve written, would he or she still call me after looking at my B/R profile page?

A final note about photos: You may have noticed that Google now displays authors’ Google+ photos next to their stories in search results. If you have a Google+ profile and you write about Tim Tebow, Google will illustrate your story in search results not with a picture of the quarterback, but with your main Google+ image. For that reason, that image should also be a professional-looking shot.

That doesn’t mean you have to go get a professional photo taken. But the photo should be a good “mug shot,” a close-up of your face. And as long as you’re going to take a photo like that, why not comb your hair?

  • Karlo Silverio Sevilla

    “Here are some topics about which you should stop and think before posting about on social media: sex acts, race, politics and social issues, nationality, sexy people, Bleacher Report itself, Bleacher Report colleagues, corporate brands and B/R competitors.” And religion.

  • Maxwell Ogden

    Very helpful piece. Thank you for this!

  • Waterdancer1

    I agree with the general premise of your blog. However, the Swagger does exactly what you are asking us to avoid. Case in point – . Was it offensive to the women who write for B/R? I expect that’s a case by case point, but for the fact Salon picked it up and rammed it down our throats, making it difficult to turn a blind eye to the matter.

    If in fact Time Warner does buy B/R, (or anyone else for that matter) it is my personal hope they drop the salacious articles. They do nothing to advance women as pure athletes.

    Or is the 1.3M reads that article got more important to the bottom line?

    Grow up is good advice.

  • Vinny Hardy

    Good info for sure.

  • Kgk914

    Good points, being professional is everything. A Division One college SID told me they check carefully the backgrounds of reporters covering or writing about their teams.