In January of 2018, after a 17-year absence, the XFL returned to the national light. It was announced that the infamous league would be returning in 2020. There were many questions when the rebirth was brought public. But after 2 years, the league made its debut on February 8th, 2020 when the XFL played their first batch of games. The reception, so far, has been fantastic and the fans who were waiting for more football after the Super Bowl have been pleasantly surprised with how competitive the league is. A large reason for the massive attention is because of the league’s large social media following that has exhibited rapid growth through a lot of hard work from its leaders.
The man behind the screen
Bailey Carlin has had a unique path to where he is today. Bailey was studying for his Masters of Program Education when he was given the opportunity to work with Sports Illustrated. When this opportunity arose, Carlin dropped out of school to work with the sports publication. During his time there, he was writing articles–mainly about college basketball. After working at SI for a bit, the XFL came knocking on Bailey’s door. Soon after, Bailey was the new Social Media Editor for the XFL. Now, social media editor is just one of those jobs that many young kids are fascinated by. They think “I get to post memes and get paid for it?”. That is not the case at all. There is a lot of hard work to it.
“Being social media editor requires monitoring and running the XFL league social accounts and coordinating with the individuals who run the team accounts to assist in anything they need.” Carlin said.
Being the editor also means you’re on the clock all the time and that your day is never truly over. This is because the XFL never stops, even if no games are being played. This is a result of trades, signings, and press conferences. When we asked Bailey about his daily schedule, he indicated that it is a non-stop job.
“I am on the clock 24/7. At any time I could be needed. I’d say I work about 60 hours a week top to bottom, but a lot of that is done on my phone or out of office. It is a great job, but A LOT of work.”
When the league went live in early February, it was a hit on social media. The mixture of memes and news was perfect. It has also become a fan favorite on Instagram, Twitter, and many other platforms. The XFL, overall, began to gather more and more followers as the games went on and, with that, the “likes” and outreach grew.
? EVERY TOUCHDOWN FROM XFL WEEK 2 ? pic.twitter.com/KvgJQvONEp— XFL (@xfl2020) February 18, 2020
“The success of the league so far has been amazing. Seeing people interacting with and enjoying a product I’ve worked so hard on is a great feeling.”
I had to ask the one question I always thought. How is it possible to do all of that social media content without your phone just freezing up from the mass amounts of likes and retweets? Do you have a separate phone?
“I’d say computer/phone work is about a 50/50 split. I do have a work phone but keep notifications off. Way too much,” Carlin went on to explain to me.
Walking a fine line
It is a fine line to walk when producing content for these major accounts. You want the photos or memes to be good and funny, but you don’t want to cross any boundaries or offend anyone. There is always a lot of second guessing. You also have to make sure it is the right choice when posting something and, when I asked Bailey, he was able to walk through it for me.
“Walking that line is always difficult and every single tweet or post is a judgement call. I think the longer you work in the industry and see how fans respond to your posts and other accounts/organizations posts helps you develop an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. It’s just trying to put yourselves in the shoes of EVERYONE who is going to see your work and guess how they’d react.”
Alongside controlling the online aspects of the XFL, Bailey has had some cool in-person experiences as well. During training camp, he helped assist Pardon My Take host PFT Commenter during his kicking tryouts for the XFL. It was the first time for anyone like that trying to get into the sport and was a hit video on Twitter. Carlin thought it was a great moment:
Had an awesome time with @PFTCommenter and @hen_ease in Houston today.— B. W. Carlin (@BaileyCarlin) January 15, 2020
Absolute dream team to work with. Hoping to do so again soon.
(Sidenote: PFT kicked 90% on kicks I held) pic.twitter.com/huADyupT2K
“PFT and the Barstool guys were a delight to work with. They’re incredibly entertaining and good at their jobs and super considerate. I would love to work with them again.”
Be sure to follow the XFL as they go deeper into their season on Instagram @XFL and Twitter @XFL2020. Also, check out Bailey on Twitter @BaileyCarlin.