Day 1: Social Media for Birders – How did we get here?

Social Media for Birders. Some background.

BirdersThanks for joining me in the Social Media event of the year (at least for birders). I start off with some history and definitions as background to build the rest on.  You may also want to check out these two posts introducing the event as they give you some additional background.

Since I noticed that there are relatively few birders that use all the Social Media platforms that we are going to deal with, it makes sense to start off at a beginners level. On the other hand, many bloggers participating in the workshop have excellent knowledge. I ask you to be understanding when I deal with things that are obvious to you. I  appreciate your expertise and hope that you will contribute with your wise comments, to further improve the experience of the participants. Later in the workshop we shall deal with more specific tweaking of the Social Media set-up.  Let the fun begin!

Birders are social. Social Media is natural for birders

Birders have always been using different types of media to connect with each other before the rise of Social Media. Birdclubs announced excursions in their bulletins and newsletters. Friends of birders had a telephone list to announce appearance of rare birds. Answering machines turned into birdlines and pager systems. Cellphones and SMS made it easier to call in and receive birding news. On the internet listservers and later yahoo groups mailing list for local birding popped up everywhere. Special pages and forums for birders where everyone could participate have become among the most popular web-pages the last couple of years.
So with all these specialized social media for birders, why should birders even bother about generic Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter? What we got seems enough! Social Media surely is just a waste of time!
During the 31 days of the course of this workshop I intend to show how generic Social Media is the next big thing for birders and how it can be molded to fit our needs, without taking too much of our time.

Look at Social Media as marketing of a business even if it is not!

Sure, everyone can understand that smart businesses want to make use of Social Media to market their product.  But why should the same rules that applies for business Social Media marketing be of any interest for regular birders? Why should a birder try to get more connections with other birders that he/she does not know personally? What is the point? The birder in general does not have a product to sell! The birder in general is quite content with the small network of birders he/she already knows.

That is true, but have a look at these statements:

  • Every birder wants to become a better birder. We are passionate about learning more.
  • Every birder wants to recruit new birders. We are mostly passionate about trying to spread the “gospel”. We know that birding is about fulfillment -that also is mostly a very healthy hobby – and few things would please us more than to be an inspiration of another human being to become passionate about our passion. One of the most attractive features with the general Social Media platforms is that it can be seen as recruitment grounds for converting non-birders into birders.
  • Every birder wants more effective bird conservation. Bird conservation campaigns should certainly use Social Media as if they were  a business. The same campaigns would gain if the birders were better connected
  • Every birder wants handy advice about identification and travel to see birds. More birding Facebook friends will not hurt you.

Let me ask you again. Don’t you think it would be fantastic to be’ better connected with other birders than you are today? We would become more and better birders.

More birders – More business!

DISCLAIMER: Birding is my business and “more birders” mean more business. (So much for my “altruistic involvement”  in Social Media, huh?)

But “more birders” also means more business for other birding businesses. In Peru for example, more birders (both native and visiting foreign birders)  would lead to more eco-friendly involvement, because conservation and eco-tourism runs very well together. It creates more sustainable resource management and an alternative economy for the local communities.  The threats are deforestation, mining and oil exploits. If every birder took on a mission to try to make more birders, the world would be a better place. Hallelujah!

The three pillars  of Social Media – Facebook, Blog and Twitter – and an outsider for birders: Flickr.

For a business it is essential to have a blog on the home web-page, as this creates content and helps SEO. Facebook and Twitter can be used to bring traffic to you blog. These three pillars are also valid for a birder Social Media novice and we shall treat the three platforms in depth during the workshop. There is one extra leg for any birder that also photograph. Flickr has become the best sharing site of bird photos.

Facebook is the most popular Social Media platform with some 350 million users. Much of this workshop will circle around Facebook as it has most potential to create a large community of birders fast and many birders already have an account. And if you don’t have an account in which you keep in contact with your non-birding friends and family, you should start an account specifically to communicate with other birders.  Facebook has made many changes since I wrote a blog post called  “Facebook for birders“. I plan to update this post tomorrow, but nevertheless you can probably still use the instructions to sign up for an account if you don´t have one yet.

In the next post we shall start tweaking your Facebook account to make it as optimal as possible for connecting with other birders.


  • Get a Facebook account if you don’t have one.
  • Make a presentation of yourself in the comment section with your Facebook link, Twitter, Flickr and Blog URL.

Extra credits: Post a link to this post on your Facebook wall and ask more people to sign-up – and use the Retweet button above if you are on Twitter. I still think we should become 1000 people on this workshop! And yes, I will reciproke with links or tweets to your blogs.

If you still have not signed up for the workshop, which will give you an email notice when there is a new post, please do so below. Set up a folder in your mail program to which you import each delivery to have it handy for future reference.

Photo (birdwatching)  by Albuquerque BioPark on Flickr. License: Creative Commons
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