Every birder should have 5000 birding friends on Facebook. Day 6. Social Media for birders.

How to add birders from all over the world as friends on Facebook.

Birding Facebook Friends on-line!

Birding Facebook Friends on-line!

On the last delivery of Social Media for Birders we dealt with Facebook Groups. The reactions to the post on my Facebook profile (no comments on the actual post so far, please leave your comments!), was that Facebook groups are quite lame.

  • They are impossible to follow effectively, as one has to enter the group to see if anything new has been posted. (Although the Group tab on in the left column in Home mode somewhat helps if you are member of few groups, since new photos and links will have alerts).
  • Many groups have large number of members. Facebook Birders for instance have around 4350 members. Yet, there is very sparse activity often several days pass without posts.
  • Apart from proper photo and link sharing, there are re-ocurring self-promoting spammy posts, links, uploaded videos and photos that give little value to the group.
  • The groups don’t invite to engagement in the present form.

But what if we became Facebook friends with all those 4350 minus the 50 people or so that are obnoxious spammers. Then everything they post would show in the NewsFeed and it would be easier to engage on the topics that interest you.  This fact convinced me that the best way to connect with other birders on Facebook is to collect birding Friends. This is the topic of today’s post.

Every birder could have 5000 birding friends on Facebook.

Facebook has, more than any other non-niche social media present, the potential to interconnect millions of birders worldwide.  We are far from there of course. Looking at the most popular groups for birders and bird photographers there may be at the most 10000 birders on Facebook presently (beginning of 2010).  The numbers of new birders signing on increase every day and it will not take long before the majority of the birders will have a Facebook account.
In contrast to Groups and Pages that allow unlimited number of members or fans, 5000 friends is the max you are allowed to have on your profile.  Here is why collecting birding friends to your Facebook Profile makes sense.

  • Profile becomes like a Facebook group but with much better connectivity. Profile is more inviting to engage, because there is a real person not a brand who is speaking, compared to Pages.
  • Connect with birding celebrities. Most of your birding heroes that are on Facebook still don’t have 5000 friends. Wouldn’t it be great to have the guy that wrote the field guide you are using as your friend on Facebook?
  • Easy to get identification advice from more experience birders. There are always birders who know better than oneself.
  • Local assistance when travel for birds all over the world. Cheaper and better birding trip. I have friends in India, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Colombia and South Africa etc.  Guess who I will be asking for advice when I will travel to these countries.
  • You can find partners to go on a birding trip. If you deal with a local birding outfitter, you can use your network to find other birders to share costs with you. Save thousands of dollars compared to a birding trip with the big birding company!
  • Instant reviews and recommendations when you want to buy optics, cameras, gadgets or bird books.
  • Great, fast network for bird conservation campaigns. Conservation minded birders and nature lovers will become more connected than ever for urgent actions. ProAct campaigns will become extremely powerful in the interconnected community.
  • If you have a blog or a bird photo web-page you want visitos to, 5000 birding friends on Facebook would mean more visitors to your page.
  • If your business is birding related…..well obviously 5000 birding friends is not bad, as you will be able to engage with potential customers. Just don’t be a jerk shoving your products down their throats. Business have to learn, that in the Social Media room you don’t try to hard to sell, but instead try to be their for the community. The more you give and share, the more friends, supporters and good karma you get. In the end it will come back to you!

How to get 5000 birding friends on Facebook in five steps.

These are the different strategies I have used. I am still half way from the maximum.  It takes time to build friends and it is not an overnight thing. One little observation – The number is not so important. It is what you do with your friends that is important. You have to nourish your friends. More about that later. If you have a mixed account with birders and non-birder friends you could organize all your friends in lists. Then when you do updates, you can choose if you want everyone to see the updates or just certain lists.

1. Invite those people you already email.

In the right column two sections from the top, there is a blue “Find Friends” button which you click. If you use Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo it is quite easy to let Facebook search for the people you have email at one time or another. You have to give permission to do so, but it really no security risk to do so as you are not giving your password to Facebook, but rather the mail provider holds the password, but gives permission to Facebook to make an automatic search.

WARNING. When this is done a new page pops up with all the emails of your contacts that yet don’t have a Facebook account. DON’T SEND THIS INVITATION.  You would be sending invitations to a bunch of people you may not know well, as well as to all listservers you are subscribed to. When testing the “Find Friends” function I accidently pressed the wrong button, and later got a very angry mail from a birder I don’t know, and had to apologize to a few birding lists I am on. Save yourself the embarrassement.  Only send invitation to people still not on Facebook that you really know well. And a part from sending the impersonal invitation, also hit your friend with a regular email explaining what it is all about and what you like about Facebook.

2. Facebook want you to connect with others!

Contrary to what Facebook was in the beginning, a network of close friends, it has not grown to become a more open network, where you also interact with people you don’t know well, but maybe share an interest or a hobby with.

How to invite more friends to Facebook

How to invite more friends to Facebook

This is how you go about:

  1. Make sure you are in the home mode, and look at the right bar.
  2. You may already have some friend request. I open 10 at the time holding down Ctrl so each open in a new tap in the browser. You want to make sure that the person requesting to become friends with you shares your interest.  So do check them out. If I accept I usually leave a note on the note on the new friends note thanking for the friend request. But don’t spam your new friend’s wall with self-promoting links
  3. Facebook also make suggestions. In general I don’t except brands as friends. They should have a fan-page instead. The smart way for businesses is to become profile friends first because of the shared interest (in this case birding) and the later gain a fan to the page once there is a relationship.
  4. Open each suggestion to see who is behind it and what interest you share. Sometimes it will be hard to know if privacy settings are high, but if your share many friends this is a good indication that the suggested person is also a birder.
  5. Always include a message with the request. Below is my standard note. I manually alter the first name, so it becomes somewhat personal and add my name at the bottom. I also include the person into lists. I have a general list for birders and other lists from the country or region of the friend.
Always send a message when your send a friend request on Facebook

Always send a message when your send a friend request on Facebook

3. Search groups and pages for more friends

When you have run out of suggestions from Facebook, you could actively start looking for friends on groups, pages and check out your friends of your friends. This will be the fastest way to increase your friend number. Just click on See all on members, fans or friends and you get a pop-up that looks something like this:

Add as Friend on Facebook

Add as Friend on Facebook

I don’t send friend request right away, but open each profile that is not yet friend with me (again with Ctrl pressed to open several at once). I send requests to those birders that share a few friends with me and that are obviously birders. Look at quality, rather than quantity.

4. Don’t be an ass on Facebook

  • It is better to send invitations to birders that already have a lot of friends in common with you than totally new birders with only a handful of friends. New Facebook birders who don’t know you, may still not understand why he/she should want to become friends with a total stranger.
  • If you send requests to a lot of people at once, it may happen that Facebook registers your activity and will send you a note questioning your activity. You will want to slow down on the speed you are adding more friends. Remember, you also have to nourish the new friends. Some will write you and you need time to answer.
  • Don’t spam the wall of your friends with self-promotion.
  • Stay away from apps….they spam the walls of your friends. Don’t send virtual flowers, wine, beer and kisses etc. If you absolutely have to post a picture on someone’s wall for a birthday or Christmas, let if be one of your own pictures.
  • Some people on Facebook, may not want to become friends with you. Respect that! (Note in the WARNING above that I totally blew it with my accidental Facebook invitation to my entire email list of email contacts! Anyone  of the receivers reading this, please accept my apologies)

5. Keep and nourish your friends.

Here are a few tips how to nourish your friends. There is no point in having 5000 friends if you don’t make an effort to be there for them.

  • Check your Most Recent Live Feed often (in Home mode). Also make sure to click Edit Options at the bottom of that page to set your number of friends to 5000. If not only feeds of  250 friends chosen by Facebook will show in Most Recent. You want to see all here.
  • Make a list of the friends that comment and like your posts. They have seen you, and you want to keep on engaging and build a relationship with those that care about you.
    Here is how to make a customized feed. Open two parallel pages. One with you profile, so you can see who has commented or like you posts, and the other one after clicking friends in the left column in Home mode, at the top you will see Create List. Then keep selecting those that comment on your page.
  • Use NutshellMail to get daily (or maybe several daily) summaries of your Facebook activity. Here you can select certain lists you want to monitor. It is a way to fast overview your Facebook. Facebook can be a time sink. This way you can turn it off, and come back to it at a certain hour.
  • Always send a birthday wish to your friends and include his/her first name. This means at least once a year you are actively connecting with your friend. It does not have to be elaborate. It does not even have to be on time. The important thing is that it is sent. Nutshell mail also helps you remembering the birthdays.
  • Remember the Social Media mantra. Listen. Engage. Share. Simple rules to live by.


  • Quite obvious. Make some more friends on Facebook!
  • Your tips how to nourish your friends? Comments below, please!.
  • Your tips how to not be an Ass on FB? Comments below, please!
  • You still have not let me know what your favorite Facebook groups are in the last post? Let me know!

Previous posts in Social Media for birders

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Photos by license of creative commons:  Linda Tanner (Starlings at Dusk)

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