Social Media immersion weeks – for birders.

social media logos

Social Media immersion weeks.

This may sound like an oxymoron. I am looking for ways to increase my presence in social media.

WHAT! You have 4500 friends on Facebook, and yet you want to increase your presence in Social Media?

The Facebook algorithm is making it difficult to connect with new people, in spite that I have 4500 friends and 5500 likes on the Kolibri Expeditions Facebook. Those numbers don´t mean anything if the stuff shared does not show in the timeline of people.

I have also seen in many Facebook groups that I admin, that people have stopped sharing interesting stuff and are only interested in sharing their own photos and their own deeds. And if anything really interesting or good does show up very rarely do people take the time to share on their own walls. Most people will only leave a like; a few will leave a comment.

Social Media can be great for marketing yourself or your business. That is no secret. You get exposure. People will see your name. People will see your business. And even many of those who don’t have anything particular to sell, still use it as if it was a one-way communication of traditional marketing. It is as if the social part of Social Media has died to a large extent.

Facebook’s new algorithm is partly to blame, but also because a lot of people, who has gotten into the game late, don’t really understand what Social Media should be and what it certainly could be: A place where we make new discoveries, where we share things that are truly interesting and useful to others.

Facebook is very narcissistic in its structure, and that is fair enough. People should put updates of what they are doing on their personal profile. Close friends would want to know. But It is also about checking out other people and share their interesting stories. When participating in groups, one ought to be “participating” with comments and sharing relevant stories to that group, not only sharing photos from a Facebook Page that you own, as a desperate cry for LIKES!

The point of Facebook is to encourage people to like their images on their page. NOT!

For instance, on one group that I admin (Neotropical Bird Photography), it became so bad, that I had to make a rule, that photos shared to the group should be uploaded directly to the group with some description, rather than a shared post from elsewhere.  One member said he had not time to do that! He said:

The whole point of Facebook for a photographer is to encourage people to like their images on their page, otherwise you are just wasting your time. Facebook makes it time consuming enough now to do this, let alone having to individually post to each group, which is too time consuming.

I replied:

You are mistaken. Social Media is about providing value to others.

If it a user finds it too time consuming, he/she does not really care about the group, but only about his/her own page/profile.

He argued:

I was employed to run a social media website for an international charity, so I think I have some idea regarding how social media is used and also when there is no point in using it.

Then he left the group!

Something else perhaps?

I will get back to Facebook, and I am certainly not closing shop this week (I still need to admin some groups), but I thought I would do a concentrated effort to give other platforms a chance and a fair try-out. Every week, starting on Monday, I shall do a complete immersion in one of the social media platforms, to meet with birders (and others). I challenge you to join me. For each blogpost there will be chance to conversation in the comment section or in the platforms where each week’s focus is. And of course I will share the blogposts on my own profile on Facebook, but it is up to others to share it beyond that. For all I know, I may be talking to myself, but if Social Media is anything that I thought it to be, this may actually become a very interesting conversation. There may well be more than one posts por week, depending on my findings and conversations I have with you. Let it begin!

First out: Linked In.

What is LinkedIn? In simple terms, one could call it a Facebook, without selfies, babies, and puppies. It is meant to show the user’s professional face rather than their private live. One could say it is a more serious endeavor altogether. A lot of my friends have a LinkedIn account, but hardly anyone actually uses it. Why? Because, it is a bit boring to only look at professional profiles. And since hardly anyone of my friends use it for more than just a place to hold their CV, I have found it hard to find engaging conversations here.

LinkedIn is a place for professional networking. Great for job-hunting or to look for competent employees if you own a business. If you are looking for a job or for qualified staff for your project or business you would do well to pick up a book that specifically deals with the best practices and tips to make the most of your account. Check out LinkedIn for Dummies on Amazon (UK link here.)

Still, there is also potential in many LinkedIn groups to engage with people who share a hobby, and once more people check in more frequently, this could be a more rewarding space than Facebook in many ways. I will come back to talking about LinkedIn groups later this week. linkedin-banner

First steps to take to start engaging.

It is actually quite straight forward. First of all, work on your profile. Put up a picture and write your resume. The next step would be to connect to the people you know or those in your professional niche or share your interests. You have probably received a bunch of LinkedIn connect invitations. I had about 300 invitations to connect yet to answer. Some are probably spam, and not of interest to connect with, but it could also reflect the fact that the user has little experience of LinkedIn. I would not want to scare off a potential client, so I usually accept. You may have different needs and criteria.

The principal idea around LinkedIn is to connect with people you know or you have done business with, but fact is that many power users connect with far more people than this.

You will find a lot of people that do not have proper profiles with a photo. (Strange! In this day and age when everyone is so concerned about selfies). Such people are probably of less value to you as it is unlikely they are or will be active on LinkedIn.

Secondly, do let LinkedIn check your contacts to see if any of your contacts are on Linked In. Yesterday, I was amazed to see that there were over 1000 of my contacts with LinkedIn accounts that I had still not connected with. With a click of a button, I could instantly send out an invitation to connect. What a fantastic one time opportunity to engage. Many of these people in my case are past clients, so it is of course of tremendous value as they probably will get reminded of the tour they did with us. Maybe they will get an impulse to think of a new trip or perhaps recommend us to others. In less than 15 hours I had 171 new connections, and the number is rising. LinkedIn does give the possibility to personalize your invitation and it is a good idea to do so.

After having written this post most of Monday, I shall be starting some conversations with my new connections and explore some LinkedIn groups the rest of the week.  One such group, I created when I last immersed in LinkedIn. Birding Professionals. If you work as a birdguide or an educator with birding on the agenda, or in any ways provide products or services to birders, you are welcome as new member to participate and to help get the group out of a quite dormant phase. It does not have to be this way, you know!

Finally, let’s hear it from you. Let us know your experiences with LinkedIn. As a birder or a professional, is it at all relevant? What do you think? What LinkedIn groups do you use? And if you have not done so already, connect with me on LinkedIn.


Gunnar Engblom is a Swedish birder who lives in Peru since 1998, where he operates birdwatching and nature tours for Kolibri Expeditions. He is popular guide both for hard core birding groups, as well as for groups who combine nature and culture. He is also a dedicated 3:14 marathon runner, right now training for Buenos Aires Marathon on October 11.

Connect with Gunnar on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

DISCLAIMER: This blogpost contains an affiliate links of a book I personally recommend. A small percentage is given me as commission if you purchase the book through Amazon.


3 thoughts on “Social Media immersion weeks – for birders.

  1. Susan Treesh

    I am quite interested in this topic; however, I hope you will discuss some of the issues surrounding social media as well as simply describing them. Facebook, as you note, is hopeless fragmented,and unless you are a teenager obsessively checking it every 10 minutes, good luck with finding anything or being able to manage anything beyond a “like.” Yet, your first topic, LinkedIn, involves adding yet ANOTHER platform for people to register, develop a network, and start using. There are at least a dozen more out there, and who has time?

    So, I also hope you will expand your discussion to include online communications media BESIDES social media. My first question: Is (Are?) social media an effective way to have serious, long-running discussions at all? They don’t provide easy ways to search archives, dates, similar topics with varying keywords. I’d like to see a discussion contrasting social media with the much older form of bulletin boards, which provide long term forum/thread organization, plus the ability to roadmap the whole thing with a sticky table of contents. Or listservs.

    In short, how about starting with asking what social media are useful for – and are not useful for?

    1. Gunnar Engblom Post author

      Thanks for the comment Susan. As for LinkedIn, I think it is very useful to have an account and a more or less updated profile, because it makes it easier to be found by someone who is looking for you (providing you want to be found). If you want to promote your professional self LinkedIn is certainly the place to be. As for engaging in the platform, I think doing what I am doing, trying it out for a week to see what ever value it may have and if any meaningful encounters are had. Maybe one can do this in cycles for platforms that have potential to be of interest. When it comes to “marketing” oneself, without being without being pushy, such strategy will not put all eggs in one basket, and one can provide comments and ideas to a wider audience. I should add, as experts of social media testify, that “marketing” oneself is not the same as “self promotion”. On the contrary, you market yourself when you provide value to others.

      I will expand the discussion beyond the new types of Social Media and compare with listservs and forums. I agree with you. The search functions of most Social Media suck. One can not find old comments made or important pieces of information shared.

  2. Pingback: LinkedIn for Birders | Kolibri Expeditions Blog

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