Since I had so much fun (and learned so much) writing last month’s “Tea and Social Media” post, here is Part 2.  First up this month – Facebook!  Facebook underwent some big changes recently, changing their “fan pages” to business pages.  Now people on Facebook just have to “like” your page, instead of becoming a fan, which works better for most businesses.  You can also put a Facebook “Like” button on your website to help spread the word about another way to connect with your business.  But why should you create a Facebook business page if you already have a website?

Simple – the beauty of Facebook is that it’s already a community, and you can tap into it to get referrals and recommendations.  If I see that one of my friends “likes” a particular business that I’m interested in, I’ll go check it out.  And if I’m searching for a business using keywords, and I use Facebook as a search engine (which people are doing more and more), I can see posts from my friends on that topic, as well as business listings.  If my friends recommend a business, I’m much more likely to patronize the same business.

Many tea businesses are already using Facebook.  Among them are Teas Etc., Mighty Leaf Tea, and Steepster, all of which have created active communities on their Facebook pages.  They use them to share tea news, talk with their patrons, and announce new products or specials on their sites.  It’s a great way for tea vendors to find new customers, and for tea lovers to find information about tea and a place to discuss it.

Speaking of having a place to discuss tea, Steepster is an interesting on-line destination for tea lovers.  They describe it as a “connected on-line tea journal,” where tea drinkers can write tea notes or reviews, share what teas they have in their cupboards, and discover new teas by checking out what others are drinking.

I spoke with Jason Roos of Steepster to find out more about the site, and he told me that their primary focus is on the user.  They give members of the community the ability to “follow” others and see what teas they’re drinking, so that it’s easier to find someone whose tastes are close to yours.  This way, he said, the reviews are more “relatable and relevant” to you, which makes sense.  If I found someone whose tastes were similar to mine, I’d be much more likely to try a tea that they really enjoyed.  Jason mentioned that they use other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to update their community on things that are happening on their site, such as their “Steepster Select” partnerships with various tea vendors, where they have special offers for Steepster participants.

Steepster also has a very active community discussion page, where tea-lovers gather to talk about tea-related topics – including one fun thread about a “travelling tea box“, which persons along the tea box’s journey around the globe add tea to and sample tea from.  Now that’s a way to bring tea lovers together in both the virtual and physical worlds!