By Chris Lee
There is yet another new social network on the block. Branch is the brainchild of two US students and is backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s Obvious Corp. The aim of Branch is to add increased quality to online conversations and end “empty engagement” by allowing 750 characters-worth of text in any single exchange, meaning conversations on Twitter can go into greater depth.
But is there a need for Branch and if so, is there also an opportunity for marketers? One digital expert who has been following Branch’s development closely is Danny Whatmough, account director at PR agency EML Wildfire. NMK’s Chris Lee caught up with Whatmough for his thoughts on where Branch could go from here.
What’s the key unique selling point for Branch? What niche does it fill (if any)?
In its simplest form, Branch is a place for Twitter users to have more in-depth conversations with each other. You log in with your Twitter credentials and integrations with the micro-blogging platform are linked across the site. But you have 750 characters to play with and conversations are arranged inline so you can see the full thread. It feels a little bit like the comment stream on a blog and you can kick things off with a link to an article or a tweet, or even link to another comment from another branch.
Somewhat ironically, seeing as it has been created by the two guys that founded Twitter, the unique selling point for branch is that it is a place where you can have longer conversations that aren’t restricted by Twitter’s 140 character rule.
What’s your personal experience of Branch been like so far?
The usability is great. The site is clean, simple and pretty intuitive. It’s clearly early days and so, as with all beta sites, the amount of content on the platform is limited at present. Despite this, Branch has clearly targeted a number of “influencers” in the startup and tech industries so you’ll find some discussions on there already from well-known individuals. So even though you might not be an accepted beta user yet, you can still access the site and browse content.
Do we all have time for another social network?
In short the answer is that, no, I don’t think there is space for a network that merely replicates what already exists. But that doesn’t seem to be what Branch is striving to do. If anything, Branch is a Twitter add-on. It’s a place to take conversations that have started on Twitter and extend or expand them. I’ve often found myself taking a couple of replies on Twitter and feeling compelled to write a blog post based on them or start a Google+ conversation. Branch taps into this need and, because of that, I think it potentially fills a gap in common use cases.
Do you think it’ll catch on? If so, what are the opportunities for marketers?
For marketers and PRs, I think Branch clearly has legs. It’s a place where thought leadership, for example, could flourish. If branches start showing up in search – as is the case with discussions on Quora – then it could be another opportunity for businesses to demonstrate skill and expertise.