Twitter founders, Ev Williams and Biz Stone, recently launched two new sites, Medium and Branch. So of course I signed up to them straight away. When signing up to Branch I only had the option to request an invite. Now I have received my ‘You’re In’ email and I’ve been had the chance to explore what Branch is and if I see a place for it in my future.
What is Branch?
Social media platforms are all about being ‘social’ and a large part of this is creating and joining conversations. This is the aim of Branch. Discover content online, discuss it with people who are also interested, then publish to continue the conversation.
Creating a conversation
There are a number of ways to create a conversation; your own question or discussion topic, a link to an external page or tweet.
Using the Branch bookmarklet I created my own conversation around a RWW article about company usage of Dropbox.
I chose not to invite specific people, but just posted the conversation creation to all of my followers on Twitter. Someone who responded (on Twitter) was still waiting for her Branch invite, so i manually added her to my conversation using her Twitter handle. Other ways to add people include by name or email address. When i invited her, she received a Twitter DM inviting her to the conversation so she could comment.
Reasons to use Branch
- Publish your ideas – Post your ideas, thoughts and questions on the platform to get feedback.
- Type more than 140 characters – Expand on your Twitter conversations and easily keep the same people involved.
- Ask friends for advice – This doesn’t seem such a novel reason as there are plenty of other spaces in which to do this.
- Have a public debate – Invite specific people relevant to the topic.
- Share media and memories – Exchange links, photos, videos, gifs, and tweets to discuss or just share to show people.
- Embed branches anywhere – Branches can be embedded to your own personal blog.
- Collaboration with Twitter – Taking the 140 character conversations to the next level.
- Branch a branch – Start a new conversation as a result of someone else’s branch.
- Real-time updates – New posts are shown as and when they are written.
- You can bring a plus one – When you add someone to a Branch, they then receive a plus one so they can add someone, therefore expanding the conversation.
Branch vs. Quora
So, Branch is all about conversation, but aren’t most social media? I think the main point of Branch is to try and focus the vast array of conversations on the web in one place, and then expand upon these conversations here on this one platform, much like Quora. So, how do Branch and Quora differ? Branch was launched with the instant endorsement and respected affiliation with Twitter, due to the creators, therefore creating positive brand association.
Quora is more search oriented. I often search Quora for conversation discussions that I am interested in or researching. Branch could embrace this further in the future once the platform contains more content. Quora has also not changed their appearance a great deal since launching and sometimes appears messy or confusing for readers. For now at least, Branch has a more user friendly and clean appearance which could appeal more to new users.
Duplicate questions such as ‘Does the world need product managers any more?’ are already appearing on both sites, Branch and Quora. The difference being that the Branch conversation has been ‘ended’ by the creator, whereas on Quora it is ongoing. As this happens more frequently, which it will, we will be able to examine the answers to these questions on both sites, and also who are providing the answers, do they differ?
Whatever the future holds for Branch, the Internet is swimming with knowledge sharing, so platforms that embrace this can only grow, for now anyway.