Is There Room for Another Social App, Branch?

by GuestBlogStar on September 10, 2012

Can Branch, a New Social Venture Created by Twitter Founders – Succeed?

How many social networks can a single person really handle? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, dozens of other popular sites, and hundreds of other not-so-popular sites – the competition is getting thick. Many people juggle multiple profiles, but they give the majority of their attention to only one or two. Trying to keep up an active and meaningful presence on all major social networks would be a full-time job (and is for many social media experts employed by businesses).

branch screenshotCan the public handle another social forum? Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and their offshoot company The Obvious Corporation are betting it can. They’ve just recently launched a new social venture – which isn’t exactly a social network itself, but more of a communication tool. It has a unique function, and it’s well-funded, but in a market saturated with social options already, can it succeed? Only time will tell, but here is my guess – Probably Not.

Branching Out from Twitter

The purpose of Branch is to give people a place to have discussions with each other that can be closed to invited participants only (and each participant is allowed one guest). It is essentially the same as multiple people commenting on a Facebook post or tweeting each other with the same #hashtag, except not just anyone can add their two cents to the topic at hand. Conversation “branches” can be started from any tweet with a “Take it to Branch” button adding a new option alongside “reply” and “tweet.” Branches can also be started from scratch, or begin as offshoots of another branch.

Watch Out for Falling Branches

Branch is meant to be a new way to hold a conversation online, but is it really all that “new?” Essentially the only “new” thing about it is the ability to restrict the conversation’s participants. It gives an attractive “new” way to view discussion threads, and it gives Twitterers a “new” way to converse without a 140-character limit. There isn’t really anything that special about Branch, and I don’t predict it becoming a breakout success. Most people will stick to the same types of conversations they’re having within their favorite social networks. The only way I see Branch succeeding is if it becomes a hit with the Twitter community as a way to elaborate on tweets. But here’s the problem I see: If Branch is meant to be a solution to the 140-character limit, why is each Branch reply limited, too? Granted, 750 characters is a lot more than 140, but it is still a limit, which effectively defeats the purpose of giving people a “new” place to freely hold lengthy, meaningful discussions.

branch screenshot of conversation

Is There More to Branch Than That?

So far, the only function Branch really has – to start forum-like discussions with specific people – isn’t enough to make it such a significant new network. I believe that there are people who will find Branch useful for having intellectual discourse, mostly prompted by tweets, as long as those people don’t mind limiting their opinions to 750-characters at a time. Unless Branch has more – something really spectacular – to offer, most people will walk-on-by. Branch suggests you use branches to “ask friends for advice” or “share media and memories.” Really, that’s all you’ve got, Branch? Seems like people could accomplish the exact same thing with a Facebook post, which, surprise, is already visible only to their friends (and posts can be restricted to certain eyes, too) – and they do.

While Branch is an interesting launch, it isn’t quite interesting enough to pull people away from their other social networks and forums to talk with Branch, instead. Nice try, Williams and Stone, but good luck ever even coming close to replicating the success you had with Twitter, because you’ll need it.

This article was prepared by Josephine Rey in tandem with SEOMap.  Visit this website to read more of her work on social media.

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