A new social networking platform, Branch aims to improve the way people communicate online by encouraging more meaningful conversations.

The Social Network Problem

While social media has given people more ways to connect and interact with each other, there are often limitations with these sites. For example, Twitter only allows its users to tweet 140 characters at one time, which doesn't encourage a lot of elaboration or detailed feedback. In other sites, such as Facebook, users can leave comments on material, but are encouraged to like or share a page to show their support. Other forms of social media have been introduced, such as the relatively new Ping.it and Pinterest, but they are more based on content sharing, then conversation.

These gestures are powerful, but we wanted to create a feedback mechanism that signals not if something is good or bad, but whether it’s worthy of your time,” said Josh Miller, co-founder of Branch in a blog post that announced the release.

What Does Branch Do?

With these ideas in mind, Branch wanted tocombine the best of these networks, but leave room for more conversation. Launching as a invite-only beta version earlier this year, the social network combined the micro-blogging that is often associated with Twitter with a dialogue format.


Learning Opportunities

As the network is integrated with Twitter, users sign up with that account, but once registration is complete they can begin posting and sharing content on Branch. Content can include tweets, videos and articles. When another user joins the conversation, a "branch" is created as the topic is discussed.The site also encourages users to not only post detailed responses to topics, but to also “write like you talk,” by having short responses to content, as if they were talking one on one with another person. With this in mind, Branch hopes to set themselves apart by improving how users interact over social media.

With this public launch of Branch, there are a few features that Miller highlighted in his announcement. They include:

  • An Activity Feed: While every social media has some sort of news or activity feed, Branch designs with the “People matter most” principle in mind. As with other feeds, users can see popular branches, but also highlight something they posted or watch certain groups. Miller said this idea is based off of dashboard analytics, Twitter’s Connect tab and Foursquarenewsfeed.

  • A Musical Connection:Branch has incorporated music tools Soundcloud and Spotify and allowed users to share and listen to music within their branches.

  • An Improved Linking System: In the beta launch, users had to embed music in order to post it to the site, but now users merely have to post the link, as they do with videos and articles.

The History of Branch

Although, as was mentioned, it was launched in 2012 in a beta format, Branch originally started as Roundtable, an idea created by Miller, Hursh Agrawa and Cemre Güngör in September 2011. The company is currently backed by a variety of investors, including Obvious, Betaworks and David Tisch.