What is Branch?
What is 'Branch'?
Branch is a discussion and community tool currently in creation by one of the founders of Twitter. Through their mission statement, they explain that great conversation is becoming harder and harder to find on the web. With sites such as Twitter encouraging short bursts of spontaneous thoughts and Instagram solely focussing on image and video, there are few places to have discussions and share in depth thoughts.
Branch aims to bring ideas together and start discussions online which you can then publish on other social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. It operates very closely to the way a online forum board does, but lets you keep the discussion to people you invite.
How does it work?
When you sign up to Branch, you're met with a screen that reads:
Pick your topic and off you go!
From here you can start a topic of conversation about anything you want, simply by typing in a topic or linking in anything from the web (including videos, news articles and images). You can then post it up on your favourite social media sites and / or invite people through email which gains them access to your branch and joins them in the discussion. They can then post their thoughts and opinions and can even invite a friend of their own to join in the discussion, creating an organic flow of thoughts where only people who are interested in the topic being discussed are having an input. Of course any number of people can view your discussion for inspiration or just out of interest.
Sounds all very familiar to the basic forum set up right? Well here's the catch. Any time throughout the conversation, an invited guest can highlight text, images, videos etc. that have been discussed and 'branch off' the main discussion, creating a separate branch. This is a great feature because often in online discussions, the topic goes quickly off road and ends up the opposite of what you intended to talk about! I'm looking at you Youtube!
What kind of people/brands are using it and what for?
A good example of a brand using branch is the Hotel and Holiday Resort company “Hyatt”. They use branch to ask customers three things that would improve their future stay at one of their hotels. Using an informal tone and inviting actual customers, they managed to start a nice civilised discussion on what customers want.
Hyatt have used Branch to ask customers and potential customers how they can improve.
The top need these customers brought up was an option for early check in. The company responded by passing on this comment to the operations team. You'd think with the amount of response this generated, something good is sure to come from it! Check out the full discussion here:
Of course it's all just about brands asking customers questions. It's full of insightful conversations about general topics. Take this one for instance http://branch.com/b/how-do-blogs-need-to-evolve a discussion about what the next step for blogs are with the advancement of technology. Something even the creators of branch could consider for their own growth.
With some added features, I could see Branch becoming a real heavyweight in terms of reaching out to customers for thoughts and feelings. You could almost call it an online focus group platform if used in the right way. It's also looking like it can be a great way to just have a nice conversation with friends and likeminded people which won't end up being crowded out in the noise of other media.
Follow the video link below and check out what Branch is all about!
Content Assistant - Sean Haydock - @bseanty