Twitter founders’ new social network Branch is open for business

Branch, the new social network funded by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, has today stepped out of private Beta, and into public view. The idea of it is to simplify online conversation, and cut out some of the internet noise.

In a blogpost the founders says that they “want sharing your ideas on Branch to feel just like sharing your ideas around a table with friends,” and with the clean, simplified nature of Branch they seem to have achieved that.

When you first go to Branch.com you are asked to sign in via Twitter, unsurprising given the links between the two companies. This then generates an avatar for you (actually slightly outdated in my in case,) and gives you a quick introduction:

 

As you can see, you can very easily add a bookmarklet to your web browser for easy sharing, and invite gmail and yahoo(?!)  contacts to join the network, which is great way for Branch to let people know about their network.

Then you’re in, and sharing is very easy indeed:

You will notice that Twitter is once again heavily integrated. You can tell people what you are discussing on Branch, and invite them to join by ticking the Twitter box at the bottom on the right hand side.

Finished messages look something like this:

Again you can Tweet your post, or embed it into another website. All this will help drive attention back to Branch.

Branch have also created Branch groups, which they believe to be updated versions of forums:

Branch is beautifully designed, if a bit minimalist. DigitalTrends are right when they say “Branch feels like a fully wrought product. It feels good, seamlessly integrating with your Twitter and Google accounts and even your browser. Despite my personal increasing boredom with trendy, vanilla, website designs, the fundamental point that Branch is meant to be clean, simple, and quiet(er), and the creators have undoubtedly achieved this. As TechCrunch’s Rips Empson explains:

Branches are public and you can decide who is included in the dialogue and expand on a particular tweet or video, for example, that got your juices flowing. Other users can respond to those comments, share it, or subscribe to that user.

It’s a public conversation, but one you can control the participants in. After recent discussion about trolling and Twitter storms, this is likely to have quite an appeal with some people.  Rip Empson says that “Branch seems to be trying to provide users with that context or canvas on which they can find a happy medium between blogging and sharing in 140 characters,” which he believes is something that Twitter lacks. I think that’s right, and why if Branch can build a network of active users they will stick around. Conversations on Branch feel more like real conversations, and a nice contrast to the increasingly fraught nature of Twitter.