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New York-based startup Branch revamps its ‘Potluck’ link-sharing, content-encouraging app

Social media man­agers famil­iar with these pages will know that we report­ed back in July on Potluck, a new link-shar­ing app from the team behind the New York-head­quar­tered social con­ver­sa­tion ser­vice Branch. We can now report that the app has been launched in its sec­ond incar­na­tion, shift­ing the ser­vice in the direc­tion of a news and mes­sag­ing hybrid.

Encour­ag­ing shy lurk­ers

As social media man­agers who read our ear­li­er arti­cle will be aware, Potluck began life as a link-shar­ing ser­vice where peo­ple could share their inter­est­ing find­ings. But it was designed to break the internet’s “1 per­cent rule” – the rule that only 1 per­cent of a social media site’s vis­i­tors will be con­tent cre­ators, with the rest act­ing as view­ers (“lurk­ers”). Potluck ver­sion 2.0 con­tin­ues in this vein, encour­ag­ing lurk­ers out of their shy­ness by let­ting them post com­ments about a shared link. And Potluck’s empha­sis was always on the mes­sage, not the mes­sen­ger.

But what’s new? For one thing, the user inter­face has been re-vamped to make it much more mes­sag­ing-friend­ly. Giv­en that the start­up has built up a very engaged com­mu­ni­ty on a short space of time, that’s a nat­ur­al next step. Con­ver­sa­tions in the new app are cen­tered on top­ics, not on peo­ple. CEO Josh Miller explains it like this:

“[I]nstead of tap­ping on the names of your room­mates or co-work­ers to start talk­ing, you tap on top­ics that you’re inter­est­ed in — such as ‘Banksy’s NYC res­i­den­cy,’ or ‘Eminem’s new album.’”

A new niche?

The more inquir­ing social media man­ag­er will, of course, be inter­est­ed in the size of that engaged com­mu­ni­ty. Miller admits that is wasn’t grow­ing espe­cial­ly fast. Ver­sion 2.0 resi­t­u­ates the app in a place Miller believes will become a unique niche – the inter­me­di­ate space between social news sites like Red­dit or Digg and mobile mes­sag­ing apps like What­sapp.

OK, so Twit­ter is the Goliath that Potluck must com­pete with and of course it, too, lets users post links and com­ment on them. But Potluck doesn’t lim­it the num­ber of char­ac­ters users can deploy and because its avatars are small­er, it’s the con­tent that attracts atten­tion not the poster.

The new ver­sion also includes Cir­ca-style orig­i­nal con­tent from the Branch team, all of which is designed to take no more than 20 sec­onds to read.

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