Posted by: brandextenders | June 29, 2011

Are You Branching Out?

The question is, now that you’re LinkedIn (see my last blog, “Are You LinkedIn”) does that mean you’re going to be branching out as well? No, it has nothing to do with adding more connections to LinkedIn, but a Facebook app that’s getting a lot of attention these days.

BranchOut has been on Facebook for close to a year, but has really taken off in literally the last month going from 200,000 to over 800,000 monthly users. Like me, you may be getting requests from your Facebook friends to join them on BranchOut and because it’s becoming so popular I’m wondering how worthwhile it’s going to be to “play” this app.

Although I played Mafia Wars on FB for a while, I never got into Farmville, but for me the look of BranchOut reminds me a whole lot of one of those games. You have badges you can share and post based on various goals you achieve (i.e. be an early adopter, endorse a lot of people, etc.) and the overall graphical look in some ways yells, “Farmville.”

Branch Out was started by Rick Marini who also started and sold Tickle.com for $100 million and has so far received $24 million in Venture Capital funds for this new app.

I’ve hardly done anything with BranchOut and already have 111 connections. That’s the viral part I guess and why so many people have so quickly become monthly users. To sign up you’ll need to allow Facebook access to the app which is the first thing many people don’t like. Allowing access to any app could open you up to security concerns so make sure you have your privacy settings on Facebook where you want them. You can limit who sees your BranchOut profile although that might mean if you’re looking for work, recruiters and companies may not be able to see it either. Once you’ve signed up you see your home page whenever you log on and the look is pretty intuitive even for first time users. You have the option of completing your profile by connecting to your LinkedIn page so that much of your profile will automatically populate into BranchOut.

My biggest question is the professionalism of BranchOut and the long-term perception people will have. My LinkedIn profile is all business and I don’t connect with people for the sake of having five bazillion connections. Facebook though is all about social networking and people tend to brag about how many friends they have. My feeling is BranchOut will end up being another place to gather friends, followers or whatever you want to call them, like notches on a belt. Marini, BranchOut’s founder, said he and his colleagues have “tremendous respect” for the way LinkedIn pioneered the professional social networking market, but “We just believe that in the future, whether personal or professional, networking is all going to be on Facebook going forward,” he said.” I’m sure the founder and stockholders of LinkedIn loved that comment.

Here are a few thoughts and questions I’ve gathered as I played around with BranchOut:

  • Do you use Linked In strictly for business and Facebook for pleasure? I work to keep them separated, but it’s getting harder and harder to do. I don’t see LinkedIn getting more personal, but with this app I see Facebook trying to become more business oriented.
  • Is Facebook more about social networking and if so, how does that affect what you post on the site? Most of my postings on FB are social however I will post a link to this blog and some business related topics from time-to-time and I find the response is good. Does that mean I would use Facebook to look for a job if the need ever arose? Possibly.
  • Do you think employers and recruiters will use BranchOut to find quality employees? My gut tells me the audiences are vastly different so it will depend on what an employer is seeking. For younger (18-35), more socially engaged (average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events) and possibly more tech savvy employees it will be BranchOut. For older (average age 41), more affluent college graduate (80% of users) employers will most likely lean towards LinkedIn.
  • Does it matter where you search for work? When you get down to it, if you need a job then either of these platforms are a good place to search. Although their audiences and styles may be different, both LinkedIn and BranchOut can help you network and along with a little luck, that’s what it’s all about when you’re searching for work.

The question will be can BranchOut last in the long run? LinkedIn has been around for almost a decade, went public last month, has 100 million users and is continuing to grow at about one member per second. Can this upstart called BranchOut steal away LinkedIn’s thunder or will it need to if it is to survive?

Perhaps there is room for both of these sites reaching different audiences and helping anyone looking for work to find employment more quickly. If not, then I see a merger and acquisition sometime down the road.

I work with my customers to evaluate their promotional marketing needs and develop creative and measurable solutions based on those needs. I build long-term relationships to become a trusted advisor my clients turn to for their brand extension, promotional product, incentive and other branding needs. Contact me at stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com  

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Responses

  1. You know what, I’ve been asking the same questions about BranchOut as you have. A friend invited me to be part of it saying that it was some sort of networking program. After completing the basics for signing up, I never bothered to look at it again and I didn’t even invite any of my friends. But I keep getting alerts that so and so has joined my network and I keep thinking, what’s in it for me and my friend? Thank you for shedding some light about it.

    • Facebook is trying to be everything to everyone and that business model usually doesn’t work. Not sure people will be inclined to use a business tool like this on Facebook, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks for your comments.

      Steve

  2. This is a well done article that I have bookmarked for future reading. Have a wonderful.One again, your article is very nice


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