Last December, Facebook announced that they would be working towards serving their users more targeted content with better quality and relevance. Yesterday, the news broke of Facebook’s two latest acquisitions: Branch, a New York-based company, and its sister startup company, Potluck. This latest purchase is a big step towards improving the quality of their news feed stories.

Discovering Trending Topics Easier

Branch is a platform that lets people grab quality content online, have more meaningful and relevant conversations about the topic of the content grabbed. Users can then embed and share these conversations across different platforms.

The diagram on that shows how their service works
The diagram on that shows how their service works

Potluck, meanwhile, is a desktop and iPhone application that lets you look at the latest stories on the Internet through cards, click on a topic and see what your friends have to say about the topic. The card format on the iPhone app is reminiscent of Google Now’s cards, but with integrated social media capabilities. You can add friends from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Potluck’s setup stage, showing users their features
Potluck’s setup stage, showing users their features

Both platforms make it easy for users to spot, discuss, and share trending topics and their references – a more social way of delivering news that can make Facebook’s news feed much more interesting and insightful for audiences and brands alike.

First Offer to be Developed Outside Menlo Park, CA

“We will be forming Facebook’s Conversations group, based in New York City, with the goal of helping people connect with others around their interests,” announced Josh Miller, Branch’s co-founder, through a Facebook update. “Their pitch to us was: ‘Build Branch at Facebook scale!’”

Unlike other start-up purchases, which get absorbed by the bigger company, Facebook will keep Branch and Potluck running as separate services. “Although the products we build will be reminiscent of Branch and Potluck, those services will live on outside of Facebook,” noted Miller.

Facebook’s Conversations group will develop the first offering to be built outside of their Menlo Park, CA headquarters. This move seems to be a trend among news outlets in the Silicon Valley looking to return to the roots of reporting, and is in line with Facebook’s dedication to delivering higher quality content.

What This Means for You

“Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme,” Facebook wrote when they first announced they were going to improve delivery of quality content in their News Feed. Given Branch’s features and Facebook’s current features, we can expect better use of Facebook’s user information using Branch’s technology to generate more personalized News Feeds. This is good news for both personal users and paid advertisers, as targeting, content promotion and viral sharing becomes easier through social media.

It also makes integrated online marketing easier, thanks to Branch’s capabilities for embedding content and related conversations to a wide variety of platforms. The embeddable conversations provide more fresh content for blogs and websites that link directly to your social media page.

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