Let’s be real about BeReal

Published on May 22, 2022

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. But new social media app, BeReal has now been installed 7.4 million times since it debuted in 2019, but 65% of those have occurred this year. In fact, growth of the app year to date is now up 315%. So, what’s causing this sudden uptick in popularity? What’s driving so many people to try experimenting with BeReal?

Firstly, let’s explore what makes this platform different. BeReal pitches itself as ‘not another social network’. Where have we heard that before..? Pithy statements aside, BeReal promises to show ‘Your Friends for Real’. In a world of curated Instagram pictures and misleading videos, BeReal exists to truly capture what people are up to. No frills, no filters.

The app works by sending you a notification once a day, asking you to capture a photo of whatever you’re doing. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. You’re given just two minutes to snap what you’re up to at that point. Not only that, you must use both the front facing and rear camera on your device. The idea is that this random prompt in the day means that you’re sharing content that is authentic and genuinely gives others a glimpse into your day to day.

What if you’re otherwise engaged during these two minutes? Well, BeReal will let you post, but will mark that you were late to do so. You’re also not able to browse other users BeReal pics until you’ve posted yourself. Not only that, if you’d like to engage with any content whilst you’re scrolling, you’ll need to snap a photo of your face rather than use a humble emoji.

This utilitarian approach means that there’s nowhere to hide when you’re on BeReal. It also means that an awful lot of the content on there is rather mundane. However, this hasn’t deterred swathes of students from using it to capture content on campus. Whilst this is no doubt largely due to the app running a college campus ambassador program, it also seems to reflect a feeling amongst Gen Z that other social media apps are filled with content that’s becoming too contrived and forced.

Whether the app becomes popular enough to become a media channel to be considered within the wider marketing mix is yet to be seen. Perhaps celebrities or high profile influencers giving us a glimpse of their everyday lives could be interesting. Yet it would seem that whilst Instagram can be guilty of making people’s lives look hyperbolically enticing, BeReal seems to do almost the opposite, resulting in a stream of people’s bedrooms and faces being lit by the glow of a monitor. With GWI research showing the number one reason people use social media in 2022 is for entertainment, I’m not sure how long that will keep people coming back for more…