If you’ve spent any time on social media in 2022, you’ve probably heard of BeReal. It’s a relatively new social media app that’s seen a dramatic increase in popularity this year. But what makes it different from any other trend we’ve seen on social media?
The main reason that BeReal has sent seismic waves across the social media landscape this year is its resolute emphasis on authenticity. There are no follower counts, no filters, and no adverts. Just pure spontaneity.
So what exactly is BeReal?
Users of BeReal receive a notification once per day, which alerts them that they have two minutes to post what they’re doing at that very moment. The app uses a dual camera feature, which simultaneously takes a photo with the front and back cameras on a smartphone.
You can scroll through your friends’ BeReals and a selection of those from users who have chosen to make their BeReal public. And that’s pretty much it.
So if it’s so simple, then why is it gaining so much traction? The truth is that many consumers of social media are tired of the unattainable perfection with which they are bombarded on their feeds: endless streams of demotivating content showcasing unrealistic lifestyles.
Many are exhausted by feeling as though they have to maintain such a pristine online appearance. Authentic content is in high demand. From this perspective, BeReal identifies this gap in the market and fills it perfectly.
There’s still a conversation to be had about whether BeReal will last in the long term. We know that social media is a tough industry to thrive in, especially for a new app. But right now, it’s pretty clear that BeReal is having at least some sort of lasting impact.
Who is using BeReal, and why?
72% of BeReal users are aged under 25, so the app is predominantly used by Gen Z. That’s not surprising. Gen Z are the first social generation to have grown up with access to social media and mobile phones from a very young age.
This means that they don’t necessarily have the same concerns about privacy that older generations may have when posting what they’re doing at any given moment in time. As Mark Zuckerberg once famously said, privacy is no longer a “social norm” for most social media users.
Right now, BeReal has 73.5 million active monthly users, which is increasing rapidly. In August this year, that number was 21.6 million. That gives you an idea of how quickly this app is taking off – and it’s not going unnoticed by other social media platforms, either.
Instagram is already taking note
Instagram has a history of imitating what other popular social media apps do. In fairness, they’re pretty good at it, and it’s one of the main reasons they’ve been able to retain their huge market share.
When Snapchat became popular, they created Instagram Stories. When they were threatened by TikTok, they created Reels. And now that they’re beginning to feel the heat from BeReal, they’re already testing new features.
Over the summer, they tested the new ‘IG Candid’ feature. It’s practically a carbon copy of BeReal, available in the Instagram app. Users have the same ability to take a ‘dual camera’ image with their front and back cameras, which they post every day at a different time, within 2 minutes of receiving a notification. These ‘Candids’ would then be visible alongside Stories.
Instagram is also testing a feature called ‘Roll Call’, which is essentially BeReal on a smaller scale. Members of a group chat can request that everyone in the conversation shares a photo of themselves within five minutes of the request.
Both of these features that are currently in testing capitalise on the spontaneity and authenticity that we’ve seen work well for BeReal. So, it’s clear that we’re seeing a shift towards realism in the social media landscape as a direct result of BeReal.
How can brands get involved on BeReal?
Truthfully, not many brands have taken to BeReal just yet. Being candid and unfiltered is perhaps not the perfect fit for every business – it all depends on what kind of brand personality you’ve developed for your business online. Plus, there is no advertising function on BeReal – although this may change.
One of the first brands to get BeReal was Chipotle, the Mexican fast-food chain. They shared a promotional code for users to use in their app to get a free item.
So far, we’d say that BeReal is best for more playful and informal brands who are looking to post flippantly with relatively spontaneous content. This could all change depending on how BeReal develops itself in the future. It would be great to see it become more brand-friendly.
So ultimately, what does it mean to be authentic on social media?
Overall, there’s no escaping that whilst the primary aim of social media is to connect us, it tends to highlight our divisions as well. We have all witnessed a bitter Twitter feud or seen a family relative sharing political opinions on Facebook that we might have been happier not knowing.
This is where BeReal comes in. The truth is that showcasing authenticity in people’s lives means showcasing mundanity. After all, the things that people post on Instagram are not what they do on a daily basis.
On BeReal, you see real life: nights watching Netflix, commuting to work, making dinner or an afternoon walk. BeReal highlights that we are much more alike than we are different, in a way that no other social media platform has been able to do before. That’s a real connection.