Snap a photo. Be in the moment. Be… real. This simple idea launched the newest app shaking up the social media world: BeReal.
With over 10 million daily active users, BeReal is capturing the attention of a growing number of consumers by offering an alternative to the social media status quo – i.e., taking us back to the internet days that were candid, unfiltered and indifferent to follower counts and impressions. While TikTok achieved traction for its authenticity and connecting people by interests, BeReal – like Facebook, Insta and Snap – is rooted in real-life connections.
Here’s a closer look how this app works, why it is gaining momentum and what it could mean for brands.
How It Works
By now, users and brands alike have curated an online persona, tailored to our audiences on each platform. We might choose to share a family-friendly photo on Facebook so that our family abroad can see what we’re getting up to, but we’ll post a picture of our latest late-night escapade to Instagram as a status symbol for our friends to envy. And then we obsess over the content, the copy, the angle, and comments, likes and shares.
Instead of careful content curation, BeReal promotes – and perhaps forces – spontaneity by sending a notification and provides a two-minute window to take a picture – using your phone’s back-facing camera to capture your environment and the front-facing camera to take a photo of you. No filters allowed.
If you post late, it lets friends know that you’re not being real. If you don’t post at all, the premise is that you’re missing out on the real moments your friends are having that day. If you do post but post after the two-minute time frame, the app will brand your content “late” for all the world to see. If you retake your picture within the posting time frame vs. running with the first shot, it tells your friends you attempted to “be real” more than once.
There are no value-based metrics around views, likes, comments and shares. But there is an opportunity to react to a friend’s post with a “RealMoji” – a personalized selfie version of an emoji to let your friends know you appreciate their realness. And if you post and run out of friend content to scroll through, BeReal does offer a Discovery page with content from global users who choose to share a slice of daily life.
Why It Works
Users, particularly the mid 20-ish Elder Gen Z cohort, have grown tired of the manufactured self-image that permeates our social media daily. But regardless of age, the creation and consumption of videos and photos that portray a refined, ruffle-free and enviable life has left people burnt out. No one’s life is perfect, and while people know that, that FOMO and “less-than” feelings tend to prevail.
BeReal’s authentic content and the mundane moments provide a break from the posturing. Sure, there are some moments when things can get awkward, even cringey with oversharing – but, as with Snap, content will vanish the next day, instead of building a permanent record. BeReal won’t make you TikTok famous or get you that coveted blue check mark on Instagram. But it is a place where users are able to share a glimpse of what daily life really looks like in a given moment.
Can Brands BeReal?
Much like the social networks that have come before it, BeReal is currently financed by investors and powered by user-generated content, which means what is being shared is organic, raw and a direct connection to other platform users. While consumers would prefer to forgo the promotional fodder that pervades other networks, paid in-app advertisements and subscriptions feel like an eventuality and inevitability.
That said, organic brand presence has always predated the paid opportunities, and while it’s hard to gauge at this stage whether a brand can be real, some are trying – and arguably succeeding, likely because of the alignment between their brand purpose and the app’s authenticity.
Chipotle, known for involving consumers in their brand story, was the first brand to create an account. They began by offering different types of discounts like BOGO burritos for the first 100 people to redeem the code. Recently, they started leveraging the engagement from the app to drive in-store purchases with a sweepstakes to win free BOOritos for posting a BeReal in costume at a Chipotle location for Halloween. Cosmetics brand E.L.F., a brand with dedication to diversity, is also present on the platform – and sharing product sneak peeks that celebrate shades and colors for every lip and face.
For brands wondering if this social space is right for them, the question becomes how to be in the here and now authentically while still adhering to branded representation. Is being unadulterated with little context an advantageous way to connect with your target? Be it providing something of value – e.g., the Chipotle discount code or E.L.F. showcasing its brand values in sneak peeks – companies looking to get real must find a bona fide way to give consumers something useful.
If you’re pondering if this is the right social space for your brand to explore, here are some things to consider.
- Not all places and spaces are suited for your audience. Only engage in BeReal if this will be a touchpoint to meaningfully engage with your target. And, if this is a space for you, ensure your content shared here offers value and differentiates from your social presence on other platforms.
- Push notifications to post on BeReal appear at random moments in the day. Would your team have the autonomy, skill and availability to be able to represent your brand in an authentic way whenever that daily notification comes through? This might mean a shift in how nimble the process for this platform must be.
- Consider the kind of content that would be compelling to this niche audience. A sweepstakes? A product launch? A behind-the-scenes sneak peek? Whatever the decision, the tone and manner in which it shows up need to feel incredibly authentic.
- Find ways to maximize opportunities to crossover audiences and drive engagement from another social platform to BeReal. Continuing to find ways to layer your story with your target audience is key to collect an overall larger impression with them.
Looking for a partner to help you assess which social channels are right for your brand and build a strategy to suit? Hiebing can help. Email Nate Tredinnick at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a call.