Evie Clifton, Paid Social Account Director, Mindshare UK
Based around spontaneity, authenticity, and transparency, BeReal is the newest app making a splash in the social media landscape. This new anti-filter, anti-influencer social media platform is self-described as ‘not another social network’. And, though the app doesn’t offer brands pay-to-play advertising options, early adopters are finding unique ways to promote their brand and capture user attention.
Despite its launch two years ago, the app is now finding its stride with downloads increasing by 315% since the start of the year. This equates to 65% of the app’s total downloads taking place in 2022 alone. To date, BeReal has had 7.67 million downloads and sees around 2.93 million daily active users as of April 2022 – impressive numbers for an app that is still very much still in its infancy.
Active users Vs passive content consumers
The premise of BeReal is that the app acts as a sort of visual diary, in that every day at a different time, users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo within 2 minutes of opening the app and is described as ‘a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life’. If a person retakes the image within that time, the app then notifies the user’s friends how many hours after the notification they posted, drawing attention to the lack of spontaneity.
It’s interesting to note that users can only see their friend’s posts after they themselves have posted, meaning the app is intrinsically designed to encourage active users as opposed to passive content consumers. The need to post content to view content keeps users connected not only with their friends but with the app itself, highlighting its core focus; connection, not how many likes someone can accrue.
The power of Gen Z
With no filters, edits or curation, the app pivots towards the more mundane aspects of our lives, which may just be the thing that younger generations are looking for. Previous trends centred on overly curated and polished content across other social media platforms has left Gen Zs feeling disconnected and alienated, which is possibly why this new addition to the world of social appears to be resonating so strongly with this age group.
The power of Gen Z has never been so apparent, not only in the social media landscape, but also within society at large, with a constant focus from brands and marketers alike on how to reach and connect with this key demographic. If BeReal continues to resonate with and recruit users from this age group it could have the potential to sustain its progress, and we may even see other social apps try to emulate the successful elements of the app within their own products.
Though users are encouraged to add just their friends, you can’t help but wonder which brands are going to enter the BeReal universe in the near future. The platform doesn’t offer advertising and in the absence of paid social ads, brands might typically turn to sponsorship and influencer marketing – however it seems those opportunities are slim to none.
But this doesn’t mean that brands can’t get involved and unlock its potential to reach this key demographic.
With the likes of fast-food Mexican chain, Chipotle recently joining BeReal and sharing a limited- promo code for free entrées to its users – the campaign represented one of the first brand marketing activations on the new social media platform.
While there is a huge opportunity for brands to add real value, due to the platform’s ethos of transparency and authenticity, not every brand will be a good fit. Brands must think about the audience they’re trying to reach and whether that’s the audience that also resonates with their own brand.
If so, and they also have an authentic story to share, it’s important to lean into that and not get tempted to tell a polished narrative, but give consumers a closer look at real products and operations.
So, will BeReal stand the test of time and become a permanent fixture in the social media landscape? Ultimately it feels too early to tell. The strong download figures appear to tell a positive story, and if these user numbers continue to rise then this app could be a social force to be reckoned with, particularly when it comes to reaching key demographics such as Gen Z.
The inclusion of push notifications as a core element of the app’s functionality may assist in keeping users loyal over time, and the daily interactivity also mirrors other viral app trends such as Wordle which is currently seeing great success with a super engaged audience.
However, the rise and fall of social apps can be rapid and not every app is able to maintain the hype and buzz over a long period of time. With examples such as Clubhouse very fresh in our minds, going from one of the most talked about apps at the start of 2021 to a certain level of indifference come 2022.
To continue its relevancy, BeReal and the brands looking to join its hype, will need to walk the line between evolving its product to keep users interested and coming back for more, whilst always keeping the core message of authenticity at the forefront of the product. Without a well-planned strategy that delivers real value to users, its audience will tell an ad a mile off.