Originally posted on thedrum.
You’ve probably at least heard of the most recent social media craze: BeReal. Having launched in 2020, the platform now boasts over 10 million daily active users and has peaked at number one in the Apple App Store, a jaw-dropping jump from the 10,000 users and low awareness it had a little over a year ago.
What makes BeReal so popular?
With a new update popping up almost everyday, it can feel as though the social media OGs (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, even LinkedIn) are often all too difficult to keep up with.
For BeReal, a key selling point is that the app has only one feature: the ability to share with your friends a single pair of (unfiltered) photos every 24 hours, taken with both your front and back cameras simultaneously. That’s it. This simple but clever idea of showing your nearest and dearest a spontaneous snapshot of your day has users signing up in the masses.
Arguably, what BeReal may lack in features it more than makes up for in maintaining user engagement. Users receive a one-time notification every day, and then have a timed two-minute window once the app is opened to take a photo.
Although the timer can be ignored, the excitement of not knowing where you will be when you receive the notification is one of the many reasons why it is so popular. And you can’t access your friends’ photos without having taken one yourself. Unlike other apps where you can mindlessly scroll, with BeReal users have to actually engage to get the most out of it.
Although not a new concept (think Snapchat’s in-app camera roll), BeReal also has a calendar feature, private to the user, which saves their photos as a type of digital memoir to look back on. Why does BeReal retain such a high engagement rate? Probably because of cleverly crafted features that prompt users to stay vigilant in order to get the most out of their experience.
The app establishes from the get-go a quick daily ritual, requiring minimal effort but having maximum effect. Its simplicity is what makes the app so unique, and is arguably why so many other social media platforms (including Instagram and TikTok) are trying to replicate it.
‘No filters, no influencers’
A staggering 65% of generation Z consumers say they now use social media on a daily basis. They’re one of, if not the, most active demographics across most platforms.
In recent years, brands have seen an increased demand for humanization, humor, and honesty, with a desire for less ‘glossy’ content and more transparency. It’s no wonder that BeReal has become a favorite among teens and young adults; it highlights authenticity, standing by its ideology of ‘no filters, no influencers’.
While breaking away from the norm of online performativity is indeed transformative in the world of social media, it leaves many brands wondering whether they have a place within the app, especially as there is currently a strict ‘no ads’ rule.
Chipotle was the first brand to create a BeReal account, posting a discount code that gave the first 100 people who used it a free meal. Within half an hour, the promotion was completed. The vice-president for digital marketing at Chipotle said this about the experience: “we see a massive opportunity to highlight our brand’s transparency in fun ways to our fans”.
If there’s a future for brands on this app, it requires a more creative approach.
Our take on it
The rise in popularity of apps like BeReal shows that the future of brands and brand image could depend on a more candid, authentic approach. Audiences are becoming increasingly self-aware and are selective to whom they show loyalty.
BeReal has captured the raw, often unglamorous essence of life. It may be time for brands to do the same.